The Auschwitz concentration camp created in spring 1940 was the first German concentration camp built in the occupied Polish territory. Together with Majdanek and Stutthof it became one of the main places of deportations and annihilation of Poles.
Last year the members of Ancre Somme Association participated in the For Your Freedom & Ours Project and visited the German Majdanek Concentration and Extermination Camp in Poland.
The camp was built and operated by the SS on the outskirts of the city of Lublin during the German occupation of Poland in World War II.
Although initially purposed for forced labour rather than extermination, the camp was used to kill people on an industrial scale during Operation Reinhard, the German plan was to murder all Jews within their own General Government territory of Poland.
The camp operated from the 1st October 1941. It was captured nearly intact. 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.
During its almost three years of existence, some 150,000 persons from 28 countries and of 54 nationalities passed through Majdanek.
Of the more than 2,000,000 Jewish people killed in the course of Operation Reinhard, some 60,000 Jews (56,000 known by name) were most certainly exterminated at Majdanek, amongst its almost 80,000 victims accounted for, altogether. Of these, some 60 percent died of starvation, torture, or disease, and some 40 percent were murdered by firing squad or in the gas chambers.
In July 1969, on the 25th anniversary of its liberation, 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.
In 1939, 43,000 of Lublin’s 122,000 strong population were Jewish. Sadly today the Jewish community in the City of Lublin stands at approximately 300.
Today we remember them.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John: 15:13a).
Author: Lexi Davidson
Pictures: Lexi Davidson, Twitter @AviBenlolo, @MajdenekMuseum
Link to the Majdanek Museum.