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Concentration camps

Migration A–Z


  1. Marc Buggeln, translated by Paul Cohen

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm146

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Cohen, M. B. t. b. P. 2013. Concentration camps. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


The term “concentration camp” has a wide range of definitions, and it is at times extremely difficult for historians to draw the line between these and other types of camps and places of internment. In contrast to prisons, inmates in concentration camps are not usually sentenced following regular legal proceedings. Furthermore, camps tend to focus on groups, while inmates in prisons are primarily offenders serving individual sentences. In contrast to prisoner-of-war (POW) camps, concentration camps are normally not used to detain regular military personnel, but rather insurgents and civilians classified as enemies of the state. The main purposes of concentration camps are to isolate groups from the rest of society, punish and re-educate, terrorize, exploit, and sometimes even exterminate prisoners.


  • assimilation and exclusion;
  • crimes against humanity;
  • ethnic cleansing;
  • ethnocentrism;
  • geopolitics;
  • humanitarian intervention;
  • repression