Majdanek Concentration Camp

Lublin, Poland

Majdanek, or KL Lublin, was a German concentration and extermination camp on the outskirts of the city of Lublin during the German occupation of Poland in World War II. Although initially purposed for forced labor rather than extermination, the camp was used to kill people on an industrial scale during Operation Reinhard, the German plan to murder all Jews within their own General Government territory of Poland. The camp, which operated from October 1, 1941, until July 22, 1944, was captured nearly intact, because the rapid advance of the Soviet Red Army during Operation Bagration prevented the SS from destroying most of its infrastructure, and the inept Deputy Camp Commandant Anton Thernes failed in his task of removing incriminating evidence of war crimes. Therefore, Majdanek became the first concentration camp discovered by Allied forces. Majdanek remains the best preserved Nazi concentration camp of the Holocaust.

Unlike other similar camps in Nazi-occupied Poland, Majdanek was not in a remote rural location away from population centres. The proximity led the camp to be named Majdanek by local people in 1941 'little Majdan' because it was adjacent to the suburb of Majdan Tatarski in Lublin.

The official estimate of dead prisoners in Majdanek is 78,000 victims, including 59,000 Jews. 

After the capture of the camp by the Soviet Army, the NKVD retained the ready-made facility as a prison for soldiers of the Armia Krajowa (Home Army resistance) loyal to the Polish Government-in-Exile and the Narodowe Siły Zbrojne (National Armed Forces) opposed to both German and Soviet occupation. The NKVD like the SS before them used the same facilities to imprison and torture Polish patriots.

Today

In July 1969 a large monument designed by Wiktor Tołkin was constructed at the site. It consists of two parts: a large gate monument at the camp's entrance and a large mausoleum holding ashes of the victims at its opposite end.

The camp today occupies about half of its original 2.7 km2, and is mostly bare. A fire in August 2010 destroyed one of the wooden buildings that was being used as a museum to house seven thousand pairs of prisoners' shoes. The city of Lublin has tripled in size since the end of World War II, and even the main camp is today within the boundaries of the city of Lublin. It is clearly visible to many inhabitants of the city's high-rises, a fact that many visitors remark upon. The gardens of houses and flats border on and overlook the camp.

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Founded: 1941
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User Reviews

Piotr Tokarski (7 months ago)
History in living form. You have to see to understand.
Alfonso Gianluca Gucciardo (Performing Arts MD) (11 months ago)
Terrifying place. Any word of comment would be foolish and wasted. Our guide didn't want to accompany us. : he told me. How to blame her? Then, seeing the good intentions of our heart, he guided us in almost total silence in this hellish place.
liz dawson (2 years ago)
Somber
Bartek Jura (2 years ago)
Too many things closed at once
Jade Sullivan (2 years ago)
A lot of information boards around to fully understand what you are visiting. Quite a few school groups visiting and making a lot of noise.
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