Activity: Why did the Nazis establish camps?

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Learning outcomes

By the end of this activity:

  • All students will be able to list some reasons why the Nazis set up camps.


  • Most students should be able to explain some of the reasons why the Nazis set up camps.


  • Some students may be able to explain in detail how the development of camps fitted into the Nazis gaining power and control across Germany and the lands they occupied.



In order to carry out this activity you will need to use the following sections of The Holocaust Explained:

Life in Nazi controlled Europe

What are camps?

Nazis antisemitism 1933 - 1939 timeline

Nazis antisemitism 1939 - 1945 timeline

You may also wish to access pages from the KS4 version of this site.

Why did the Nazis establish camps?

Hitler was appointed Chancellor on 30 January 1933. Immediately, the SA stepped up their campaign of violence and terror. Across Germany the local police and SA and SS rounded up many thousands of communistssocialists, church leaders and many other people.

Initially these prisoners were held in local prisons and police stations. However, there were so many prisoners that makeshift buildings were converted to house them. This is how the notorious Nazi camp system developed.

In this Reflective Learning Activity you will to develop an understanding why the Nazis set up camps.


Stage 1: Set up a diagram

On either a Word document or an A3 sheet of paper, produce a mind-map or table to record your information (see above).

Stage 2: Research - collect your information 

As you read the suggested pages and media assets record any information that you think will help you understand why the Nazis set up camps between 1933 and 1939. In the example (above) you will see that we have started to add details. You can use these and then go on to add your own.

Stage 3 (option a): Communicating your findings

Once you have collected your information you could write a summary of the reasons why the Nazis set up camps.

Stage 3 (option b): Communicating your findings 

Alternatively, you could write a full report complete with an introduction, paragraphs for each category and a conclusion.

Each of the paragraphs should explain a separate reason why the Nazis set up camps. You should provide evidence to back up the points you make.

Your conclusion should explain which were the most crucial reasons why the Nazis set up camps.