‘Ravensbrück,’ by Sarah Helm

12REICH-master675Walter Reich at the New York Times:

When we hear the phrase “concentration camp,” we usually envision the huge extermination centers the Germans built in Poland as part of their “final solution to the Jewish question,” their effort to murder every Jew they could find. But though it was relatively small, and though it wasn’t primarily an extermination center, Ravensbrück helps us understand how thoroughgoing an onslaught on humanity Nazi Germany perpetrated, and how central to its identity was its implacable urge to enslave and kill those it considered ­undesirable.

According to researchers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Germans established 980 concentration camps; 30,000 slave labor camps; 1,150 Jewish ghettos; 1,000 P.O.W. camps; 500 brothels where women were used as sex slaves; and many other places where victims were killed — 42,500 sites in all.

One of those sites was Ravensbrück, opened in 1939 and situated about 50 miles north of Berlin. The camp’s demography changed as the war progressed. At first the prisoners were what the Nazis called “asocials,” including prostitutes, “race defilers,”  “criminals,” Roma and Sinti, as well as political prisoners, especially Communists. But the camp’s population swelled as Germany conquered ever more of Europe, so that it came to include inmates from over 30 countries, including Jews.

more here.