Konzentrationslager

The Smithsonian Magazine notes that concentration camps started long before Hitler took power.

Spain was having trouble persuading the Cuban people to stop rebelling, so they decided to round up the peasants who were supporting the rebels.

Civilians were forced, on penalty of death, to move into these encampments, and within a year the island held tens of thousands of dead or dying reconcentrados, who were lionized as martyrs in U.S. newspapers. No mass executions were necessary; horrific living conditions and lack of food eventually took the lives of some 150,000 people.

These camps did not rise out of nowhere. Forced labor had existed for centuries around the world, and the parallel institutions of Native American reservations and Spanish missions set the stage for relocating vulnerable residents away from their homes and forcing them to stay elsewhere. But it was not until the technology of barbed wire and automatic weapons that a small guard force could impose mass detention. With that shift, a new institution came into being, and the phrase “concentration camps” entered the world.

You’ll never guess who resorted to them next.

After defeating Spain in Cuba in a matter of months, the United States took possession of several Spanish colonies, including the Philippines, where another rebellion was underway. By the end of 1901, U.S. generals fighting in the most recalcitrant regions of the islands had likewise turned to concentration camps. The military recorded this turn officially as an orderly application of measured tactics, but that did not reflect the view on the ground. Upon seeing one camp, an Army officer wrote, “It seems way out of the world without a sight of the sea,—in fact, more like some suburb of hell.”

The US “liberated” Cuba and the Philippines and promptly unliberated them by taking over the colonial rule. Just kidding about the anti-imperialism thing!

The Boer War, Namibia, and on it went. The Nazis drew on a long and much-used tradition. Trump is reviving it, because that’s the kind of evil sack of shit he is.

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