Network of Terror: The Nazi Concentration Camps, Karin Orth, Das System der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager: Eine politische Organisationsgeschichte, Karin Orth, Die Konzentrationslager-SS: Sozialstrukturelle Analysen und biographische Studien
This review article examines two recent books by Karin Orth: Das System der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager and Die Konzentrationslager-SS. They link the shifting organizational structure of the concentration camps to their changing aims and major inmate and victim groups as well as to changes in the leading personnel. Special attention is given to the camps during the war period and to the connections between forced labor, “selection” principles and mass murder from 1941 onward. In a social analysis, the top staff of the concentration camps is described as a cohesive group from the lower middle-class, lacking higher education, who had been activists on the far right since the 1920s and were formed by their common experience in the camps. Their motives for mass murder are difficult to figure out due to a lack of sources. It remains an open question as to whether they reflected on their crimes, or committed them without question.