Cultural: Majdanek - a Nazi concentration camp

On Friday we visited Majdanek, a concentration camp set up by the Nazi party near Lublin, a town about 2 hours from our house.

I'm glad that they didn't completely tear it down after the war as it is a sobering reality check to everyone who visits.  They say, "History repeats itself."   I'm sure that they hope if they leave evidence of such a travesty, that history won't repeat itself.

Let me take you an abbreviated tour of the place. We were there for a couple of hours --almost no one else was around.

As we drove up, this is what we saw.  

After we went into the visitor's center, bought a little information booklet and took a look inside the building, we went on to the camp itself.  As we drove up to where you can park, this is what you see.

The first place we visited was the washing area and gas chambers.

They have these little signs all over the camp in three languages - Polish, English and Hebrew.  Each year many Jewish people come to Poland to visit these camps. This particular fact caught my attention since it referred to making felt from the hair that was taken from the prisoners.

They have these little signs all over the camp in three languages - Polish, English and Hebrew.  Each year many Jewish people come to Poland to visit these camps.

This particular fact caught my attention since it referred to making felt from the hair that was taken from the prisoners.

This is the shower room. Their clothes were removed and sent to the showers first of all. This is the men's showers. The ladies' is on the other side. 

Leftover cylinders of the gas they used

In this area, the placards on the wall say that they used the gas first to clean the clothes - the blue residue on the walls is evidence of the gas.

The actual gas chambers. They had shorter ceilings. They put people in here, turned on the gas, and within 5 minutes they were dead.

This row of buildings used to house people  - it is now an exhibition area.

Inside:

A model of the camp.  Thankfully the war ended before they had a chance to build it to its planned size - it was planned to hold 150,000 people.

A Jewish ration card.  

After we left those exhibitions, we walked on over to another building where they have some interactive displays - including testimonials and memories from survivors.  Here's a close up of a bunk.

Another building was full of only shoes.

 

 

No words.

 

 

Off in another direction were more bunkhouses.

A better idea of how crowded it was in the bunkhouse:

Then we walked up to the crematoria.

This is the view of the crematoria

This is where they washed the bodies after they were gassed or shot and examined them for gold and other valuables. They kept all the gold from the teeth and anywhere else they found it, and used it to pay for all this.

The furnaces - the side where they put the bodies

From the other end

This is the end where someone had to feed the fires.

Close up of the furnace

They built a memorial just to hold the ashes.  It says, "Our fate -- for you a warning".

A close up of the ashes. If you look closely you can see bone in it.

In the middle of winter, it is especially bleak! 

May we never forget!

For me...it's especially sobering.  My grandfather on my mom's side was a German Jew - from Berlin.

Becky Petersen6 Comments