The first concentration camps were set up in 1933. In the early days of Hitler, concentration camps were places that held people in protective custody. Victims for protective custody included those who were both physically and mentally ill, gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah Witnesses, Jews and anyone against the Nazi regime. By the end of 1933 there were at least fifty concentration camps throughout Europe. At first, the Gestapo (police) controlled the camps, but by 1934 the S.S. (Hitler's personal security force) controlled the camps.
Camps were set up for different purposes: some for forced labor, others for medical experiments and, later on, for death/extermination. Transition camps were set up as holding places for death camps. Henrick Himmler, chief of the German police (the Gestapo), thought that the camps would provide an economic base for the soldiers. This did not happen. The work force was poorly organized and working conditions were inhumane making productivity minimal.
Camps were set up along railroad lines, so that the prisoners would be conveniently close to their destination. As they were being transported, the soldiers kept telling the Jews to have hope.
When the camps were finally opened, most of the families who were shipped out together ended up being separated. Often, the transports were a sampling of what went on in the camps: cruelty by the officers, near starvation of those being transported and, foul and unsanitary conditions on the trains. On the trains, Jews were starved of food and water for days. Many people did not survive the ride to arrive at the camp.
Jews were forced to obey the guard's orders from the moment they arrived at the camps. If they didn't, they would be beaten, put into solitary confinement or shot. The prisoners usually had marks on their clothes or numbers on...