Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home
Concentration Camps in Europe
Auschwitz
(Poland)
Janowska
(Soviet Union)
Majdanek
(Poland)
Chelmno
(Poland)
Treblinka
(Poland)
Sobibor
(Poland)
Sachsenhausen
(Germany)
Bergen-Belsen
(Germany)
Dora Mittlebau
(Germany)
Buchenwald
(Germany)
Dachau
(Germany)
Mauthausen
(Austria)
Jasenovac
(Yugoslavia)
Fossoli
(Italy)
Gurs
(France)

The Nazi camp system extended throughout Germany and across occupied Europe. It included thousands of forced labor camps, scores of concentration camps and a small number of death camps.

A few representative concentration camps and all of the most prominent death camps appear on this map. Almost all camps included some form of forced labor. Camps defined solely as forced labor camps are not included on this map.

The Auschwitz camp complex was located near the small Polish town of Oswiecim, about thirty-two miles southwest of Cracow.

Auschwitz consisted of several camps. Auschwitz I served mainly as a concentration camp, Auschwitz II or Birkenau, primarily as a killing facility, and Auschwitz III or Monowitz, a forced labor camp.

Forced labor was used throughout the Auschwitz system and several smaller forced labor camps served as satellites of Auschwitz. The first inmates, German criminals and Polish political prisoners began arriving in Auschwitz I in May 1940.

The Birkenau camp was created at first to contain Soviet prisoners of war. After the German decision to annihilate the Jews, Birkenau became the largest killing facility in the German Reich. Its four crematoria could gas and incinerate thousands of people each day.

Jews, Gypsies and other groups targeted by the Nazis were deported from across Europe to Birkenau where more than one million people, mostly Jews, were murdered.

As the Soviet army approached the Auschwitz complex in the fall of 1944, most of the remaining prisoners were sent on death marches to camps in Germany. The Soviet Army liberated the few remaining prisoners in January 1945.

Reset Map

Located in the suburbs of the city of Lviv, the Janowska camp was the center of a group of SS operated factories which used local Jews as slave laborers.

Janowska also served as a transit center for Polish Jews being deported to slave labor and death camps. Deportees underwent a selection process once they arrived.

Those fit for slave labor remained in the camp. Those rejected for labor were sent to the Chelmno death camp or shot in a nearby ravine.

The camp was closed in November 1943. The Germans attempted to destroy evidence of the massacres by forcing inmates to dig up the mass graves and burn the remains of those who had been killed.

Reset Map

The Majdanek concentration and extermination camp was located near Lubllin, Poland and was established in July 1941.

The camp's first inmates were 5,000 Soviet prisoners of war who were killed by means of starvation and exposure. From then on deportees to the camp consisted mostly of Jews and some Poles.

Tens of thousands of people died from deprivation and brutal treatment. Many inmates were taken to the forests and shot. Murder by gunfire continued even after gas chambers were put into use in 1942.

On a single day in November 1943, 18,000 Jews were forced to dig their own graves and then shot. Some deportees were subjected to slave labor and put to work in the camp and in nearby factories. At least 125,000 people were murdered at Majdanek before the Soviet army liberated the camp on July 24, 1944.

Reset Map

The Chelmno death camp was located abut thirty-seven miles from the city of Lodz, and operated from December 1941 to mid-1943, and again in June and July of 1944.

The camp was staffed by 120 German police and SS men. The victims consisted mostly of Jews but also included Gypsies and Soviet prisoners of war.

Upon arrival at the camp the victims were loaded onto trucks. Exhaust from the diesel engines was funneled back to kill the people locked inside. The bodies were emptied into nearby mass graves. Crematoria were installed after an outbreak of typhus caused by the decomposing bodies.

A few prisoners were temporarily kept alive to dispose of the bodies and remove valuables. Estimates of the number of people killed at Chelmno range from 170,000 to 360,000. The Germans remained at the camp for a few months after killing operations ceased in order to destroy evidence of what had happened there.

Reset Map

Treblinka was located about sixty-two miles northeast of Warsaw. It consisted of two camps: Treblinka I, a concentration camp and Treblinka II, a death camp.

Treblinka I existed from December 1941 to July 1944. About 7,000 prisoners died in the camp.

Treblinka II operated from July 23, 1942 to October 14, 1943. The camp was staffed by thirty SS men and up to three hundred Ukrainian guards.

One thousand to 1,500 Jewish prisoners were temporarily kept alive to dispose of corpses. The camp was disguised to look like a train station.

When victims arrived at the camp, they were humiliated and tortured before being forced into the gas chambers. Exhaust from diesel engines was used to kill the victims.

After mass murders at the camp ceased, the Germans spent several months destroying the evidence. Prisoners were forced to dig up the bodies and burn them. The camp's facilities were destroyed and the entire area re-landscaped.

Approximately 750,000 Jews, Gypsies and Poles were murdered at Treblinka.

Reset Map

The Sobibor death camp was located near Lublin, Poland, and began operations in May 1942.

Thirty SS men and one hundred Ukrainians administered and guarded the camp. Up to 1,000 prisoners were temporarily kept alive to process the victims' property and dispose of their corpses.

Almost all of those deported to Sobibor were Jews. The killing took place almost immediately.

Upon arrival at the camp, the victims were robbed of their possessions, forced to undress and then driven into the gas chambers. There were no intake procedures or assignments to barracks.

