I am posting some recent photos of the Majdanek death camp, which were sent to me by José Ángel Lopez. Click on the photos to enlarge.
The photo above shows the front entrance into the reconstructed Majdanek crematorium where the bodies of dead prisoners were burned.
Majdanek is now located within the city limits of Lublin, a major city in Poland. When the camp was liberated by Soviet troops in July 1944, the first report of the deaths in the camp was 1.7 million. This was quickly downgraded to 1.5 million, which is the figure that was given by the Soviets at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal. The latest figures for Majdanek is 78,000 deaths including 59,000 Jewish deaths.
The photo above shows the rear of the reconstructed Majdanek crematorium.
The original Majdanek crematorium was burned down in 1944, allegedly by the Nazis. The old photo below shows the crematorium just after it was burned.
The old black and white photo above shows 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 Castle in Lublin and executed the day before liberation. Their charred remains are shown in the foreground in the photo.
In the background of the photo above are the brick ovens with iron doors which were not damaged in the fire. The main gas chamber building, which is located down the slope at the other end of the camp, was not burned, leaving behind evidence of the Nazi crimes.
The gigantic, circular Mausoleum at the Majdanek Memorial Site, which is shown in the photo above, stands at the end of the former “black path” to the crematorium, a walkway that is now called the Road of Homage in English. To the left, in front of the steps, are four containers to hold eternal flames for special ceremonies. The structure was designed by architect and sculptor Wiktor Tolkin.
Under the dome, shown in the photo above is a huge circular urn, shaped like a saucer, which contains the ashes of some of the victims at Majdanek. These ashes were recovered from a compost pile in the camp, where they had been mixed with dirt and garden refuse and composted in preparation for spreading on the vegetable garden in the camp.
The dome of the Mausoleum, as shown in the photo above, is pockmarked, as though it had suffered bomb damage in the war. The English translation of the inscription on the frieze of the dome reads “Let our fate be a warning to you.”
Just behind the Mausoleum pictured above, and a little to the right, is a small stone which commemorates the deaths of around 18,000 Jews on that spot on November 3, 1943, an event that was code-named by the Nazis with the cynical word “Erntefest” which means Harvest Festival in English. The camp inmates called this day “bloody Wednesday.” This was the largest mass execution carried out at any of the concentration camps in the history of the Holocaust. The victims were the last remnants of the Jewish population in the Lublin district.
According to the Majdanek guidebook, Heinrich Himmler ordered the liquidation of the Jews in the Lublin district after the insurrection on October 14, 1943 at Sobibor, one of the Operation Reinhard extermination camps on the Polish-Russian border, in which 300 Jews, led by a Jewish Russian Prisoner of War, escaped into the nearby woods. At this time, the three largest concentrations of Jews in Eastern Poland were at the camp at Majdanek and at the labor camp at Poniatowa, a tiny Polish village where 18,000 people were held, and at the Polish village of Trawniki where 10,000 Jews were imprisoned in a labor camp.
According to the guidebook, “In the autumn of 1943, the Nazi authorities were alarmed by the uprisings in the Warsaw and Bialystok ghettos, by the activity of the resistance movement in the camps and by the rebellions in the death camps at Sobibor and Treblinka.” Their greatest fear was that the Jewish prisoners at Lublin would start a rebellion that would result in their escape to the forests where they would join the Polish partisans who were fighting the German Army.
The Nazis were also worried about the camp resistance movement at Majdanek, where the Polish underground organizations were fighting as partisans outside the camp.
The Majdanek guidebook devotes a whole section to the activities of the camp resistance movement, which included activists from the Polish Home Army, and the main political parties: the Polish Socialist Party, the Peasant Party, the National Party, and the Polish Worker’s Party.
Note the buildings in the background of the photo above; these buildings are in the city of Lublin.
The two photos above appear to be original barracks buildings at Majdanek. The photo below was taken in the Majdanek museum which is in a wooden building, not far from the gas chamber building.
The photo above shows the round badges worn by the prisoners at Majdanek. This photo shows an exhibit in the Majdanek Museum.