What Is A Concentration Camp? | Mia Mulder

What Is A Concentration Camp? | Mia Mulder



this is one of those topics that you don't really make youtube videos about because the topic is so sensitive that whatever you say on the topic it's sure to invite controversy but tonight I hope to deconstruct a few terms and perhaps give you an idea about what the word concentration camp really means and so starting out today's video I want you to try to think in as abstract terms as possible what is a concentration camp in 2017 Donald Trump's administration did a bit of a policy change which has gotten a lot of people very upset currently people who are crossing the southern American border are doing so at risk of being detained including those who are asking for asylum doing so also sometimes strips children away from their families as children and adults cannot be interned or detained in the same way or facility and because of this there's been a bit of a media uproar however if you are a Trump supporter or if you support the detention camps I want you to listen I do not believe that Donald Trump is actually Hitler nor do I believe the Donald Trump is owning death camps but some people including important political figures have said that what is happening on the southern border is actually concentration camps United States is running concentration camps on our southern border and that is exactly what they are they are a concentration camp the fact that concentration camps are now in institutionalized practice in the home of the free is extraordinarily disturbing and so I make this video for the people who might see this and think that this disrespects victims of actual concentration camps that it D values the term concentration camp and to do so we need to talk about what the term concentration camp actually means and to do that I'm going to mention some topics in the meanwhile I am going to talk a little bit about Nazis I'm gonna talk a little bit about the Holocaust but I'm gonna try to keep this discussion as much in the abstract that is possible if you will allow me and so before I start in earnest some background is needed many reports have come out that the conditions in the detention camps are abysmal are horrific and so the real question is can this be compared to concentration camps is that comparison valid and I want you to think about that question I won't be able to answer it but the question that we're most concerned with is this what is a concentration camp first things first the word concentration camp the first thing you might think of are the death camps of the Holocaust and you're definitely not wrong for thinking that but it is an incomplete picture the word concentration in concentration camps comes from the purpose of the camps to gather and intern groups of people belonging to a specific group to concentrate them usually in horrifying conditions and camp well that's probably the least interesting part of that word the phrase concentration camp is actually a euphemism coined in the early 1900's originally called re concentration camp and during those days the word concentration camp had connotations of detention center relocation camp it did not have the incredibly negative connotation until the Holocaust which is obviously understandable but this is not the same thing as an extermination camp which is a camp built for the specific purpose of mass murder instead concentration camps could fill a variety of roles from forced labor to detention to temporary holding of prisoners and what people did and do die at these facilities – that is not the explicit purpose most scholars therefore try to keep a distinguishing line between the term concentration camp and extermination camp however there are some who argue that extermination camps are merely a category of concentration camps but for this video specifically I wanted to keep the terms separated this distinction however is incredibly important because during this discussion there are some people who will say that concentration camps and the response to that well sometimes be what's going on at the border what family separation isn't horrific it is but I do think that there is a big difference between being rounded up by Nazis for the intention of being exterminate it is a huge difference and I will say you have the Auschwitz Museum coming out and condemning this you have the Jewish Community Relations Council calling this deeply disturbed by the language and urge her to refrain from making the comparison I too agree that you cannot compare anything to the Holocaust six million plus people were exterminated I think I understand everyone's emotion but those statements can be true at the same time they are not mutually exclusive and so we return to the question what is a concentration camp now the easy answer to that question is the literal description which I just described but it's very generic it doesn't quite cover the bases that we wanted to cover because well gathering a specific group of people in a concentration in poor conditions that can also incorporate prisons or refugee centers simply going by the literal description then the comparison is apt that is what Trump is doing albeit in a lesser scale than Nazi Germany however less bad than the loss is a really low bar to cover however we all pretty much accept that there is more to it than that there are connotations there are other historical implications that the camps in America might not cover and therefore they shouldn't be called concentration camps this is the argument of many other