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January 1970

The German Concentration Camp as a Psychological Stress: Homo homini lupus (Man is a wolf to man).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1970;22(1):78-87. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1970.01740250080012

THE BLOODY chronicles of recorded history have, time after time, demonstrated the truth of this bitter adage, but never more clearly than in the treatment of the Jewish minority under their control by the German Nazis of the hitlerian reich. Therefore, in a symposium on the psychological aspects of stress, the concentration camp experience can serve as a paradigm of how the human organism reacts to stressful conditions which approach the outermost limits of human adaptability.

All of the concentration camps set up by the Geheime Staats Polizei (SS) in Germany and occupied Europe were not alike and the differences between extermination camps and labor camps were certainly significant. However, the conditions faced by the inmates of all concentration camps can only be described, in the words A.P.J. Taylor, as "loathsome beyond belief." In addition to the out-and-out extermination measures, the physical stresses endured by the prisoners included