Scrapbookpages Blog

June 29, 2017

the mass extermination of Jews by means of gas — the primary activity at the Majdanek death camp

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized, World War II — furtherglory @ 3:28 pm

 

1946 postage stamp in honor of Majdanek camp

The title of this blog post is a quote from this news article, which mentions the postage stamp shown above:

https://www.ijn.com/poland-one-year-truth/

Here is the full quote from the news article:

Begin quote

The treatment of the Holocaust in post-war Eastern Europe was complicated. Communist governments framed the Holocaust in terms of fascism and anti-fascism, and divorced themselves from any homegrown culpability in the anti-Semitism and mass killings. Commemorations at concentration camps found in the Soviet zone focused on communists killed by the Nazis and the struggle against fascism, and made little mention of the mass extermination of Jews by means of gas — the primary activity at the Majdanek death camp.

End quote from news article

The Majdanek concentration camp, which is located in the Polish city of Lubin, was in operation from October 1, 1941 to July 23, 1944 when it was liberated by soldiers of the Soviet Union.

According to the museum guidebook, the camp was initially called the Concentration Camp at Lublin (Konzentrationslager Lublin); then the name was changed to Prisoner of War Camp at Lublin (Kriegsgefangenenlager der Waffen-SS Lublin), but in Feb. 1943, the name reverted back to Concentration Camp. Throughout its existence, Majdanek received transports of Prisoners of War, including a few Americans.

Although the first prisoners at Majdanek were Russian Prisoners of War, who were transferred from a barbed wire enclosure at Chelm, the camp soon became a detention center for Jews after the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” was planned at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942.

Mass transports of Jews began arriving at the Majdanek camp, beginning in April 1942, during the same time period that the Auschwitz II camp, which was originally a POW camp for Soviet soldiers, was being converted to an extermination camp for Jews.

The headquarters for Operation Reinhard, which was set up after the Wannsee Conference, was in Lublin, near the Majdanek camp. The clothing that was confiscated from the prisoners who were sent to the three Operation Reinard camps (Treblinka, Sobibor, and Belzec) was brought to Majdanek to be disinfected with a poison gas called Zyklon-B. The same gas was allegedly used in homicidal gas chambers at Majdanek to murder thousands of Jews.

In sharp contrast to the extermination camp at Treblinka, which is in a wooded area as remote as Ted Kaczynkski’s Montana cabin, the Majdanek concentration camp is situated in a major urban area, four kilometers from the city center of Lublin, and can be easily reached by trolley car. The location of the Majdanek camp is in an area of rolling terrain and can be seen from all sides; it could not be more public or accessible.

The Majdanek concentration camp is located in an entirely open area with no ten-foot wall around it to hide the activities inside the camp, as at Dachau. There was no security zone established around the Majdanek camp, as at Birkenau, and there is no natural protection, such as a river or a forest, as at Treblinka.

Besides being bounded on the north by a busy main road, the camp was bounded on the south by two small villages named Abramowic and Dziesiata. People driving past the camp, while it was in operation, had a completely unobstructed view, being able to see the tall brick chimney of the crematorium wafting smoke from the top of a slope not far away, and the gas chamber building which is only a few yards from a busy street.

Just as at the Auschwitz main camp, the first Jewish prisoners that were sent to Majdanek were 10,000 young men from Slovakia, followed by transports from the area that is now the Czech Republic. Jews from Austria, Germany, France and Holland were also sent to Majdanek, but from mid 1942 until mid 1943, most of the Jews sent to the camp were from the Lublin region and the ghettos of Warsaw and Bialystok.

According to a Museum booklet, “The transports of Jews from the General Government were in direct connection with Action Reinhard whose aim was mass extermination of Jews and plunder of Jewish property. The headquarters of this action, managed by O. Globocnik, was in Lublin.” The Action Reinhard camps were at Sobibor, Belzec and Treblinka, all on the border of Soviet-occupied Poland and the General Government, which was the name given to central Poland by the Nazis. Lublin is the easternmost large city in Poland.

The population of Lublin has tripled since the end of World War II to its present total of 350,000, and the former Majdanek concentration camp is now within the city limits, like a municipal park except that it is a ghastly eyesore. There are several modern high-rise apartment buildings overlooking the camp on two sides now, and on one side, right next to the camp, is a Roman Catholic cemetery which was there even when the camp was in operation. On the other side of the street, directly across from the former concentration camp, there is now a Polish military installation since this street is part of the main road into the Ukraine and Russia. During World War II, the street which borders the Majdanek concentration camp was the main route to the eastern front for the German army.

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The news article ends with this quote:

Begin quote

In 1946, [when the postage stamp, honoring the Majdanek camp, was printed] Poland was already under Soviet influence, but its communist government wasn’t formed until 1947. Perhaps that brief lag in time allowed the Poles to openly acknowledge what occurred on Polish soil in a way that wasn’t repeated for decades to come.

Shana Goldberg may be reached at shana@ijn.com

Copyright © 2017 by the Intermountain Jewish News

End quote

I went to visit the Majdanek camp several years ago. I was riding in a car, driven by my tour guide, when she suddenly said “Look over there; that’s the Majdanek camp.”  I was completely flabbergasted and could not speak.

Were the Nazis so stupid that they put a death camp on a busy highway where thousands of people driving by could see the Jews marching to the gas chambers? Apparently, they were.

Belzec, a camp where Jews were ordered to run through a tube that let into the gas chambers

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized — furtherglory @ 8:36 am

Today I am blogging about a news article which you can read in full at: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/06/28/vandal-smashes-holocaust-memorial-glass-but-survivors-spirit-remains-resolute/YuSqLke3WYoz5zRNxvEdyO/story.html

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

[Israel] Arbeiter, 92, has spent a lifetime telling their [Holocaust survivor] story, and his, recounting the October night in 1942 when they [the Jews] were herded into a marketplace in the Polish ghetto of Starachowice and sorted into two lines by German soldiers. He and two of his brothers were sent to a labor camp outside town. The rest of his family was loaded onto trains bound for Treblinka, where he believes they were murdered right away.

End quote

You can read about Treblinka on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Poland/Treblinka/introduction.html

The news article continues with this quote:

Begin quote

The tower at which Isaac threw that rock memorializes Belzec, a [concentration] camp in Southeastern Poland. There, beginning in 1942, German soldiers unloaded 20 packed freight cars at a time and ordered Jews to run through a tube that led directly into the gas chambers. Afterward, other prisoners were forced to bury the dead in mass graves, or to burn them. More than 400,000 Jews perished there.

End quote

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I I have a section on my website about Belzec: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Poland/Belzec/index.html

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Continue quote from news article:

We allow their lives to recede — to become abstract artifacts of history — at our own peril. As survivors leave us, and anti-Semitism regains more of a foothold than we might have dreamed possible, we need physical reminders more than ever.

End quote from news article