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February 19, 2011

The history of the liberation of Majdanek, as taught by an American teacher

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 11:47 am

If you want to learn about the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, as taught by an American History teacher, you can go online and read about it here.

This quote tells about the liberation of Majdanek:

Soviet forces were the first to approach a major Nazi camp, reaching Majdanek near Lublin, Poland, in July 1944. Surprised by the rapid Soviet advance, the Germans attempted to hide the evidence of mass murder by demolishing the camp. Camp staff set fire to the large crematorium used to burn bodies of murdered prisoners, but in the hasty evacuation the gas chambers were left standing.

Note that the date for the liberation of Majdanek is given as July 1944, but not the precise day of the liberation.  Why is the day of the month important?  It is important because the “Soviet advance” had reached Lublin, the city where the Majdanek camp is located, on July 22nd and the camp was liberated on July 23, 1944 after a two-day battle for the city of Lublin.   The crematorium was burned on July 22, 1944, allegedly by the Germans, but the Soviets were also in Lublin that day.

Note that the Germans were “surprised” by the rapid advance of the Soviet Army and they had to make a “hasty evacuation.”

The “hasty evacuation” of Majdanek occurred on July 22nd, the day before the camp was liberated, when 1,000 prisoners were marched out of the camp.  But long before that, in anticipation of the arrival of Soviet troops, the Nazis had evacuated 15,000 prisoners in March and April 1944, transporting them westward by train to the Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen, Ravensbrück, Natzweiler, Mauthausen, and Plaszow camps, and the Lodz ghetto.  Russian soldiers who had defected and fought on the side of the Germans, had been brought to a “sick camp” at Majdanek after they were wounded; they had been left behind because they were crippled, or too sick to join the death march out of the camp.

Russian soldiers who had defected were left behind when the Germans abandoned the Majdanek camp

The Soviet army had been advancing toward the German-occupied section of Poland for at least a year, so why were the Germans surprised when Soviet troops reached Lublin?

Allegedly, the Germans took time out from the battle for the city of Lublin in order to burn only one building inside the camp — the crematorium.

The reconstructed crematorium at Majdanek Photo Credit: Simon Robertson

The online history lesson does not explain why the Germans decided to burn the crematorium instead of the gas chamber building when they  “attempted to hide the evidence of mass murder by demolishing the camp.”  As anyone can see, when visiting the camp today, the crematorium was the only building that was burned to “hide the evidence of mass murder.”  The crematorium was reconstructed after the war, allegedly according to the original blueprints, by the Soviets.

The ovens in the burned crematorium building at Majdanek

Bodies were laid out in front of the ovens before the crematorium building at Majdanek was burned

How do we know that the crematorium was burned by the Germans?  Soviet troops were in Lublin on the day before Majdanek was “liberated.”  Who had the motive, the means, and the opportunity to burn the crematorium on July 22, 1944?  Where is the evidence that the Germans burned the crematorium?

When I visited Lublin in 1998, I was taken there by a Polish private tour guide.  As we were driving down the highway, the first thing I saw in the city of Lublin was what looked like an old castle.  I remarked that I would like to see the old castle before we went to the concentration camp.  But the guide told me that the castle was not on the tour — I had to see the yeshiva first.  I didn’t even know, at that time, what a yeshiva was and why the yeshiva was so important.

After I returned from my trip to Poland I learned that the old castle had been used as a Gestapo prison during World War II.

The two old black and white photos above show the ruined crematorium as it looked when Russian soldiers arrived at the camp on July 23, 1944. The wooden crematorium building had allegedly been set on fire by the Nazis in order to burn the bodies of Polish political prisoners, who had been brought from the Gestapo prison at the old castle to the camp, the day before the camp was liberated, and executed in front of the ovens. The charred remains of Polish prisoners are shown in the old photos. The brick ovens with their iron doors were not damaged in the fire.

The gas chamber building at Majdanek, which was located at the other end of the camp, was not burned.  The gas chamber was very near a major road, which the Germans probably took as they abandoned the camp.  Why didn’t the Germans douse the wooden gas chamber building with gasoline and light a match to it on their way out of the camp on June 22nd, just after they had burned the wooden crematorium building?

What was so important, about killing the political prisoners in the Gestapo prison, that the Nazis left behind the gas chambers, as evidence of mass murder at Majdanek?  And why was the former Gestapo prison off limits to an American tourist?

The reconstructed crematorium, which is open to tourists, is located at the top of a long slope, behind the spot where the barracks in Field V once stood. This is a reconstruction of the second crematorium that was built in the camp, which was not in operation until the autumn of 1943, according to the Museum guidebook.  The Soviets have never released the original “blue prints” which they allegedly used to reconstruct the crematorium.

The “gas chamber” in the reconstructed crematorium at Majdanek is used by Holocaust deniers to prove that there were no gas chambers.  Visitors can see that there is a hole in the ceiling of the “gas chamber” that was allegedly used for pouring in the poison gas pellets, but there is a floor drain directly below the hole. The poison gas pellets would have instantly gone down the drain.

The door to the “gas chamber” in the crematorium is missing. A casting of the Majdanek gas chamber door is on display at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.  (This might be the actual door.)

