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Camps were an essential part of the Nazis systematic oppression and mass murder of Jews political adversaries and others considered socially and racially undesirable There were concentration camps forced labor camps extermination or death camps transit camps and prisoner-of-war camps The living conditions of all camps were brutal Dachau one of the first Nazi concentration camps opened in March 1933 and at first interned only known political opponents of the Nazis Communists Social Democrats and others who had been condemned in a court of law Gradually a more diverse group was imprisoned including Jews Jehovahs Witnesses Gypsies dissenting clergy homosexuals as well as others who were denounced for making critical remarks about the Nazis Six death or extermination camps were constructed in Poland These so-called death factories were Auschwitz-Birkenau Treblinka Belzec Sobibr Lublin also called Majdanek and Chelmno The primary purpose of these camps was the methodical killing of millions of innocent people The first Chelmno began operating in late 1941 The others began their operations in 1942 In the beginning of the systematic mass murder of Jews Nazis used mobile killing squads called Einsatzgruppen The Einsatzgruppen consisted of four units of between 500 and 900 men each which followed the invading German troops into the Soviet Union By the time Himmler ordered a halt to the shooting in the fall of 1942 they had murdered approximately 1500000 Jews The death camps proved to be a better faster less personal method for killing Jews one that would spare the shooters not the victims emotional anguish In September 1941 the Nazis began using gassing vans--trucks loaded with groups of people who were locked in and asphyxiated by carbon monoxide These vans were used until the completion of the first death camp Chelmno which began operations in late 1941 On December 7 1941 the Nacht und Nebel Night and Fog order was issued to deter resistance by allowing military courts to swiftly
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