Tag: Operation Reinhard

Tag: Operation Reinhard

Majdanek Concentration Camp

Majdanek

Majdanek Camp – updated 31 August 2022

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

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.

Crematorium

Heinrich Himmler

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.

Majdanek

Victims

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.

One day tour to Majdanek concentration camp and Lublin from Warsaw

One day tour to Majdanek concentration camp and Lublin from Warsaw

Visit a place which is different than Auschwitz or Dachau. Majdanek Concentration Camp is the most complete witness of the terrifying Holocaust. Silent, with no crowds or rush. Chill out at a beautiful old town in Lublin afterward.

After the hotel pick up, you’ll drive with your guide towards Lublin, which is located approx. 190 kilometres from Warsaw (3 hours’ drive). The Majdanek Concentration Camp was a Nazi German concentration and extermination camp established on the outskirts of the city of Lublin during the German occupation of Poland in World War II. The camp, which operated from October 1, 1941, until July 22, 1944, was captured nearly intact because the rapid advance of the Soviet Red Army prevented the SS from destroying most of its infrastructure. Majdanek, also known to the SS as Konzentrationslager Lublin, remains the best-preserved Nazi concentration camp of the Holocaust. Nowadays it’s a quiet and a bit forgotten Museum, which you will visit with our guide.

After the visit in Majdanek guide will take you to the Old Town of Lublin. This city thrived as a centre of trade and commerce due to its strategic location on the route between Vilnius and Kraków; the inhabitants had the privilege of free trade in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Lublin Parliament session of 1569 led to the creation of a real union between the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, thus creating the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Lublin was a royal city of the Crown Kingdom of Poland, and for centuries, the city has been flourishing as a centre of culture and higher learning, with Kraków, Warsaw, Poznań, and Lwów.

Although Lublin was not spared from severe destruction during World War II, its picturesque and historic Old Town has been preserved. The district is one of Poland’s official national historic monuments, as designated May 16, 2007, and tracked by the National Heritage Board of Poland – Book tickets

Visit the Majdanek website.

Treblinka Concentration Camp

Treblinka Extermination Camp

Treblinka – updated 01 September 2022

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.

Treblinka

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.

Extermination camp

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.

The pipe

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.

Concentration camp

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.

Treblinka Tours

Treblinka Concentration Camp

What to expect from this tour

Visit the museum and memorial to World War II in Treblinka, the second-biggest Nazi extermination camp.

Start your tour at the south end of the Warsaw Ghetto, where now the Palace of Culture and Science is. There, with your guide, you will see the memorial to Janusz Korczak, an educator, children-author and pedagogue, who went to Treblinka with his child students. Next, head for the Umschlagplatz, where Warsaw Jews were selected and loaded on the trains to the camp.

Afterwards, head for Treblinka commemoration place. There, in the middle of the forest, visit a museum with a miniature model of the camp and watch moving testimonies of some of the camp survivors. Next, following the symbolic train tracks, you walk towards the impressive Treblinka memorial. Made of over 17,000 stones, the monument commemorates over 700,000 victims of the extermination camp. Learn dire stories of transportation of the European Jews to this camp and find out more about the revolt that took place in Treblinka in the summer of 1943. After the time of contemplation at the Treblinka memorial, you return to Warsaw, to the original starting point.