800,000 pairs of shoes were found at Majdanek

The photo above is a still shot from the documentary film made by the Soviet Union after the camp was liberated.  I saw the documentary when I visited the Memorial Site. In the film, the narrator did not point out that Majdanek was a center for processing clothing taken from the Jews who were sent to the three Operation Reinhard camps at Treblinka, Belzec, and Sobibor. There was also a shoe repair shop at Majdanek where the prisoners worked on the boots of the German soldiers as well as the shoes taken from the Jews. When the camp was liberated these shoes were awaiting shipment by train to Germany where they were to be distributed to civilians in the German cities that had been bombed by the Allies. Some of the shoes from Majdanek are currently on display at the United States Holocaust Museum. The remainder are displayed at the Memorial Site in three warehouse buildings.

After liberating Majdanek in 1944, the Soviet Union announced that 1.5 million prisoners had died there.  This was the number of deaths that was entered into the Nurmberg IMT.  Today, visitors are told that there were 78,000 deaths at Majdanek, including 59,000 Jews.

There were allegedly four gas chamber rooms at Majdanek, including three in the building that was not burned and one in the crematorium.  Why were there so many gas chamber rooms at Majdanek if only 59,000 Jews were killed?

Propaganda films were shown in American theaters after the war

Documentary films taken by the Allies at the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps were shown in newsreels all over the world. In the photo above, the theater marquee says that a film has been held over: the Maidanek Nazi Death Factory “See SS guards executed.” Maidanek was the German name for Majdanek.

An article written by Dr. Michael Berenbaum, which you can read here, describes the gas chambers at Majdanek:

There are two gas chambers at Majdanek; the first one primitive, meant to murder a few. Simple, it has an entrance way, an undressing room, and then a small gas chamber with a motor next door and a sealed booth for the engineer who ran the diesel engine.

And then in the rear of the camp on top of the hill, the visitor sees the large gas chamber and crematoria, still intact, looking as if it is ready to go. The first gas chamber could kill a few people, one dozen or two. The second one could kill thousands and dispose of their bodies, leaving mounds of ashes.

Were there two camps called Majdanek?  The gas chambers that I saw in 1998 did not fit this description.  The gas chamber “in the rear of the camp on top of the hill” is not “large.”  It does not look as if it could kill thousands.  It is a reconstruction and it looks like a shower room with a floor drain.  If any Zyklon-B pellets were dropped into this gas chamber, they would have gone down the drain before anyone could have been killed.

The first gas chamber is the one that has an undressing room.  But there are three separate gas chamber rooms in the building, one that has an alcove that could be counted as a fourth room.  There is a “booth” in one of the rooms, but the booth is not “sealed.”  Dr. Berenbaum must have seen a different Majdanek camp than the one that I saw.

Dr. Berenbaum wrote this about the death statistics for Majdanek:

In a recent study by the director of the camp, Tomasz Kranz detailed the number of Jews deported to Majdanek and the number who were sent from Majdanek elsewhere, almost always to Aktion Reinhard camps where they were killed. According to the Memorial at Majdanek, some 74,000 Jews were deported to Majdanek and 15,000 Jews were deported from Majdanek to other death camps, leaving some 59,000 who were killed at Majdanek. Though the figures may be taken merely as a minimum since after 1942 camp officials ceased to record Jewish dead and in 1944 the records of the Majdanek camps were burnt just before its liberation.

If all the records were burned and no deaths were even recorded after 1942, why does the Majdanek Museum accept the new figure of 59,000 Jewish deaths?  Why not go with the original estimate by the Soviets that 1.5 million were killed, since there are no records to dispute this?


  1. These pictures of crematoria ovens raise more questions than give answers. The lowest cremation temperature is, not less than, 1400 F. It appears that the building, there were located is burned down completely. Probably, it was a wooden building. The question is: how a construction made out of wood could withstand the heat produced by four ovens at 1400 F each? The pictures do not suggest, that there was a large area between the crematoria ovens and the actual walls. The double side doors of the ovens might only prove that the flames cannot be contained and the more heat would go out to destroy the wooden walls. Quite a disappointing design for the supreme German engineering.
    There is a picture of 800, 000 pairs of shoes, (did they really count that junk)? Nowadays; it is being claimed that under 80,000 people were killed or died in Majdanek. How to account those 800,000 pairs of shoes? Does it mean that 80,000 were killed and the remaining 720,000 just got new shoes?
    The human skeletons on these pictures are clearly staged. And yes, it was absolutely possible for the soviet-jewish propaganda con-artists to do that. The “German Atrocities” must have some “proofs”. The future Allied atrocities needed to have some justifications.
    Could we see the pictures of Majdanek bakeries? Where they had been located and what happened to them?
    Did Germans blow them up? Or maybe we are looking at the pictures of Majdanek bakeries, disguised as crematoriums by the Soviets?
    How many inmates were incarcerated in Majdanek at any given time? If more than one thousand people at anytime; they must have their own bakery. Are those “crematoria” ovens, in reality, bakery ovens?

    Comment by Gasan — February 21, 2011 @ 8:18 pm

  2. Hello

    I’m a very, very big fan of scrapbookpages, love your work.

    Have you heard of Raymond Arthur Davies, a Canadian (sort of) independent journalist, based in Moscow during 1944?

    He claimed to have visited Majdanek on Aug 28, 1944. Proclaiming the 1.5m (inc 1m Jews) death toll at Majdanek in a telegram to the Canadian Jewish Congress & Jewish Eagle (a Canadian Yiddish newspaper) the following day.

    More details:

    Turns out not only was he in the pay of the Canadian Jewish Congress, he was also Jewish, real name Rudolph Shohan and a communist. He was sent to prison in Canada for fraud in 1954.

    Comment by Black Rabbit — February 20, 2011 @ 9:01 pm

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