Majdanek Concentration Camp

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August 8th 2009
Published: August 10th 2009
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Camp EntranceCamp EntranceCamp Entrance

The front entrance to the concentration camp.
One weekend, several of the students in our program made a trip to Majdanek Concentration Camp outside of Lublin. Majdanek was one of the very worst of the concentration and death camps set up by the Nazis during World War II. It stands on the outskirts of Lublin, which was meant to be one of the administrative centers of the Nazi regime after the war. This camp is strange in that it is near a major city, not in a more secluded part of Poland like Auschwitz. The camp was established in 1941, initially as a prisoner of war camp. Although the camp was intended to hold nearly 250,000 prisoners, a disease outbreak killed off all of the initial forced labor, and as a consequence, the camp remained partially uncompleted throughout they war. Nevertheless, it held about 50,000 prisoners, most of which ended up being Jews. A morbid, yet unique characteristic of the Majdanek camp is that it used all of the major methods for killing prisoners that the Nazis would employ throughout the war. Early on, prisoners were gassed with carbon monoxide, which was a very slow process. Later, xyclon B gas was used which caused very quick, violent deaths.
Majdanek MonumentMajdanek MonumentMajdanek Monument

The major monument at the camp dedicated to the 80 thousand people who died as prisoners there.
In November of 1943, nearly 19,000 prisoners were shot in a single day and then thrown into large trenches that had been dug. By the end of World War II, around 80,000 prisoners had been killed at the Majdanek concentration camp. Visiting the camp was a very moving experience, much like when I visited Auschwitz. Majdanek is perhaps more impactful because there is more left of the camp. One entire barrack is filled with crates of shoes, left from prisoners who were killed. Majdanek was the site of a large sorting facility which managed the personal belongings of all many prisoners of the camp and other camps as well. Also at Majdanek is an example of one of the crematoriums that worked to dispose of the bodies of prisoners. After the war, it was discovered that the ashes of prisoners was scattered over the entire grounds of the camp. These ashes were collected after the war and placed in a large mausoleum which is located at one end of the camp. Like visiting Auschwitz, my visit to Majdanek was quite powerful. While I found it very interesting, I can't say that I would like to ever return.

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


Selection SquareSelection Square
Selection Square

This is the location were prisoners were sorted immediately after arriving at the camp. Most sick, elderly, and disabled prisoners didn't make it much farther than this.
Shower RoomShower Room
Shower Room

This was one of the main shower rooms where prisoners were disinfencted in the large tubs in the background and then showered. The water was alternated between extreme hot and cold to torment the prisoners.
Camp BarrackCamp Barrack
Camp Barrack

One of the camp barracks.

Some of the original bunks in inmate barracks. There were usually three people per bed.
Guard CoverGuard Cover
Guard Cover

One of the guard covers used at points throughout the camp. Guards stood inside while it rained.
Nazi UniformsNazi Uniforms
Nazi Uniforms

Examples of the original Nazi guard and officer uniforms from the camp. The uniforms are oddly striking, and were most certainly very intimidating during camp operation.
Inmate UniformsInmate Uniforms
Inmate Uniforms

Here are some of the original camp uniforms worn by prisoners. As in other concentration camps, various symbols were used to mark different classes of prisoners.
Gas ChamberGas Chamber
Gas Chamber

Here is one of the original gas chambers at Majdanek concentration camp. Both carbon monoxide and Xyclon B gas was used to kill inmates.
Dissection RoomDissection Room
Dissection Room

This was a room used for inmate autopsies and other procedures.

Part of the original crematory at Majdanek. It stood at one corner of the camp.

Some of the camps crematory ovens that were used for burning bodies of inmates.

These were some of the large trenches dug by inmates before they were shot and thrown into them.

One of the Majdanek barracks was completely filled with inmates' shoes. The shoes are exposed to the elements and give off a very strong smell.
Memorial UrnMemorial Urn
Memorial Urn

After the war, it was discovered that cremated remains of inmates had been spread all across the camp grounds. This ash was collected and placed in a large memorial urn. This urn is about the size of a baseball infield, if that help provide some scope.

Me with the majority of Majdanek in the background.

1st October 2009

Thanks so much for these pictures they are truly amazing and you really helped me with a project. This really helps show what it must have been like.

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