Facts for kids: Who invented concentration camps?

concentration camps

Over 30,000 people allegedly died in camps during the Second Boer War.

Despite what you might have read or heard, the Nazis didn’t invent the concentration camp. They did something much worse. During World War Two, Nazi Germany operated extermination camps. The camps had one objective; to kill as many enemies of the German nation as possible. Enemies included political opponents, Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and communists.

Concentration camps, on the other hand, have a longer history. With the goal of controlling populations of people by locking them up in a confined area, evidence suggests people were doing this to each other in ancient Babylon more than 3500 years ago.

In modern times, concentration camps have been used by many governments to maintain their power. In 1838 the indigenous Cherokee population were locked up by the administration of United States President Van Buren. The Spanish established camps in Cuba as part of their “Reconcentrado” policy during the Spanish-Cuban War of the late nineteenth century. The British locked up families of South African men during the Second Boer War in South Africa to stop the families supporting the Boers. In the 1920s the Soviets set up work camps in Siberia to quash any opposition to the communist government. The United States government locked up Japanese Americans during World War Two despite there being no confirmed threat of attack.

Short answer: It’s hard to say who specifically invented the concentration camp but the term itself became popularised as a result of Britain’s policies during the 1899-1902 Second Boer War.

Facts for kids: Were nuclear weapons tested in space?

nuclear weapons tested in space

The Starfish Prime test could be seen from Honolulu well over 1000km away.

During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union made a habit of testing their nuclear weapons on land, sea, in the air and under the ground. While these tests were justified as having scientific purpose, the two nations benefitted from the propaganda value of testing bombs and missiles that could obliterate their enemies (ie. each other).

One of the more bizarre chapters of this rivalry was that of nuclear weapons tested in space. Once the United States and Soviet Union proved they could fire nuclear missiles at each other from thousands of kilometres away, they found themselves having to experiment with ways of shooting their enemies’ missiles down. Precision guidance systems didn’t exist, so the solution was to simply use massive explosions to knock the missiles out of the game.

Between 1958 and 1962, there were 17 nuclear tests ranging from an altitude of 22.7 kilometres (14.1 miles) to 540 kilometres (335.5 miles) above the Earth. The largest explosion was that of the Starfish Prime test. A W49 thermonuclear warhead detonated at an altitude of 400 kilometres (250 miles) with a force of 1.4 megatons of TNT. The result was the creation of an artificial radiation belt in space which destroyed three satellites, while the electromagnetic pulse of the explosion damaged electronic systems over a thousand kilometres away.

The Soviets experienced similar problems with their space testing program, with power and communcations systems being crippled.

Consequently, the tests ended. They worked too effectively and posed a threat to manned space exploration.

Short answer: Nuclear weapon tests in space were conducted in the 1950s and 1960s, but were discontinued because they caused too much damage.

Facts for kids: Who has the biggest army in the world?

China has the biggest army

China’s reserve air force in training.

Being the biggest army in world doesn’t mean the best army in the world. Factors such as leadership, command and communications, morale, logistics, quality of weaponry, quality of training, and the distinction between professional and conscripted soldiers have to be taken into account. These factors mean a lot.

Take the first Gulf War, for instance. On paper the Iraqi Army looked formidable. It had several hundred thousand soldiers in its ranks, as well as a few thousand tanks and armoured personnel carriers. But it was totally crap when it came to the crunch of battle. Up against the USA and UK it was a bloodbath of almost biblical proportions. The poor buggers were generally hopeless and had no interest in fighting. The land war was over in about 100 hours.

For the sake of convenience, we’re looking at the number of active army soldiers ready to fight, as well as adding personnel from the navy, air force, special operations, and marines.

The biggest army in the world belongs to China. As of early 2014, China has approximately 2,285,000 soldiers on active duty. If this army was a nation it would be ranked 141st in size, making it more populous than than Qatar, Slovenia or Iceland.

Short answer: China has the biggest army in the world and, no, they don’t all look alike. In contrast the USA has the most powerful army in the world and will fight anyone as long as there is oil involved. Even your mum.