It was the British who first brought the term ‘concentration camp’ into common use. During the 2nd Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) in South Africa the British Army found itself faced by guerrilla forces who were being sheltered and supported by the civilian Boer population.
The British Commander in Chief, General Kitchener gave orders to “sweep clean” the territories where the Boer guerrillas operated. Then a scorched earth policy was implemented to ensure that the guerrillas had no supplies or shelter. The civilians living in those areas were moved into camps. The 50 camps were poorly managed, there were shortages of essential supplies and over 26,000 women and children died there. The Boers called these camps ‘laagers’.
Forty years later the Nazis introduced the ‘Konzentrationslager, initially to hold political prisoners, then slave labour then as extermination camps for the “Final Solution”. Also, as we have seen when looking at the Monte Sole massacre, the SS adopted the ideas of “scorched earth tactics and “sweeping clean” the areas where resistance or irregular forces were operating.
W.T. Stead, a British journalist writing at the time about civilian deaths in the British concentration camps observed:
Every one of those children who died as a result of the halving of their rations….was purposefully murdered. The system of half rations stands exposed…as a cold-blooded deed of state policy employed with the purpose of ensuring the surrender of men whom we were not able to defeat on the field.
"Our death camps in South Africa”, Review of Reviews, Vol.XXV 1902