Camp Determination was a Freedom Party extermination camp located near Snyder, Texas. Unlike the previous state correction department camps or the Freedom Party concentration camps, Determination was specifically designed by Standard Leader Jefferson Pinkard of the Freedom Party Guards for the purpose of destroying whole groups of people.
Description[edit | edit source]
Camp Determination was built in a secluded area in the middle of the vast West Texan prairie, with a rail spur leading away from the main east-west line to Abilene and beyond. Built from scratch by labor-gangs of black prisoners under white supervision, Determination had over a hundred barrack-halls stretching for several thousand yards. Surrounded by multiple lines of barbed wire and guard towers, escape from the camp was almost impossible, with every foot of land personally supervised by Pinkard himself.
Beyond the sight (and smell) of the camp lay enormous stretches of mass graves, serviced by a paved road. Suitably placed in an empty expanse of prairie, the camp was laid out alongside a rail spur which could ship in blacks from the east. The first trainloads of inmates arrived in April 1942 and began taking residence in the barracks. Prisoners were packed into boxcars and moved in by train. The prisoners had little room to breath, much less move, and were subject to dehydration in the sweltering car. Those prisoners who were not able to leave the train under their own power were shot immediately. The remainder were worked until they could do no more, all the while fed on minimal rations of food and water for continued survival.
Every time a new train arrived from the east, a corresponding barracks-hall of prisoners were led into gassing trucks and executed. Scores of gassing trucks carried barracks' load of blacks to their deaths toward mass graves hidden away from the camp; blacks in the camps were told that the "shipments" were taking the condemned to a medical facility. In this industrial-like method, massive numbers of blacks had their "populations reduced," while their fellow inmates not yet marked for destruction were none the wiser.
During a routine bug extermination of the guards' barracks, Pinkard came across the idea of using insecticide as a way to dispose of mass numbers of prisoners. With the help of Cullen Beauregard Slattery, Vice President of Cyclone Chemicals Company, Pinkard developed the concept of using permanent gas chambers (already used in various state prisons across the United States) to exterminate people. These gas chambers were officially designated as "fumigators" and "delousing stations" and were located on the perimeter of Determination.
History[edit | edit source]
Following the election of Jake Featherston's Freedom Party in 1933, Featherston immediately put into action a plan for killing every black man, woman, and child within the country's borders asserting that the Confederacy's defeat in the War and its continued problems could be traced to its betrayal by its black citizens. The plan was informal, growing organically as the various Freedom Party leaders experimented with efficiency. Initially, blacks were arrested as revolutionaries and interred in prison camps including Camp Dependable. The camps were then filled to beyond capacity, forcing the camp commandants to remove prisoners and summarily execute them by firing squad.
However, this proved inefficient, as the guards who made up the firing squads had a difficult time dealing with the horror of their actions. When Chick Blades, a guard at Camp Dependable committed suicide by gassing himself in his car, camp commandant Jefferson Pinkard adopted the use of gas to carry out multiple executions of the camp population by herding them into trucks and using the truck's redirected carbon monoxide exhaust to suffocate captive blacks in the sealed cargo bed. Pleased with Pinkard's success, Featherston granted him command of a new camp, Camp Determination.
In May 1942, Pinkard was instructed by Attorney General Ferdinand Koenig to make room for a women-and-children's camp, nicknamed Camp Undecided, after the Justice Department decided to extend the genocide to women and children. This camp was built from scratch on the opposite side of the rail spur and was serviced by female Freedom Party Guards.
The first "bathhouse" went into operation in August 1942, with the murder of 100 blacks (far less than the maximum room for a thousand inmates) personally witnessed by Pinkard, Koenig and other Justice Department and Freedom Party Guard leaders. The bathhouses, gassing trucks, and mental strain of the FPGs were put to the test when, in a fit of rage, Featherston sent the entire black population of Jackson, Mississippi to be gassed in October 1942. In less than a week, Pinkard and his crew murdered 30,000 blacks -- the victims being marched straight to their deaths as soon as each train was unloaded. However, this created a large strain on the gas chambers and gassing trucks along with the Confederacy's railroad infrastructure, which did nothing to ease complications at the front up in Pennsylvania, where soldiers had no idea about what was going on down south.
Trouble was on the horizon for Pinkard and his camp. General Abner Dowling's Eleventh Army was advancing on Lubbock, Texas, the linchpin of the Confederate defenses in the west, finally capturing the city in the spring of 1943 and re-establishing the state of Houston. Soon after the capture of Lubbock, the camp and the nearby town of Snyder (home to Pinkard's family and several of the Guardsmen) came under constant aerial assault, while the rail line to Abilene was continuously put out of action, forcing shipments to the camp to halt.
Pinkard and Koenig argued over how to solve the problem before Featherston finally ordered Pinkard to begin construction on a new camp in eastern Texas. The Guards and records were sent ahead to the new Camp Humble, just north of the city of Houston, while the gas chambers were blown up. Meanwhile, Dowling had learned about the existence of the extermination camp. Though he realized that capturing the camp would be good propaganda for the U.S. war-effort, Dowling wanted to capture it for humanitarian reasons. Dowling, like most citizens of the U.S., was generally indifferent to the plight of blacks on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. However, concrete evidence of the Population Reduction galvanized him, and he made capture of the camp his primary goal in Texas.
General Dowling finally captured the smoking ruins of Determination in October 1943. He made a point of forcing the prominent citizens of Snyder to take a tour of the camp and the mass graves just outside to show them . Horrified by having discovered what their government had being doing in secret, many of them later committed suicide. While Dowling and the 11th Army displayed the atrocities and mass graves of Determination to the world, Humble received its first shipment of prisoners and prepared its newly-constructed crematoria for the bodies of its victims.