The Majdanek camp was built on the south-east outskirts of Lublin. A small portion was located within the city limits , the rest covered the territory of the neighbouring villages Dziesiata , Abramowice and Kalinowka . The camp took up a flat terrain with a size of 270 hectare . Some of it lay on a hill that clearly towered over the area. The northern boundary of the camp was the road leading to Lviv (Lemberg). in the west and south buildings were in the immediate vicinity , to the east fields were used and tended by local farmers . The area around the camp was open and free of natural obstacles such as rivers or forests. Majdanek was two kilometres away from the railway station , at which the prisoner transports would arrive . Going into down-town of Lublin , which had been converted by the Occupation Forces into a German district with numerous offices and Departments for the civil administration and the police authorities, this was about five kilometres away.
|Railway Station - Lublin, as it is now.|
The camp consisted of three parts: the protective custody camp, the SS area and the business complex. The prison camp had an area of 30 hectare consisting of five rectangular fields and two narrower strips, which were called the interim fields (Zwischenfelder). In the intermediate field I, was the crematorium, the morgue and at a later stage, the camp laundry was housed there. The second intermediate field was used to store coal and wood. In addition, there were temporary living quarters for the prisoners of the Sonderkommando, who worked and maintained the crematorium. On each field (350 X 150 meters) they had built in two parallel rows of wooden barracks to house the prisoners with two barracks for the kitchen and laundry room. The free space between the rows served as the assembly court, in the centre stood a gallows.
|Gallows at Majdanek|
The business complex comprised mainly as agricultural land, a vegetable garden (gardening) with greenhouses as well as magazines and camp workshops (among others, a blacksmith shop, a shoemaker's workshop, a carpentry and tailoring facilities). Next to them was a dog kennel with about 30 dogs which were used in guarding and escorting prisoners. The camp area was fenced off with barbed wire, and also the individual inmate fields were secured with double barbed wire and guarded at the entrance gates from 18 watchtowers. Along the inner perimeter of the protective custody camp was a ploughed strip of ground - the "death zone". In case of an external attack the camp was equipped with eight concrete bunkers that were camouflaged with earth and grass. They were secured by guards with machine guns, which formed an integral part of a secure chain of posts along with patrols along the outer fence.
|Site plan of the concentration camp Lublin-Majdanek with the six completed prisoners fields until the liberation|
Majdanek had almost from the beginning the function of a concentration camp, but with its own special features. As the only concentration camp, it was officially designated in 1942 as a POW camp. In early November 1941, it was placed under The Inspection of Concentration Camps, but from 1942 it was directly reporting to the Higher SS and Police Leader in Krakow, Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger, yet when it came to mundane camp matters the SS-Administrator Erich Schellin was responsible. In addition, the SS and Police Leader Globocnik in the Lublin district prevailed over all activities. Anyway, he looked particularly when it came to the stage of persecution and extermination of Jews within the General Government, at Majdanek as "his" camp. In addition to its function as a concentration camp, Majdanek also served as a prisoner of war and criminal transit camp (Strafdurchgangslager). The military hospital for Soviet war invalids and the camp of the Wehrmacht were part of the complex of Majdanek, but on the whole largely independent of its Administration.
As a prisoner of war camp Majdanek was only denominated in name as such, and only of marginal importance. Apart from the soldiers of the Red Army, who came within the framework of transfers between the SS and Wehrmacht in October 1941, contrary to the original plan, a few Soviet prisoners of war were deported to Majdanek, mainly small groups or individuals, often escaped prisoners of war or those who were transferred from other concentration camps. An exception was the admission of 53 Russian female prisoners of war on 25 February 1944. They had refused to sign a work agreement for Germany. Overall, the Soviet prisoners represented in the Majdanek camp, a small group of about 2,000 people. [End of February 1942, only 55 prisoners of war were in the camp, then their number rose to about 150 In April 1943, their number was first 75, then 80. On July 22, 1943 110 POWs were registered, in December that year 121 See: Zeszyty Majdenka 22 (2003), page 227-239.sic]
The 'show-off camp' was designed as a hospital for "Soviet war invalids" (wounded Red Army captives) and established because of a Himmler command of January 6, 1943. The care of the disabled should be used for propaganda purposes at the front. To this end, they wanted to throw leaflets and photographs, which should show, and document the good treatment of Soviet soldiers in German captivity. The hospital was an autonomous unit, which was subordinate to the commander of the Security Police in Lublin. Commander was the police detective Willi Sowalsky . The hospital was loosely connected to the main camp , especially when it came to health and food supply . The war veterans had been transferred from Wehrmacht camps and hospitals in the central sector of the front , especially from the Belarus territory, to Majdanek . The first transport arrived on 21 May 1943. Prisoners of war in the hospital did not form a homogeneous group. Among them were actual prisoners of war , but also "pieriebieszcyki" , ie persons who had declared their willingness to cooperate with the Germans. The average occupancy of the hospital was in the second half of 1943 about 2,000 people. The total number of war-wounded is given as 3,500 .
|Soviet prisoners of war, survivors of the Majdanek camp, at the camp's liberation'|
The extension of Majdanek into a concentration camp for non-Jewish prisoners , of which , apart from the prisoners in the year 1942, POW and the Polish "hostages"(Geiseln) , there were currently none in the camp. As a result of Himmler's command of 14 December 1942 he announced that by 1943, the latest until the end of January 1943 at least 35,000 able-bodied prisoners had to be taken into concentration camps. The local leaders of the SD were obliged for this purpose to check jails , detention centres and labour education camps and transfer those inmates fit for work immediately into the nearest concentration camp. In this way, Majdanek was the destination of transportations from prisons in Warsaw, ( Pawiak ), Lemberg (Lviv), Radom, Lublin and Bialystok . In addition, Himmler ordered on the 11 January 1943 that all persons who were suspected in supporting the resistance movement in the General Government or in their involvement to arrest and convict them and send them into concentration camps in Lublin, Auschwitz or into the Reich . This meant for Majdanek, a significant increase of the number of prisoners who were arrested in the wake of street raids. A large part of them, however, was later released .
In 1942, Majdanek served as a concentration camp for the region around Lublin. Although there were prisoners from outside, such as the Jews from Slovakia, but these transports were deportations within the district. In early 1943, the catchment area of Majdanek stretched in addition over the entire territory of the General Government . On January 6, 1943, Himmler ordered that the rural population should be deported from the operational areas of occupied Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, which was suspect of partisan support, rounded up and transported to concentration camps Auschwitz and Lublin. This plan also included to build a camp for orphaned children and minors in Majdanek. Although the children's camp for them in Majdanek was ultimately not realized, yet they still came with the transports from the East, especially from Belarus, which were "Soviet civilian prisoners".
|Transport of prisoners at Majdanek'|
|Soviet POWs interned in the Majdanek camp, working at forced labor in the Lublin airport'|
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3up5SZBZdY - Wannsee Conference
CONTINUED UNDER PART 3