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Britain invented the Concentration Camp


John Simkin
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Emily Hobhouse, like many members of the radical wing of the Liberal Party, was opposed to the Boer War. Over the first few weeks of the war Emily spoke at several public meetings where she denounced the activities of the British government.

In late 1900 Emily was sent details of how women and children were being treated by the British Army. She later wrote: "poor women who were being driven from pillar to post, needed protection and organized assistance. And from that moment I was determined to go to South Africa in order to render assistance to them".

In October 1900, Emily formed the Relief Fund for South African Women and Children. An organisation set up: "To feed, clothe, harbour and save women and children - Boer, English and other - who were left destitute and ragged as a result of the destruction of property, the eviction of families or other incidents resulting from the military operations". Except for members of the Society of Friends, very few people were willing to contribute to this fund.

Hobhouse arrived in South Africa on 27th December, 1900. After meeting Alfred Milner, she gained permission to visit the concentration camps that had been established by the British Army. However, Lord Kitchener objected to this decision and she was now told she could only go to Bloemfontein.

She left Cape Town on 22nd January, 1901, and arrived at Bloemfontein two days later. There were at the time eighteen hundred people in the camp. Emily discovered "that there was a scarcity of essential provision and that the accommodation was wholly inadequate." When she complained about the lack of soap she was told, "soap is an article of luxury". She nevertheless succeeded ultimately to have it listed as a necessity, together with straw and kettles in which to boil the drinking water.

Over the next few weeks Emily visited several camps to the south of Bloemfontein, including Norvalspont, Aliwal North, Springfontein, Kimberley and Orange River. She was also allowed to visit Mafeking. Everywhere she directed the attention of the authorities to the inadequate sanitary accommodation and inadequate rations.

By the time that Emily returned to Bloemfontein in March 1901, the population had grown considerably. She later wrote: " The population had redoubled and had swallowed up the results of improvements that had been effected. Disease was on the increase and the sight of the people made the impression of utter misery. Illness and death had left their marks on the faces of the inhabitants. Many that I had left hale and hearty, of good appearance and physically fit, had undergone such a change that I could hardly recognize them."

Hobhouse argued that Kitchener’s "Scorched Earth" policy included the systematic destruction of crops and slaughtering of livestock, the burning down of homesteads and farms, and the poisoning of wells and salting of fields - to prevent the Boers from resupplying from a home base. Civilians were then forcibly moved into the concentration camps. Although this tactic had been used by Spain (Ten Years' War) and the United States (Philippine-American War), it was the first time that a whole nation had been systematically targeted.

Emily decided that she had to return to England in an effort to persuade the Marquess of Salisbury and his government to bring an end to the British Army's scorched earth and concentration camp policy. David Lloyd George and Charles Trevelyan took up the case in the House of Commons and accused the government of "a policy of extermination" directed against the Boer population. William St John Fremantle Brodrick, the Secretary of State for War argued that the interned Boers were "contented and comfortable" and stated that everything possible was being done to ensure satisfactory conditions in the camps.

The vast majority of MPs showed little sympathy to the plight of the Boers. Hobhouse later wrote: "The picture of apathy and impatience displayed here, which refused to lend an ear to undeserved misery, contrasted sadly with the scenes of misery in South Africa, still fresh in my mind. No barbarity in South Africa was as severe as the bleak cruelty of an apathetic parliament."

In August, 1901, the British government established a commission headed by Millicent Fawcett to visit South Africa. While the Fawcett Commission was carrying out the investigation, the government published its own report. According to the New York Times: “The War Office has issued a four-hundred-page Blue Book of the official reports from medical and other officers on the conditions in the concentration camps in South Africa. The general drift of the report attributes the high mortality in these camps to the dirty habits of the Boers, their ignorance and prejudices, their recourse to quackery, and their suspicious avoidance of the British hospitals and doctors.”

The Fawcett Commission confirmed almost everything that Emily Hobhouse had reported. After the war a report concluded that 27,927 Boers had died of starvation, disease and exposure in the concentration camps. In all, about one in four of the Boer inmates, mostly children, died. However, the South African historian, Stephen Burridge Spies argues in Methods of Barbarism: Roberts and Kitchener and Civilians in the Boer Republics (1977) that this is an under-estimate of those who died in the camps.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Whobhouse.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWkitchener.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/WfawcettM.htm

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Unfortunately others employed such tactics before the British.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentration_camp#Concentration_camps

Hobhouse argued that Kitchener’s "Scorched Earth" policy included the systematic destruction of crops and slaughtering of livestock, the burning down of homesteads and farms, and the poisoning of wells and salting of fields - to prevent the Boers from resupplying from a home base. Civilians were then forcibly moved into the concentration camps. Although this tactic had been used by Spain (Ten Years' War) and the United States (Philippine-American War), it was the first time that a whole nation had been systematically targeted.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Whobhouse.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWkitchener.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/WfawcettM.htm

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That's a pretty good description of the invasion of North America and the slaughter of the buffalos, the infecting of natives with tainted cloth, the herding into reservations, the massacres, etc etc.