people who argue against calling them concentration camps so let's ground this definition in something let's talk about arguably the first concentration camp that I think everyone can agree what definitely was a concentration camp Dachau so Dachau was opened in 1933 right after Adolf Hitler had solidified power in Germany it was built from an old munitions factory and had recently been converted to halt around 5,000 prisoners the reason why it opened however is incredibly important because there's an assumption among many people that the concept of a prison and the concept of a concentration camp are inherently different from each other and that's not really the historical case a part of why this concentration camp was opened was to deal with political opponents communists socialists and anarchists while the Nazis were still solidifying their power they did this with the justification that these groups were terrorists they were gang members that they were thugs that they were somehow plotting against Germany itself in the eyes of the Nazis they were terrorists who were imminently going to destroy Germany and so Dachau was opened and wasn't some secret shameful Nazi back-alley dealing it was in the news on Wednesday the first concentration camp is to be opened in Dachau with an accommodation for 5,000 people all communists and where necessary Reich's banner and social democratic functionaries who endanger state security are to be concentrated here as in the long run it is not possible to keep individual functionaries in the state prisons without overburdening these prisons because the technical definition of concentration camp might sometimes also include prisons and more mainstream internment facilities everyone kind of agrees that the term concentration camp is more extreme that there is something about concentration camps that makes them inherently different from prisons and other forms of internment two of the features often cited are scale and severity the idea that concentration camps are larger in scale and harsher in punishment and because of that I have created for this video and for this video specifically a type of spectrum on one end there are no prisons at all there are no concentration camps there are no prisons there is no form of internment whatsoever and what you imagine as an alternative to that that's up to you but the point is no one is being forcibly removed from freedom so to say on the other end of that spectrum is forced death the total removal of freedom even if that system changes in the future you can't be saved from death even in the next worst option which assumed to be forced to be dying you can still be saved every single country on earth operates on this spectrum when it comes to the judicial system the jail system the prison system etc and the idea is that on one extreme on the spectrum that's where the concentration camps are that's where the line is drawn some cases are just too spectacular but that's not really true that's because from the point of an individual prisoner the most extreme you can go is death and there are many countries who have the death penalty that we wouldn't really say or run in concentration camps and so the other factor plays in scale the idea is that somewhere there's a line where if you do too much harsh punishments to too many people that's when it starts getting into concentration Camp territory so let's add another dimension to the spectrum on the high end everyone is interned everyone is punished by whatever punishment system that you have and again every single country on earth operates somewhere along this line on the low end of this axis almost no one is punished by the severity in the system and on the high end almost everyone is but where exactly do you draw the line between a system of concentration camps and a normal prison system for an individual prisoner who dies in poor conditions that line doesn't really matter that much and beyond that from the perspective of the people interning in a specific camp does it really matter what the scale and severity is outside of that camp and remember Dachau started with only 5,000 prisoners ice is currently holding over 50,000 moreover the early camps were built to supplement their already existing state prisons which were already filling the same function as concentration camps but when we think of concentration camps we don't think of prisons even if they in Nazi Germany fulfilled exactly the same function early on but there is one more factor that is sometimes used to reject concentration camps but justify prisons guilt in tournament is different from imprisonment internment is the idea of imprisoning someone without charge or without a fair trial usually under poor conditions this difference is what distinguishes real prisoners from innocent prisoners when people say that history is written by the victor this is an important point because who gets to decide who is charged fairly who gets to decide who has a fair trial beyond that even if we accept that some people shouldn't be charged with crimes who gets to decide what poor conditions are probably the most common argument as to why the camps on the southern border aren't concentration camps is this the people across the border are criminals they've committed a crime is their fault for committing the crime and therefore can't be a concentration camp because real victims of concentration camps are innocent and that's true from our point of view history is written by the victor and it wasn't the Nazis who won the war and so they didn't get