Prisoner Dehumanization: Nazi & Panopticon Camps

In this essay, I will compare the authoritarian rule of concentration camps and the Panopticon, analyze the commonalities of rulers, and finally conclude how extreme rule destroys personality. During his year in Auschwitz, Primo Levi saw the threat of loss, disease, hunger, cold, and death in this concentration camp, a tiny society separated from the rest of the world. Even on the last day of liberation, the greed, the weakness of the species, and the remaining humanity constituted an apocalyptic scene.

In the eyes of the Germans, the concentration camp people were a different kind of creature. There seems to be no mistreatment or inhumanity in the management of the concentration camp. If the camp were a farm, and the prisoners were livestock, everything seemed to be explained in a very reasonable way.

For the rigid and disciplined German rulers, all they needed was to provide maximum output through the concentration camp workforce. So, just like feeding livestock, soup is given every day, just enough for the most basic body supplies.

It didn’t matter to them to starve one or two people to death, because more and more people will be shipped off to concentration camps, and they didn’t deliberately treat the torture of prisoners as a pleasure, just as physical punishment for disobedience, for not working or making mistakes. Like the braids of cattle that do not plow, the Germans let them be tamed, obedient, and go where they need to go. They even provide medical treatment, for minor injuries that can be treated, and if it’s not cost-effective, they send them to the gas chamber, and then to the crematorium.

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It’s like dealing with infected livestock.

The Germans in the concentration camps acted with terrible rigor and indifference. When all civilization is abolished, man is fundamentally barbaric, selfish, and stupid. When the 20th century’s civilized people arrived in the concentration camps, they seemed to have abandoned all that they had learned in civilized society, leaving only the animal instinct of greed and selfishness. Theft is commonplace, and no one will stand up for someone who has nothing to do with him, even if the same thing happens to him one day. When human beings are faced with the physical needs and suffering of the body, many customs, and social natures are abandoned. The man who is deprived of his loved ones, of his family, of his habits, of his clothes, of everything else, becomes nothing, reduced to pain and need, forgetting his dignity and judgment.

Just as the ruler wants you to be, you naturally become an animal, losing the dignity and self that makes you human. Panopticon, as a specific discipline technology, is the embodiment of the discipline mechanism conquering the legal system. Judiciary is said to be “equal” and legal mechanisms are said to be “autonomous”, but the word “discipline ” indicates that the ruler and the criminal are not on equal footing. This situation marked the birth of the prison as the “civilized punishment”. Second, it is isolated from the outside and highly integrated inside; In the end, it exerts almost absolute power over prisoners.

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Prisoner Dehumanization: Nazi & Panopticon Camps. (2023, Apr 22). Retrieved from

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