Encyclopedia

Majdanek

one of the 6 extermination camps, it was the only death camp located near a major city in a suburb of Lublin.

The camp covered 667 acres, had a double barbed wire electrified fence and 19 watchtowers. There were 7 gas chambers, a crematorium and 2 gallows. Nearly 500,000 people passed through the camp; of those, 360,000 perished, most from the harsh conditions at the camp, a minority were gassed.

In July 1944 the camp was abandoned; the staff destroyed documents and set fire to the buildings but they failed to destroy the gas chambers and most prisoner's barracks.

Immediately after the camp's liberation by the Soviet Army townspeople from Lublin gathered several tons of human ash into a great pile near the crematorium. The camp was designated a national museum. Wiktor Tolkin designed a mausoleum which stands next to the gas chamber-crematorium complex. Inside of a huge marble bowl open to the elements, protected by a dome top supported by 3 pillars, visitors gaze on a black mound of bone-flecked ash. Majdanek is one of the best preserved camps and its exhibits are a chilling reminder of its lethal history.


Sources: Encyclopedia of the Holocaust; Young, The Texture of Memory.



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