to decide who was treated fairly and who was interned fairly we got to do that we the non Nazi side got to say that the people who were victims of Nazi concentration camps were innocent or at least some of them you could say that well we have courts we have learned from the mistakes of the past and we have fair courts now but who gets to decide that the courts are fair take a notable example children in immigration courts sometimes young as three years old representing themselves in court regarding removal proceedings deportations you would think something that outrageous wouldn't be allowed in most courts however in immigration court you are not entitled to legal representation that's pretty unique beyond that in the normal court system of America most cases don't go to trial instead relying on plea bargains minimum sentencing issues are these courts fair if they're not can we really say that the people who are imprisoned or interned under that system have had a fair trial we get to say that it is a fair trial but the Nazis had courts too had the Nazis won they would almost surely say that their courts were fair too there is a concept sometimes used in history called a sham Court which is a legal system that doesn't fairly practice its laws for the political goals of the people in power a u.s. immigration court where only one side has the right to legal representation could definitely be categorized as one now does it compare to Nazi courts not really obviously not but we're not talking about a direct equivalence we're not saying that the camps on the southern border are Nazi concentration camps we're saying that their concentration camps that's not the same thing I'm you're saying that in the court system that is heavily flawed that often discriminates that often has issues structural issues maybe the people who are subject to those courts aren't subject to a fair trial and so can we really say that the people who are interned in the ice camps are guilty that's not to mention the case of asylum seekers who are being interned seeking asylum is not a crime it's a human rights to intern people who are seeking asylum is that best a bit Shady and at worst flagrant violations of human rights can someone who is interned for seeking asylum really have fair legal representation actually while I was editing this a court ruled that asylum seekers cannot be interned indefinitely but they are still interned but there was a reason the argument of legality doesn't always work there's an idea then that because the concentration camps in Germany held innocent people that this was a crime and it was a crime against humanity certainly but not in Germany from the laws that existed in the context and at the time the concentration camps the mass murder the Holocaust was all entirely legal the argument of legality doesn't hold up even if we assume that every single person interned in detention facilities is objectively legally guilty we decide what is legal and what isn't there is no objective law there is no objective rule the law is created by people and if we say that something inhuman is legal it doesn't really change anything the story that surrounds the idea of concentration camp is deeply tied with the history of the Second World War that is where most people hear about the call center concentration camp that is their first Anchor Point into what the term means history telling relies on telling a narrative and the view of the Second World War from much of the Western world is a narrative of good versus evil and you can most certainly argue that that is what happened but the truth is complicated this type of storytelling often raises Nazis to a form of mythical demon some conceptual evil that doesn't really exist in real life in every day scenarios and the same things happen with concentration camps even when we fully accept that they happen because they are lifted to this absurd evil and it is but they are lifted to a form of evil that we can connect to it allows us to think of the Second World War and the genocides perpetrated during the war as being mythical almost unreal but the truth is that they are real and also more common than you think the concept of a concentration camp isn't new it existed long before the Second World War and will exist long after and it's not something that just Nazis can do while doing literally the worst genocide the human race has ever seen because the Nazis the guards the mass murderers and the planners of the Holocaust were all human they were all people evil people I grant you but they were all people often we only pay attention to concentration camps when they are hard to ignore and that's a hard truth to because the narrative the concentration camps is so deeply tied to the idea of the second world war there's also an idea that the Allies helped free Europe from tyranny but that's not what happened you could definitely argue that was a result of what happened but it was not the reason why it happened again concentration camps were in the news in 1933 the Nuremberg Laws that's legalized and codified racial discrimination they happened in 1935 the war broke out in 1939 if the Allies really wanted to rid Europe of Terror we had plenty of opportunity to do but they didn't again I mentioned this not to downplay anything I mention it because this narrative alienates the concept of concentration camps genocide mass murder mass internment and fascism too this abstract and this is important because by doing this by alienating these concepts so much we dismissed the idea that it could happen