Behind Barbed Wire

A History of Concentration Camps from the Reconcentrados to the Nazi System 1896-1945

by Deborah G. Lindsay, Foreword by Nigel Hamilton


View First 25 Pages: (free download)


Most people associate concentration camps with Nazi Germany. Behind Barbed Wire examines how these notorious World War II camps actually reflected a previous use of the system, a system that began almost a century earlier. In truth, Adolf Hitler had studied the American Indian Reservations as he plotted his regime's attack on European Jews and other minorities. Remarkably, in the years between the reservations and the Nazi camps, the United States, along with several other Western powers, implemented concentration camps throughout the globe, each instance employing more and more barbaric measures with harsher and harsher outcomes. Behind Barbed Wire explains how these nations dubiously justified camp operations by citing military counterinsurgency tactics, containment policies, and simply the ability to prosecute war more easily.

This brief history addresses the subliminal reasons for relocating hundreds of thousands of civilians, why the system became so prevalent, and how concentration camps existed under the cover of armed conflict. It argues that, most often, camps can be facilitated only under the guise of war. Anyone with an interest in military history, World War II, concentration camps, and the plight of the Jews will discover how all these topics converge into a compelling story of war, bigotry, and military might.

Behind Barbed Wire also sheds light on the concentration camp systems that have been employed since the fall of the Nazi dictatorship. With current geopolitical issues focusing on elitism, xenophobia, deplorables, terrorism, and military necessity, this book offers some understanding about the unintended consequences of policy.


Behind Barbed Wire is a brilliant, illuminating history and wonderfully readable.
--Alex Kershaw, Author of The Bedford Boys and his recently released The First Wave

The age-old constant involved in territorial expansion or as a result of war has been the inescapable question of what to do with the enemy or vanquished peoples. From the Roman model of assimilation, through the Khans' formation of vassal states, to the ultimate in control of segments of the population: extermination or ethnic cleansing, as practiced by the Nazis and, later, the Khmer Rouge, and even now by China's treatment of the Uighurs, confronting that question is unavoidable and is of utmost importance to the victor.

Behind Barbed Wire presents a scholarly examination of some of the darkest passages of the modern world vis the treatment of fellow citizens and foreign adversaries alike, and brings a fresh view of how imperialist power and enforcement of draconian state policies related to societal and national policy directives stain the history of nation-states. This definitive treatment of the issue presents an authoritative and clearly-defined overview, from Spain's crushing system of Reconcentrados in Cuba, US operations in the Philippines, to the early immoral treatment of the native American population by the United States, descending through the European colonial powers' excesses in Africa, and culminating in the Nazi holocaust and the Japanese inhumanity to its captives and subjugated peoples during the WWII era.

The author has extensively researched, analyzed and articulated the causes, innate racism, exploitation and imprisonment and brutal treatment of native, dissident and defeated populations. This book is an important source for those interested in historical precedent as applied to modern and emerging international conflict.

--William S. McPeak, Jr., Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret.

Deborah Lindsay's Behind the Barbed Wire is an important contribution to the scholarship on the Third Reich and the Holocaust. It is an essential text for anyone seeking to understand the complexity of the concentration camp system and the extreme measures that Nazi Germany employed in their effort to create a superior racial state.
--Dr. Catherine Lewis Executive Director, Museum of History and Holocaust Education Kennesaw State University

About the Author

Ms. Lindsay graduated summa cum laude with a degree in military history and serves on various boards including the National WWII Museum, the Museum of History and Holocaust Education, the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and America's National Churchill Museum (where she is a Churchill Fellow). She lives in the Atlanta area with her two Basset Hounds.