Where were the first camps set up?

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To stop opposition and to instil terror the Nazis arrested thousands of people and placed them in camps.

The first camps were established throughout Germany, by local SA, SS or police units, as detention facilities to imprison so called ‘enemies of the state’. These local internment centres were mainly situated in or around towns and cities.

They housed thousands of alleged political opponents to the Nazi regime. Later on the Nazis would use these centres for the detention of many thousands of German Jews, homosexuals and so called ‘anti-socials’, in addition to political prisoners.

Later, most of these early camps were disbanded and replaced by centrally organised concentration camps under the exclusive control of the SS. By 1939 there were seven major concentration camps established by the Nazis (see map above), each housing many thousands of prisoners.

The camps, established to house prisoners from across Germany, were in Dachau (1933), Lichtenburg (1933), Sachsenhausen (1936), Buchenwald (1937), Neuengamme (1940) and Ravensbruck (1939). Two other camps were set up to house Jews and political prisoners rounded up during the Nazi annexation of Austria and the invasion of Czechoslovakia. These were Mauthausen in Austria (1938) and Flossenburg in Germany (1938).

Between 1939 and 1945, the Nazis they invaded and occupied lands all over Europe and established more than 20,000 camps. These camps included concentration camps, transit camps, forced labour or work camps and death camps.