After approximately 250,000 people had been murdered, the camp was closed in October 1943 following a revolt by some of the inmates.

Reset Map

Located near Berlin, Germany, Sachsenhausen opened in 1936.

Roughly 10,000 Jewish prisoners were incarcerated there after the Kristallnacht pogrom in November 1938. Most were released under the condition that they leave Germany.

After the outbreak of World War II, prisoners from throughout occupied Europe were deported to Sachsenhausen. Some 1,800 Soviet prisoners of war were murdered in the camp in 1941.

In October 1942, most of the Jews in Sachsenhausen were deported to Auschwitz. Jews were sent back to Sachsenhausen from Auschwitz in the summer of 1944 to work as slave laborers in armament factories.

Reset Map

The Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was created in July 1943 and located near Hanover, Germany.

The camp was initially intended to hold Jews the Germans hoped to use to barter with the Allies. Very few of these prisoners were actually released.

Bergen-Belsen was designed to hold 10,000 people. But in early 1945, as the Germans forced prisoners from the east into camps in Germany, the camp's population grew to 41,000.

Subjected to deprivation and abuse, approximately 37,000 perished before and immediately after the camp was liberated on April 15, 1945.

Reset Map

The Dora-Mittelbau camp was created in 1943, located amid the mountains of central Germany near Nordhausen.

Prisoners were forced to excavate giant tunnels in the mountains in which factories were built that could withstand Allied bombing. Dora was the location of the V-2 rocket program led by Dr. Werner Von Braun, the future head of the American space program.

Living conditions at Dora were among the worst in the Nazi system. The work was extremely hazardous, and the tunnels lacked clean air. Disease, starvation and exhaustion killed many prisoners. Others, when they were no longer useful to the Germans, were deported to Auschwitz or Mauthausen and killed.

As the Allied armies approached, prisoners were sent on death marches. Only a few prisoners were still living in the camp when it was liberated in April 1945.

Reset Map

The Buchenwald concentration camp was located near Weimar and opened on July 19, 1937.

Its first inmates were criminals and political prisoners. Thousands of Jews were sent to the camp in 1938 after the Kristallnacht pogrom.

After the war began, various categories of people were held in Buchenwald, including Soviet prisoners of war (most of whom were killed).

By 1942, the camp served the German war effort as a forced labor complex. Laborers were brought in from across occupied Europe. That year, almost all Jewish prisoners were sent to Auschwitz.

As the Germans retreated from Eastern Europe, thousands of prisoners were brought to Buchenwald. Severe overcrowding and food deprivation led to starvation and epidemics. Tens of thousands died before the American Army liberated the camp on April 11, 1945.

Reset Map

The Dachau concentration camp was located near Munich, Germany, and was created on March 10, 1933.

The first SS concentration camp, Dachau served as a training center for the commanders of other camps. The commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolph Höss, first served at Dachau.

Dachau held criminals, political prisoners and a high percentage of Jewish inmates and was the first camp in which medical experiments were performed on prisoners. It is estimated that a minimum of 40,000 people were killed at Dachau, most of whom were Jews.

Reset Map

The Mauthausen concentration camp was located near Linz and opened in April 1938 after the German annexation of Austria.

The camp held inmates from throughout Europe including Spanish anti-facists and Soviet prisoners of war.

Prisoners were murdered by a variety of methods: shootings, lethal injections, poison gas or by brutal forced labor conditions in a nearby quarry.

Near the war's end, thousands of prisoners from Auschwitz were transferred to Mauthausen. An estimated 122,767 people were killed in Mauthausen and its satellite camps.

Reset Map

The Jasenovac concentration and extermination camp was created in August 1941 and located about sixty-two miles southwest of Zagreb. The camp was managed and supervised by the Croatian Security Police.

Approximately 600,000 people were executed at various sites surrounding the camp. Most of the victims were Serbs, but Jews and Gypsies were also deported to the camp and murdered. Once the killing facility at Auschwitz was operating, Jews in the area of Jasenovac were sent there instead.

In addition to the murders, hunger and terrible living conditions, the staff of Jasenovac was extremely vicious. Almost all of the surviving inmates were killed as Allied liberators approached the camp in April 1945.

Reset Map

The Fossoli concentration camp was established as a prisoner of war facility by the Italians in 1940, and was located about eighty miles southwest of Venice.

After the Germans occupied northern Italy in September 1943, Fossoli became a concentration camp and was used to imprison Jews, political prisoners and Italian soldiers.

More than 3,000 Jews were deported to the camp, many of whom were subsequently deported to the Auschwitz death camp, and on one occasion, to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.

Reset Map

The Gurs concentration camp was located in southwestern France and opened in April 1939 as a French detention camp.

Its first prisoners were Spanish Republican soldiers who had fled to France after the fascist victory in Spain. The camp also held German and Austrian Jews.

The Germans incorporated Gurs into their camp system after the fall of France. Hunger and disease killed hundreds of inmates. Thousands of Jews were incarcerated in Gurs of whom approximately 6,000 were deported to the Auschwitz and Sobibor death camps.

Reset Map

Paris
Berlin
Venice
Warsaw
Zagreb
Linz
Lodz
Auschwitz
Janowska
Majdanek
Janowska
Chelmno
Treblinka
Sobibor
Sachsenhausen
Bergen‑Belsen
Dora Mittelbau
Buchenwald
Dachau
Mauthausen
Jasenovac
Fossoli
Gurs