here it allows us to create a narrative even among the most evil of us that no matter how evil I am no matter how evil the government is no matter how bad the military system works no matter how bad the prison system is it can't be as bad as that nothing can be as bad as fascism nothing can be as bad as the Nazi death camps and so anything that is even remotely connected to it kind of gets a free pass because it's not literally that it's not actually that thing as I mentioned earlier a common response is that well America isn't running death camps America isn't killing millions of people that's not happening currently in camps but should we really have to wait until it gets that far remember Dachau one of the worst concentration camps but also the first opened with five thousand prisoners and used forced labor in poor conditions that was it in 1933 it got worse and that's why I said it in the beginning I don't believe that Donald Trump is a literally Hitler I don't believe that even if America is running concentration camps they are Nazi concentration camps that's not happening but no one is saying that what people are saying is there are features happening there are reminiscent of bad things to come maybe we should act now before it gets worse even if Donald Trump wanted to be Hitler even if Donald Trump wanted to reshape America to be Nazi Germany with the uniforms and the aesthetic and the swastikas he couldn't do that simply because the circumstances are different and because history doesn't work that way history is cyclical isn't literal so large part of this is how do we define words how would do words work I feel like a lot of online arguments essentially boiled down to that how do we just define terms and and the word of today is obviously concentration camp what is a concentration camp in history using a kind of checklist approach trying to like dot off like oh this thing has that and that and that and that and that and if it meets the criteria for a word it becomes that word history doesn't work like that and also words don't really work like that either the better question to ask is what purpose does this concept fill for what reason does this concept exist the thing is this actually has nothing to do with Donald Trump Donald Trump was in the news a lot sure but he's not really because of this because well Obama had similar issues so did Bush so did a lot of presidents in America hell any nation with deep flaws in the judicial system and prisons with poor conditions could probably technically fall under the umbrella of having concentration camps and one could say that the American prison system with its hundreds of thousands of prisoners and flawed judicial system that frequently discriminates and oftentimes does not go to trial with poor legal representation for common people you could say that the entire American prison system is a form of concentration camp you could say that you could okay well let's say that I'm wrong let's say this entire video is wrong let's say that the camps run by ice on the southern border in poor conditions where they in turn people without fair representation for arbitrary reasons are just objectively not concentration camps for whatever reason there they have an essence of not concentration camp II what do you call those camps say you call them detention camps okay fine whatever they are detention facilities is that okay no then because the issue isn't the word the issue has never been the word concentration camp and that's why it kind of hurts me to talk about Italy in this way in this video because the word is unimportant the words the word what matters is the conditions of the people in turn'd do they have do they have legal representation do they have livable conditions do they have human rights respected if they don't you should work on that it doesn't matter if you call it a concentration camp or not you can call it a concentration camp alight if that makes you feel better the reason I think why people even talk about the word is about the word is a concept and that's why I have talked about it as a concept here but the concept is abstract and unimportant thing instead of the conditions for an individual prisoner how would they define it they might not define it as a concentration camp and that's fine but if they died in an ice facility doesn't really matter at that point isn't that kind of already bad enough no matter what you call it so if you don't want to call a concentration camps that okay from behind and don't but historically they fulfill the same purpose they exist for the same purpose they have similar conditions and they're really bad no matter what you call it the word does not matter the conditions in the camps do and if you care more about the word than about the actual material conditions for the people who are suffering under them then I don't know how to convince you because at that point you care more about words than morals there's nothing I can do to convince anyone who believes that I would like to thank all my patrons for helping me make sure that I can make this video it's I feel like it's the least I can do considering the circumstances I want to give special thanks to I nee salminen Amelia Fletcher our Grieco new Sean it's fun patron Christopher Stein Muller Xbox Eamonn Rutkowski Emma not Goldman Fox can't Garrett Gutierrez Jane must be Garrigan Danielson katarzyna JJ Kim kitchens L P Q silver leanness Hopalong lien Sagan Marcin servin Nicolas treviño Phobos 2 3 9 0 Rosie Ryan Kolak Sula Emmanuel vendor William Petri and Rex you

