Majdanek concentration camp

The concentration camp Majdanek (in German : Konzentrationslager Majdanek ) was a death camp built by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland by the Germans to 4 km from the city of Lublin , near the border with Ukraine . That proximity made the Germans do not have time to destroy the camp in retreat, so it is preserved as it was at the time of World War II .


The camp was created in October 1941 by express orders of the commander of the SS , Heinrich Himmler , to receive prisoners of war Poles , under the supervision of the SS and commanded by Karl Otto Koch and was transformed into a concentration camp in February Of 1943 for all types of prisoners.

Unlike other German concentration camps, it was not hidden in any remote place in the middle of forests nor was it surrounded by exclusion zones, remaining in sight of the civilian population of Lublin. Its name derives from a district of the city called Majdan Tatarski and was given by the local inhabitants. Initially it was called in German Konzentrationslager Lublin (Concentration Camp of Lublin).

At the outset of operations, Majdanek housed about 50,000 prisoners, and was extended in 1942 to a capacity of up to 250,000, primarily intended to work as slaves in ammunition production and arms manufacturing. Between April of that year until his release on 24 of July of 1944 , the place was transformed into extermination camp , with the introduction of gas chambers and crematoria . It was one of only two German camps that used the Zyklon B – the other was Auschwitz – as exterminating gas, along with carbon monoxide , which was also used in executions, which were coordinated by SS Oberscharführer Eric Muhsfeldt who worked In both extermination camps .

With the arrival of the Red Army the 24 of July of 1944 , the camp was evacuated, being the crematorium the only place that the Nazis managed to destroy before the escape, thanks to the speed of advance of the liberating troops, transforming Majdanek in The best preserved of the post- war Holocaust camps. About 1,000 detainees were evacuated on a death march, but the Soviets still found thousands of other prisoners, mostly prisoners of war, showing evidence of the crimes committed there by the Nazis.

As soon as the Soviets took the field, they released the prisoners of the Nazis and transformed it into a field of the NKVD , the Soviet secret service, where they interned thousands of members of the Polish resistance, of groups like Armia Krajowa (AK) And Narodowe Siły Zbrojne (NSZ). [ Citation needed ]

Due to lack of records, the death toll in Majdanek has always been more difficult to calculate than that of other death camps. The Soviets initially estimated the number of deaths, claiming on July 29, 1944, that there were no fewer than 400,000 Jewish victims and 1,500,000 victims of different nationalities, 1 during the total period of operation, based on the ability of the Crematoria. Other sources estimate that about 80 000 Jewish victims and 200 000 non-Jews were killed. 2

In October 2005 , four survivors of the camp returned to the place where they were imprisoned in the past accompanied by archaeologists; They helped them locate in the field more than 50 objects that had buried the prisoners; These objects included alliances , earrings , watches and coins .

Nazi commanders of concentration camp

  1. Karl Otto Koch (September 1941 to July 1942)
  2. Max Koegel (August 1942 to October 1942)
  3. Hermann Florstedt (October 1942 to September 1943)
  4. Martin Weiss (September 1943 to May 1944)
  5. Arthur Liebehenschel (May 1944 – July 22, 1944)

In October 1942, several women of the SS troops arrived from the Ravensbrück concentration camp , in Germany , where they had been trained. Among them were Elsa Erich , Hermine Braunsteiner , Hildegard Lächert and Rosy Suess . When the Soviets released Majdanek, they found evidence of the relentless performance of women supervisors.


  1. Back to top↑ “Inside a Nazi Death Camp, 1944” EyeWitness to History, (2004).
  2. Back to top↑ Majdanek Museum