Ashes underneath a huge dome at the Majdanek Memorial site Photo credit: Simon Robertson
I am on Bradley Smith’s mailing list, and today I got a message from him directing me to his latest article on the internet.
In his latest article, Bradley writes about Rafi Farber and an article which Mr. Farber wrote.
In answer to the article, Bradley wrote in an e-mail to Farber: “Interesting article [that you wrote] but … it appears that you believe the gas chamber stories. Perhaps I’m wrong.”
What’s wrong with Bradley! Of course Rafi Farber believes in the gas chambers at Majdanek.
Bradley published the e-mail answer from Mr. Farber, which you can read below:
[from] Rafi Farber
September 7, 2015 at 9:04 pm (Six minutes later)
Wow! I actually got a Holocaust denier to comment here! That’s a strange accomplishment. I am building bridges I’m not sure I even want built. Surely those who disagree with me will cite this as evidence that I have “gone too far”. Yes Bradley Smith. I “believe the gas-chamber stories”. I am a Jew whose extended family was murdered in the gas chambers. And I physically visited the gas chambers and saw the 17-ton pile of human ash at Majdanek filled with my family who died there in the gas chambers that I was physically in. Those Jews who are reading this who want to know where I’m drawing the line, it’s here. This guy is on the other side. Do not comment here again, Mr. Smith.
I am sorry that I have to disagree with Rafi Farber and cause him more pain.
The ashes of his family are not in the 17-ton pile of human ashes at Majdanek — unless he has family members who were fighting as illegal combatants, aka resistance fighters, in World War II.
My photo of the bunk beds in the barracks at Majdanek
Here is the real story behind the ashes under the dome at Majdanek:
A gigantic, circular Mausoleum at the Majdanek Memorial Site [shown in the photo at the top of this page] stands at the end of the former “black path” to the crematorium, a walkway that is now called the Road of Homage in English.
The structure was designed by architect and sculptor Wiktor Tolkin, the same man who designed the Monument of Struggle and Martyrdom at the other end of the walkway, near the street.
The dome of the Mausoleum 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.”
Under the dome is a huge circular urn, shaped like a saucer, which contains the ashes of some of the victims who died at Majdanek.
Before visiting Majdanek, I had heard about the ashes and wondered what kept them from blowing away in the wind. The answer is that the 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 material under the dome looks like compacted dirt; it is the color of adobe. There are a few bone fragments visible. To the left, in front of the steps, are four containers to hold eternal flames for special ceremonies.
Also to the left, as you face the dome, is the very inappropriate location of the toilets, which are underground but have air vents sticking up, that look like some weird sculpture. The first thing that the tour guides explain to Americans is the toilet etiquette in Poland.
In many places, including the camp at Majdanek, one must pay an attendant on duty to use the toilets. Bring your own toilet paper because there is usually none available, even though the charges are supposed to pay for the cost of the paper.
The toilets are for both sexes and there is no door on the men’s facility. When I visited the camp, the toilets were unbelievably filthy, just like at the Auschwitz II camp at Birkenau.
The photograph at the top of this page shows the Mausoleum. To the right of it is located the reconstructed crematorium building. Standing on this spot, you have a panoramic view of the camp below you.
Behind the Mausoleum are new modern apartment houses, their balconies painted red, yellow and blue, resembling buildings made with children’s colorful building blocks.
As you are standing in front of the Mausoleum facing the camp area, to the left there are more apartment buildings in the city of Lublin. To the right, as you face the camp area, is Lublin’s main Catholic cemetery which borders the camp; this cemetery was being used when the concentration camp was in operation. There are noisy black crows flying overhead, which the tour guide says are always present here, as if to give further warning to visitors.
According to the camp 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 Majdanek 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 also feared that their plans to exterminate the Jews were being thwarted by the cooperation of the camp resistance movement at Majdanek with the Polish underground organizations fighting as partisans outside the camp.
The Memorial Site 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.
Along with the Polish civilian partisans and the Jewish partisans hiding in the forests, there were also escaped Russian Prisoners of War, who would sometimes shoot the Jewish partisans.
Although Poland had been conquered, within a month after the country was invaded, by the joint effort of the Germans and the Russians, guerrilla warfare continued in Poland until the Germans finally surrendered to the Allies in May 1945.
According to a book entitled The forgotten Holocaust: the Poles under German Occupation, written by Richard Lucas, the Polish resistance fighters were responsible for 6,930 damaged train engines, 732 derailed trains, 979 destroyed train cars, 38 bridges blown up, 68 aircraft destroyed, 15 factories burned down, 4,623 military vehicles destroyed, 25,125 acts of sabotage and 5,733 attacks on German troops.
The bodies of the victims of the massacre at Majdanek were burned near the ditches on pyres formed from old truck chassis, and the ashes were thrown onto the compost pile behind the clothing warehouse barracks, which now hold the tourist exhibits. It is these ashes of the massacre victims which have now been given a place of honor in the Mausoleum.
Resistance fighters marching to their deaths at the Majdanek camp on “bloody Wednesday”, November 3, 1943