In the comments section of my blog, a reader put up a photo which showed the remains of bodies that had been burned. The photo that was put up on my blog showed only the bottom portion of the photograph above.
The burned bodies in the photo above were pulled out of the ovens by the Soviet soldiers who liberated the Majdanek camp after the Germans had left. The Soviets claimed that the Germans had burned prisoners alive in the ovens.
The 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 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, 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 ample evidence of the Nazi crimes.
In another room of the crematorium building is the concrete dissection table, on which the bodies were examined for valuables hidden in body cavities, according to the tour guide. It was here also that the gold teeth were removed from the victims after they were gassed.
After the camp was liberated, bones of the cremated victims were gathered and put on display in a glass case, according to accounts written by visitors to Majdanek. I didn’t see any glass case, but there was a large closed casket on display in the crematorium. The casket was covered with funeral wreaths, bouquets of flowers and candles left by visitors.
The tour guide pointed out a new memorial plaque, placed at the crematorium in 1998, which had upgraded the percentage of Jewish victims in the Majdanek camp to 48%. The former number was 41%, which is mentioned in the guidebook. During the Communist regime in Poland, the suffering of the Jews was downgraded and the martyrdom of the Poles was emphasized. Now that is slowing changing to reflect the greater suffering by the Jews. Of the remaining victims, 31% were Polish political prisoners, 16% were POWs from the USSR and 5% were POWs or political prisoners from 26 other countries, according to the Museum booklet. Although most of the prisoners were either Jewish or Christian, there were also a few political prisoners in the camp who were Muslims or Buddhists, according to the Museum booklet.