Tag: Operation Reinhard

Tag: Operation Reinhard

Majdanek Concentration Camp

Majdanek was a Nazi concentration and extermination camp operated by the Schutzstaffel (SS) during the German occupation of Poland in World War II from 1st October 1941 until 22nd July 22 1944 and was used to kill people on an industrial scale.

Majdanek Concentration Camp was located on the outskirts of the city of Lublin and was initially intended for forced labour. It soon became part of Operation Reinhard, the secretive German plan to exterminate Polish Jews in the General Government district of German-occupied Poland.

The 270 hectare camp was one of the largest of the Nazi run death camps with seven gas chambers, two wooden gallows and 227 structures. Unlike other camps, Majdanek was captured nearly intact due to the rapid advance of the Soviet Army; which did not allow the SS sufficient time to destroy the infrastructure and evidence of war crimes.

The concept for Majdanek originated with Heinrich Himmler who was Reichsführer of the SS and a leading architect of the Holocaust. Originally, the camp was used as a work camp housing prisoners from 30 different countries and Soviet prisoners of war. The conditions at the camp were horrific, of the 150,000 people who were imprisoned in Majdanek, 80,000 died, including 60,000 Jews. Many succumbed to disease, starvation and the forced labour.

During the beginning of Operation Reinhard, Majdanek was re-purposed as a sorting and storage depot for property and valuables stolen from the victims at the death camps of Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. The gas chambers were added to the camp in September 1942; at which time, Majdanek began to function as a killing centre.

The official estimation of the number of victims of Majdanek is 78,000, of those 59,000 were Jews.

In July 1969, on the 25th anniversary of its liberation, a large monument 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.

For those of you who are staying in Warsaw, we highly recommend a private guided tour to Majdanek Concentration Camp. Your professional guide will take you into the most interesting parts and tell you everything you want to know about it. Your tour is private so it’s you who decide where do you want to go.

Alternatively, if you wish to explore Lublin in addition to Maidanek, then we recommend a full-day private tour to Majdanek Concentration Camp and Lublin from Warsaw.

After your guide picks you up from your hotel, you will head to the Majdanek concentration and extermination camp, located just outside of the city of Lublin. Originally, it was supposed to be bigger than the infamous Auschwitz and plans were implemented to make it a slave labor source for the creation of a new empire in the east. Here the daunting stories of the premises from your personal guide. After a lunch break, you will have the opportunity to discover Lublin – a beautiful city rich in history, where Western and Eastern Worlds meet. During its golden ages, Lublin was a wealthy city, full of the aristocracy’s impressive palaces, amazing sacral architecture and tenement houses. Found out why it also carries the nicknames “Little Cracow”, “Vienna of the North”, “Little Jerusalem” and decide yourself which one is most fitting for this pearl of eastern Poland.

Visit the Majdanek website.

Treblinka Concentration Camp

Treblinka was an extermination camp, built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II. Together with the camps at Bełżec and Sobibor, the camp operated as part of Operation Reinhard, the deadliest phase of the Final Solution, so called in memory of Reinhard Heydrich, a high-ranking German SS and police official during the Nazi era and one of the main architects of the Holocaust.

The camp was located in a forest north-east of Warsaw, 4km south of the village of Treblinka in what is now the Masovian Voivodeship.

Treblinka operated between 23 July 1942 and 19 October 1943 and during this time, it is estimated that 870,000 people were murdered there. More Jews were killed at Treblinka than at any other Nazi extermination camp apart from Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Treblinka was divided into three parts and was a highly efficient death factory. One part of the camp was for the use of staff and housed workshops, another part was set aside as a reception area for prisoners and the third part was the extermination area.

A narrow alley known as the ‘pipe’ connected the reception area with the extermination area allowing for quick transportation of prisoners to the gas chambers. The extermination area also contained mass graves and woodpiles for the cremation of prisoners.

Unlike other extermination camps, prisoners at Treblinka were murdered almost immediately upon arrival at the camp. There was no tattooing, no huts, no wooden bunks and no forced labour. People went straight to the gas chambers as soon as they alighted from their transport.

Initially, there were three gas chambers at Treblinka with the capacity to asphyxiate 300-500 people per hour. Ten much bigger gas chambers were added in September 1942 increasing the capacity to between 1000-2000 people per hour.

Prisoners arrived in the village of Treblinka by transport trains, each with forty to fifty trucks carrying 6,000 to 7,000 people. From there, they were transported to the camp 4km away by convoys of trucks. On arrival at the camp, men were separated from the women and children and were forced to strip naked.

They were then driven down the, ‘pipe’ into the, ‘bath house’ where they died of gas poisoning within about 15 minutes.

The bodies were initially buried in mass graves but later were cremated on the orders of Heinrich Himmler who was already thinking about how to cover up the genocide. This was also required of the victims that had already been buried, and so the mass graves had to be opened and the bodies burned. The remains and the ash were thrown back into the graves.

The clothes and items left by the victims in the deportation barracks before the ‘shower’ were sorted. Gradually, bankers and goldsmiths were selected from the transports and formed into a commando called the Goldjuden – Gold Jews. Their job was to collect and classify any valuables, which were then vigorously traded by Germans, Ukrainians and the local population.

The first transports to Treblinka came from the Warsaw ghetto. Between the 23rd of July and the 21st of August 1942, a total of 254,000 Jews from Warsaw and 112,000 from other parts of the Warsaw region were murdered here.

Tours & Experiences

Half Day Treblinka Concentration Camp Private Tour from Warsaw with Lunch

Treblinka Concentration Camp, Heartbreaking Tour from Warsaw

Treblinka – Half Day Tour from Warsaw by private car

Treblinka Concentration Camp Tour and Nazi ideology explanation