Majdanek was a Nazi concentration camp, one of the six death camps built by in occupied Poland. Nowadays it is located within the city of Lublin in the eastern part of Poland.
At the beginning Majdanek was a forced labor camp, but in February 1943 it was converted into an extermination camp. More than 79,000 people died there during the 34 months of its operation. Among all the camps, Majdanek is the best preserved as it was captured almost intact. Nazis had too little time to destroy it before Soviet Army arrived there in July 22, 1944.
Majdanek Concentration Camp is situated four kilometers from the city center of Lublin. There are no trees around the camp, so it can be seen from all sides. There were no security zone, nor natural protection like: river, forest or mountains. There is a main road on the north of the camp – people driving past the camp, while it was in operation, had a completely unobstructed view, being able to see the tall brick chimney of the crematorium wafting smoke from the top of a slope not far away, and the gas chamber building which is very close to the street.
The first Jewish prisoners of Majdanek Death Camp were from Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. Jews from other European countries were also sent to Majdanek, but most of the prisoners were from the Lublin region and the ghettos of Warsaw and Bialystok. Non-Jewish prisoners were also admitted. At first death was induced by carbon monoxide asphyxiation, but later hydrocyanic, or prussic, acid fumes were used following successful tests at Belzec.
In October 2005, four Majdanek survivors returned to the camp and helped archaeologists to find about 50 objects which had been buried by inmates, including watches, earrings, and wedding rings. It is said to be the largest reported recovery of valuables in a death camp to date.
The camp today occupies about half of its original space. It is clearly visible to many inhabitants of the Lublin’s high-rises.