Wednesday, December 28, 2011
The Development of the Concentration Camp
The concentration camp initially developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as way of suppressing resistance to colonial rule. It was used by the Spanish in Cuba, the British in South Africa, the US in the Philippines, and the Germans in Namibia. The conversion of the concentration camp from an instrument of colonial oppression to one of internal repression appears to be a Soviet innovation. Long before Hitler came to power the Soviet government first under Lenin and then Stalin pioneered the use of the concentration camp as an tool of political and social control in the RSFSR and USSR. The internal use of colonial technologies of control by the Soviet government is not as odd as it appears. The Soviet Union inherited not only most of the territory and population of the old Russian Empire, but most of its ethnic and racial prejudices as well. It was only a matter of time before disfavored nationalities such as the Russian-Germans, Russian-Koreans, Crimean Tatars, Kalmyks, Karachais, Balkars, Chechens, Ingush, Meskhetian Turks and others experienced the type of dispossession already imposed upon a number of colonial populations in the previous century.