Concentration camps are essentially penal camps and were first created to confine selected groups of people, usually for political reasons. Concentration camps differ from prisons because men, women and children are confined without normal judicial trials; the period of confinement is usually indefinite and camp authorities exercise unlimited, arbitrary power. Concentration camps usually consist of barracks, huts or tents, surrounded by watchtowers and contained by barbed wire fencing. .
The very purpose of concentration camps under the Nazis was for the oppression and persecution of people who were considered undesirable by the Nazi regime on racial, political and religious grounds. Hundreds of thousands of victims were confined to concentration camps because they were simply Jews, Slavs Gypsies, Social Democrats or Communists. They were not tried for any offence or sentenced by a court, not even a Nazi court.
Hitler's final policies on concentration camps were defined at the 1942 Wannsee conference, which clearly outlined the implementation of what was called the Wannsee protocol. The many Death camps were the physical proof of the Protocol, which defined the "Final Solution". .
Range of Opinions .
Some historians believe that Hitler never issued orders and was connected in any way with the organisation and supervision of concentration camps. They raise the question of whether Hitler issued the Final Solution order or not. At the Wannsee Conference the responsibility for the handling of the final solution of the Jewish question and the elements raised was placed on SS - Obergruppenfuhrer Heydrich . .
Also there is the question of whether the German people had knowledge of concentration camps and the activities that were conducted there. Some of the German people must have been aware to an extent of what was performed in the camps, yet most had little or no knowledge about the camps. At times the Concentration camps were called "corrective labour camps", "relocation centres" and "reception centres".