Fort Snelling, built on the beautiful spot where the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers flow together, a place the Dakota called Bdote , is the concentration camp next door. Is it fair to use the phrase "concentration camp" to describe the Trump administration's string of prison camps, detention facilities, and other installations meant to incarcerate immigrants in highly concentrated numbers?
That question has been a subject of national debate since at least the summer of Conservatives predictably pushed back against this language, alleged that Ocasio-Cortez was appropriating the history of the Holocaust, and claimed therefore that her word choice was offensive to Jewish people.
The Last Trial
Right-wing gentiles like Cheney are not credible advocates for Jewish Americans; their invocation of the Holocaust is a bad-faith ploy to distract Americans from the horrors of the current camps. It's true that the Nazi regime built a particularly substantial network of prison camps and then slowly morphed them into factories for genocide in ways that were, and remain, unique. But concentration camps are disturbingly normal in this modern era. They have a global history that long predates the specific horrors of Nazi Germany. They also have a national history in the U. The horrors of Trump's prison camps have been clear since at least , when The New Yorker published images of the prison for children in Tornillo, Texas.
This past fall, the New York Times broke the news that the Trump administration was secretly deporting immigrant children to the Tornillo camp.
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At least 24 immigrants have died in Trump camps. Journalist Jonathan Katz catalogued the intentional savagery at these border camps , including torture through sleep deprivation, freezing-cold conditions, children stuck in vans for over 37 hours, detainees confined to dog kennels, starvation, and a lack of basic medicine. Even if these camps were less hellish, Katz writes, there is still no such thing as a good concentration camp. Katz reminds us that international journalists deemed Dachau a nicely run facility in We all know how that escalated. These conditions have led experts in the history of concentration camps to defend the use of that label in the current American context.
Yes, Trump's Detention Centers Are Concentration Camps
Historian Andrea Pitzer, author of One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps , defines concentration camps as facilities used for the "detention of civilians without trial based on group identity. These were not death camps per se, but vast numbers of people died in each by design, as governments tried to crush, expel, and isolate specific populations.
The same thing seems to be happening along the American Southern border.
Pitzer writes that, in the face of a president openly expressing "animosity toward those interned [and under circumstances] in which a government detains people and harms them by separating children from their parents or deliberately putting them in danger," we need to acknowledge the border camps as the latest entry in this terrible history. These are concentration camps, and denying as much merely prepares the way for worse atrocities to come.
There's a specifically North American story here as well. Today, after collecting bones that still remained scattered, we put them to rest, creating a sense of closure for at least some of those who deserved so much more respect than they received. This chilling view through the barbed wire of Majdanek left me speechless. May the memory of all who perished during this dark period in our history be for a blessing.
Over the course of our trip, I learned so much about what happened in Poland not so long ago. And yet, after being here, after walking in the footsteps of those who faced such awful tragedy, after seeing unthinkable things and hearing stories directly from a survivor of these death camps, there is absolutely no way that I can understand why all of this had to happen.
Robbed of their possessions, stripped of their clothes and their dignity, humiliated before being brutally and mercilessly murdered, often times reduced to ashes or thrown in mass graves — Jews had to endure such horror because of certain beliefs, a certain faith and love for kindness and goodness in humanity.
Free Holocaust Essays and Papers
There is no understanding why this happened to so many innocent people. We live to tell the tale. And by not allowing the darkness to break their spirits or dilute their faith, our Jewish ancestors will forever instill me with a sense of pride and love for humanity. Your words and pictures continue to inspire me and move me beyond words.
Thank you for sharing this incredibly personal tribute to those beautiful souls lost so senselessly years ago. Well told Jeremy. Thank you for exposing the light that came out of this very dark time in human history. Thank-you for capturing your experience in your beautiful essay so that we could share in your experience.
23 Pictures That Capture The Horrors Of The Holocaust
Jews were in Poland for one thousand years; they found refuge in Poland when they were expelled from most other kingdoms in Europe. It was the center of Jewish culture in the world for centuries, which is exhibited at the Museum of Polish Jews in Warsaw, very worthy of a visit during a Jewish heritage tour. Of course, the Holocaust is a seminal chapter of Jewish history, but what a shame that it completely obscures practically all other aspects of the Jewish presence in Poland.
What a moving and heartfelt retelling, through words and pictures, of a most painful period.
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Thank you for sharing your insights in such a profound way. Top 40 Philanthropy Blogs and Websites to Follow in Search this website Hide Search.
Auschwitz: The Camp of Death
By Jeremy Berkowitz During my winter break this year, instead of heading to the beach or planning a road trip, I made a change and pushed myself out of my comfort zone. What follows are my findings in words and pictures. Comments Jeremy, Your words and pictures continue to inspire me and move me beyond words.
May God continue to bless you and all whom you love.
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