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"Concentration camp" redirects here. For specific contexts see Nazi concentration camps (World War II) and British concentration camps (Boer War).
For a list of individual camps, see List of concentration and internment camps.
For the television series episode, see Internment (The Walking Dead).

Internment is the imprisonment or confinement[1] of people, commonly in large groups, without trial, often in internment camps or concentration camps. It is also known to confine those persecuted within a country's boundaries.[2][clarification needed] Most modern usage is about individuals, and there is a distinction between "internment", which is being confined usually for preventive or political reasons, and "imprisonment", which is being closely confined as a punishment for crime.[attribution needed]

Internment also refers to the practice of neutral countries in time of war in detaining belligerent armed forces and equipment in their territories under the Hague Convention of 1907.[3]

Early civilizations such as Assyria used forced resettlement of populations as a means of controlling territory,[4] but it was not until much later in the late 19th and 20th centuries that records exist of groups of civilian non-combatants being concentrated into large prison camps.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights restricts the use of internment. Article 9 states that "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."[5]

Concentration camps[edit]

Boer women and children in a British-run concentration camp in South Africa (1900-1902)

The American Heritage Dictionary defines the term "Concentration camp" as: "A camp where persons are confined, usually without hearings and typically under harsh conditions, often as a result of their membership in a group the government has identified as suspect."[6]

The Polish historian Władysław Konopczyński has suggested that concentration camps originated in Poland during the Bar Confederation rebellion (1768–1772), when the Russian Empire established three concentration camps for Polish rebel captives awaiting deportation to Siberia.[7]

The English term originated in the reconcentrados (reconcentration camps) set up by the Spanish military in Cuba during the Ten Years' War (1868–1878), Cuban War for Independence (1895-1898), and by the United States during the Philippine–American War (1899–1902).[8]

The term "concentration camp" saw wider use during the Second Boer War (1899–1902), when the British operated such camps in South Africa for interning Boers.[8][9] They built a total of 45 tented camps for Boer internees and 64 for black Africans. Of the 28,000 Boer men captured as prisoners of war, the British sent 25,630 overseas. The vast majority of Boers remaining in the local camps were women and children,[citation needed] over 26,000 of whom died there.

Jewish slave laborers in the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, 16 April 1945. Second row, seventh from left is Elie Wiesel.

During the 20th century, the arbitrary internment of civilians by the state reached a climax with Nazi concentration camps (1933–1945). As a result, the term "concentration camp" today carries many of the connotations of "extermination camp" (or "death camp").

List of camps[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ per Oxford Universal Dictionary, 1st edition 1933.
  2. ^ The New Lexicon Webster's Dictionary of the English Language (1989)
  3. ^ "The Second Hague Convention, 1907". Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Laws of Hammurabi". Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  5. ^ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 9, United Nations
  6. ^ "Concentration camp". American Heritage Dictionary. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  7. ^ Konopczyński, Władysław. (1991), Konfederacja barska, t. II, pp. 733–734.
  8. ^ a b "Concentration Camp". The Columbia Encyclopedia (Sixth Edition ed.). Columbia University Press. 2008. 
  9. ^ "Documents re camps in Boer War". 

External links[edit]