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Extermination Camps, World War II

Extermination camps (Vernichtungslager), also known as death camps (Todeslager), refer to camps established by Nazi Germany in 1941 and 1942 for the systematic annihilation of Jews and other persons deemed socially “undesirable” by the regime. Created for the implementation of “the Final Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe,” these camps were Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibór, Treblinka, Majdanek-Lublin, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Whereas the first four existed exclusively as extermination camps, Majdanek-Lublin and Auschwitz functioned as both concentration and extermination camps. Unlike extermination camps, which were pure “factories of death” meant for speedy and efficient extermination by poison gas or mass shooting, concentration camps were primarily used for detention and forced labor.

Extermination camps were also established in isolated areas of German-occupied Poland to maintain a high level of ...

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