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That's a pretty good description of the invasion of North America and the slaughter of the buffalos, the infecting of natives with tainted cloth, the herding into reservations, the massacres, etc etc.

Good point. I suppose the only difference is that it was "the first time that a whole nation had been systematically targeted".

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That's a pretty good description of the invasion of North America and the slaughter of the buffalos, the infecting of natives with tainted cloth, the herding into reservations, the massacres, etc etc.

Good point. I suppose the only difference is that it was "the first time that a whole nation had been systematically targeted".

John D. beat me to the punch, it depends how you define nation, the Americans used such camps (reservations) against entire ethnic groups several of which went extinct. The author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, wrote:

...Although European nations professed to be shocked by our actions on the western frontier, before long they were emulating us. Britain exterminated the Tasmanian aborigines; Germany pursued total war against the Herrero of Namibia. Most western nations have to face this history. We also have to admit that Adolf Hitler displayed more knowledge of how we treated Native Americans than American high schoolers who rely on their textbooks. Hitler admired our concentration camps for Indians in the west "and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America's extermination—by starvation and uneven combat" as the model for his extermination of Jews and Gypsies.

http://ww2.ramapo.edu/libfiles/CRW/Lies%20My%20Teacher%20Told%20Me.pdf?n=5904 pg. 118 - PDF Pg. 124

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I'm inclined to think that the term 'Concentration camp', like 'Total war', was itself an important invention, rather than the activity it described. However, it was used in relation to the customs of war previously accepted by Europeans, at any rate when they were fighting other Europeans, in previous centuries. From a wider perspective I'm not sure how useful either term is, especially from the point of view of looking at warfare from the point of view of non-combatants. After all, in many ways a besieged city, while not actually isolating a civilian population, has all the other characteristics of a concentration camp. Most accounts of warfare tend to be from the point of view of the proud conqueror:

"With battle and slaughter I stormed the city and captured it. 3,000 of their warriors I put to the sword; their spoils and their possessions, their cattle and sheep I carried off. Many captives from among them I burned with fire, and many I took as living captives. From some I cut off their hands and their fingers, and from others I cut off their noses, their ears, and their fingers (?), of many I put out the eyes. I made one pillar of the living, and another of heads, and I bound their heads to posts round about the city. Their young men and maidens I burned in the fire, the city I destroyed, I devastated, I burned it with fire and consumed it ...

I took the city, and 800 of their fighting men I put to the sword, and cut off their heads. Multitudes I captured alive, and the rest of them I burned with fire, and carried off their heavy spoil. I formed a pillar of the living and of heads over against his city gate and 700 men I impaled on stakes over against their city gate. The city I destroyed, I devastated, and I turned it into a mound and ruin heap. Their young men and their maidens I burned in the fire."

From the annals of Ashurnasirpal ll (c883 BC - 859 BC) quoted from 'The First Armies' by Doyne Dawson.

What's important about Emily Hobhouse is that from her and people like her we begin to see this nasty facet of human nature from the point of view of the victims.

Edited by Norman Pratt
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A POV well worth studying, Norman.

I find it hard to articulate my thoughts on this. I think an important consideration is what is the mechanism at work.

We don't do these things on such a grand scale to our 'own'. It's always some 'other' that in being other is somehow less and in being less both parties are dehumanised.

Inevitably I think one must consider racism.

this article imo goes some way in looking for an understanding.

http://www.answers.com/topic/family

scroll down >

...

Oedipal family model and fascism

The model, common in the western societies, of the family triangle, husband-wife-children isolated from the outside, is also called the oedipal model of the family, and it is a form of patriarchal family. Many philosophers and psychiatrists analyzed such a model. One of the most prominent of such studies is Anti-Œdipus by Deleuze and Guattari (1972). Michel Foucault, in its renowned preface, remarked how the primary focus of this study is the fight against contemporary fascism.[30]

" And not only historical fascism, the fascism of Hitler and Mussolini [...] but also the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us. "

In the family, they argue, the young develop in a perverse relationship, wherein they learn to love the same person who beats and oppresses them. The family therefore constitutes the first cell of the fascist society, as they will carry this attitude of love for oppressive figures in their adult life.[30][31] Fathers torment their sons.[17][32] Deleuze and Guattari, in their analysis of the dynamics at work within a family, "track down all varieties of fascism, from the enormous ones that surround and crush us to the petty ones that constitute the tyrannical bitterness of our everyday lives".[30]

As it has been explained by Deleuze, Guattari and Foucault, as well as other philosophers and psychiatrists such as Laing and Reich, the patriarchal-family conceived in the West tradition serves the purpose of perpetuating a propertarian and authoritarian society.[33] The child grows according to the oedipal model, which is typical of the structure of capitalist societies,[9][10] and he becomes in turn owner of submissive children and protector of the woman.[32][34][35][36][37]

