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Internment is the imprisonment or confinement 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.[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]
Early civilizations such as Assyria used forced resettlement of populations as a means of controlling territory, 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 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."
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.
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).
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. 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, over 26,000 of whom died there.
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").
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