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  1. thank you SO MUCH for this, this topic is something ive been trying to explain for a while now to well-meaning yet misguided friends and family. Calling the ICE camps "concentration camps" isnt the same thing as saying theyre literally the same things as the nazi concentration camps. great work! also trying to keep the engagement up by commenting ♥

  2. Very well done video Mia, my fellow human being. I definately want to see more of your works. Lemme know if you want any help providing video shot in minnesota, public, nature, anything… I would love to help out. There is a lot of urban decay, rural decay and other interesting things that could be useful to you.

  3. "A lot of internet arguments boil down to that- how do we define terms" YES. If I say something is communist to my conservative parents, they'll conjure up a very different idea than if I said it to a breadtube person haha. And that's what this whole debate has turn into- people focusing on the semantics of this phrase instead of the reality

  4. I enjoyed the points you brought happiness video other if I could give some constructive criticism, I think the speech style could be improved so that it feels like a more consistent stream of thought. Right now it feels like you're waiting for me to answer back.

  5. I have no issue with calling them concentration camps or detention centers. Both the US and Germany had concentration camps, but in the US we did not do mass extermination, so does that mean our camps in the 1940s were not really concentration camps? Cages, guns, guards, not a freaking day spa!

  6. That is a very dangerous attitude to have: "You cannot compare anything to the Holocaust."

    So the purpose to remembering history is to be able to compare your current situation to hit to make sure you aren't repeating those mistakes. We are moving in the same direction as the Nazis. We aren't at Holocaust levels, yet, but why the fuck should we wait until that point to stop things. Do we now refuse to act as a society until we're worse than Nazi Germany??? Can we compare things to the Holocaust, then? What the fuck is wrong with people? And being Jewish doesn't mean you can't be a coward who'd rather bury your head in the sand than stand up for someone else's human rights. And honestly considering the current political climate I don't even blame them so much for wanting to keep their heads down

    Edit: I'm so happy Mia said the same thing about not waiting until we're as bad as the Holocaust and its death camps

  7. Being born 50 km from Auschwitz i was always aware of the distinction. Also, i would not put much value on opinion of current administration of Auschwitz Museum. Current gov is borderline fasc and they have put their guys in charge there, since then weird things happen. They spin nationalistic take on WW II where it's Germans that are bad and ideology is conviniently pushed aside…

  8. I think this all goes back to the terrible way we are taught about The Holocaust in The US. We are taught about The Holocaust as some singular, unprecedented event which was so evil that only Nazi Germany had ever done it. This line of thinking leads us Americans to take the wrong lessons from The Holocaust, namely we look at it as we must intervene to stop someone else from doing it, as we genuinely are taught that it could never happen here. As such, we really do fantasticize The Nazis and turn them into something more akin to Tolkien's Orcs than an actual political movement born out of the same beliefs which we held for most of our history.

    For us, Never Again resulted in us over-focusing on anti-semitism (as important as it may be to oppose) and ignoring our own history of white supremacy against Black, Hispanic, and Native populations within our own nation. We literally can't see a connection, because without anti-semitism as your primary ideology, how could you build concentration camps?

  9. In the words of Rep. Ilhan Omar, "There are camps, and people are being concentrated. This is very simple. I don't know why this is a controversial thing to say." I'm glad you highlighted Meghan McCain's comments. It's one thing for Jews connected in some way or fashion to the Holocaust to object to the use of the term "concentration camps" because of its connotation. As you underscore, it becomes an issue of words over morality, and while I'm personally glad some American Jews are taking up the cause of detainees in these camps because they see the historical parallels, I understand the reluctance on others' part.

    It's another thing, however, for the likes of McCain and Liz Cheney to use the suffering of millions of Jews as a political football in a disingenuous attack on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other Democrats. No one appointed these women arbiters of this discussion, especially not so they could make their arguments in bad faith.

  10. Every single one of the disingenuous turds pearl-clutching about AOC's rhetoric on the camps has invoked the Holocaust to describe something like Obamacare, the EPA, the expiration of tax cuts, being wished "Happy Holidays," black people in a comic book movie, or a female video game character showing less cleavage than she did in a previous game.

  11. I had this sat on my “to watch” list since it came out as I hadn’t really been in a mood to watch something discussing something so dark.

    I’m really glad I got around to watching it today. I think this is your best work yet. It’s a topic I have discussed with friends that now thanks to this video I feel I have more perspective on and will do better talking about in the future.
    Thanks Mia

  12. The 6 million figure talked about when discussing the Holocaust is a form of Nazi revisionism. It ignores the Roma, political prisoners, LGBTQ+ folk, and POW (totaling around 11 million (in addition to the 6 million Jews killed)) who were also killed. Centering Nazi's war crimes to just the persecution of Jewish people allows for modern fascists to rebuff comparisons when their targets aren't Jewish.

  13. So glad to hear this. “Never again” doesn’t just mean “never let Hitler seize the Reichstag in the 30s” it means never allow oppression, hate, and racism to have any standing ever again.

  14. You randomly popped up in my feed after bingeing on Philosophy Tube all weekend. Are you channeling Olly or is he channeling you? 😛 Great video regardless.

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