Some argue that the family institution conflicts with human nature and human primitive desires and that one of its core functions is performing a suppression of instincts,[9][10] a repression of desire commencing with the earliest age of the child.[33] As the young undergoes physical and psychological repression from someone for whom they develop love, they develop a loving attitude towards authority figures. They will bring such attitude in their adult life, when they will desire social repression and will form docile subjects for society.[33] Michel Foucault, in his systematic study of sexuality, argued that rather than being merely repressed, the desires of the individual are efficiently mobilized and used,[30] to control the individual, alter interpersonal relationships and control the masses. Foucault believed organized religion, through moral prohibitions, and economic powers, through advertising, make use of unconscious sex drives. Dominating desire, they dominate individuals.[38] According to the analysis of Michel Foucault, in the west:

the [conjugal] family organization, precisely to the extent that it was insular and heteromorphous with respect to the other
mechanisms, was used to support the great "maneuvers" employed for the
control of the birthrate, for the populationist incitements, for the medicalization of sex and the psychiatrization of its nongenital forms. —Michel Foucault,
vol I, chap. IV, sect.
Method
, rule 3, p. 99

Read more: http://www.answers.c...y#ixzz1g8sun5km

edit format

Edited by John Dolva
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A POV well worth studying, Norman.

I find it hard to articulate my thoughts on this. I think an important consideration is what is the mechanism at work.

We don't do these things on such a grand scale to our 'own'. It's always some 'other' that in being other is somehow less and in being less both parties are dehumanised.

Inevitably I think one must consider racism.

this article imo goes some way in looking for an understanding.

http://www.answers.com/topic/family

scroll down >

...

Oedipal family model and fascism

The model, common in the western societies, of the family triangle, husband-wife-children isolated from the outside, is also called the oedipal model of the family, and it is a form of patriarchal family. Many philosophers and psychiatrists analyzed such a model. One of the most prominent of such studies is Anti-Œdipus by Deleuze and Guattari (1972). Michel Foucault, in its renowned preface, remarked how the primary focus of this study is the fight against contemporary fascism.[30]

" And not only historical fascism, the fascism of Hitler and Mussolini [...] but also the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us. "

In the family, they argue, the young develop in a perverse relationship, wherein they learn to love the same person who beats and oppresses them. The family therefore constitutes the first cell of the fascist society, as they will carry this attitude of love for oppressive figures in their adult life.[30][31] Fathers torment their sons.[17][32] Deleuze and Guattari, in their analysis of the dynamics at work within a family, "track down all varieties of fascism, from the enormous ones that surround and crush us to the petty ones that constitute the tyrannical bitterness of our everyday lives".[30]

As it has been explained by Deleuze, Guattari and Foucault, as well as other philosophers and psychiatrists such as Laing and Reich, the patriarchal-family conceived in the West tradition serves the purpose of perpetuating a propertarian and authoritarian society.[33] The child grows according to the oedipal model, which is typical of the structure of capitalist societies,[9][10] and he becomes in turn owner of submissive children and protector of the woman.[32][34][35][36][37]

Some argue that the family institution conflicts with human nature and human primitive desires and that one of its core functions is performing a suppression of instincts,[9][10] a repression of desire commencing with the earliest age of the child.[33] As the young undergoes physical and psychological repression from someone for whom they develop love, they develop a loving attitude towards authority figures. They will bring such attitude in their adult life, when they will desire social repression and will form docile subjects for society.[33] Michel Foucault, in his systematic study of sexuality, argued that rather than being merely repressed, the desires of the individual are efficiently mobilized and used,[30] to control the individual, alter interpersonal relationships and control the masses. Foucault believed organized religion, through moral prohibitions, and economic powers, through advertising, make use of unconscious sex drives. Dominating desire, they dominate individuals.[38] According to the analysis of Michel Foucault, in the west:

the [conjugal] family organization, precisely to the extent that it was insular and heteromorphous with respect to the other
mechanisms, was used to support the great "maneuvers" employed for the
control of the birthrate, for the populationist incitements, for the medicalization of sex and the psychiatrization of its nongenital forms. —Michel Foucault,
vol I, chap. IV, sect.
Method
, rule 3, p. 99

Read more: http://www.answers.c...y#ixzz1g8sun5km

edit format

Thanks, John, for the reading list. The comment about advertising is absolutely right. I confess to writing an advert for the 'Farmer's Weekly' before I became a 'new man', with the headline 'We understand the farmer's needs', which had a picture of an attractive young lady standing at a five-bar gate. I'm not sure whether the sales of Goodyear Tractor Tyres shot up, so to speak, and at the time I just thought it made a change from a picture of a tractor tyre 'facing left', or alternatively one 'facing right'. But I digress. My basic point was that I don't think we have begun to come to terms with either the causes or scale of civilian casualties that result from warfare, although some in this field clearly think we have: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228340.100-steven-pinker-humans-are-less-violent-than-ever.html

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I agree, but I think the reasons are systemic. ( the scale is a matter of the causes in the sense of expediency.) IOW ultimately irreconcilable by the system. I suggest that the inhumanity is essential for the perpetuation of the system.

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