The Mausoluem at the Nazi German concentration camp of Majdanek. Photo: PAP/Wojciech Pacewicz
The ceremony brought together the camp’s former inmates, war veterans, foreign diplomats and local authorities.
Majdanek was one of the first concentration camps to be liberated by Allied forces during the War. Around 80,000 people lost their lives during World War II at the camp, the majority of them Jews.
“The camp in Majdanek was one of the largest and one of the harshest for prisoners which was set up by the Third Reich in occupied Europe,” said the director of Majdanek State Museum, Tomasz Kranz.
“Around 80,000 people died here, of which 60,000 were Jews, mostly from Poland and Slovakia,” Kranz added, stating that “Majdanek one of the largest World War II cemeteries in Europe.”
Ecumenical prayers were said at the camp site by the auxiliary bishop of Lublin Mieczyslaw Cislo, a representative of the Jewish community Roman Litman, Orthodox priest Fr. Marek Waszczuk and the head of the Protestant parish in Lublin, Pastor Grzegorz Brudny.
The Nazi concentration camp in Majdanek, known as Konzentrationslager Lublin, existed between October 1941 and July 1944. Originally it was set up only for men, but from October 1942 started accepting women, and from March 1943, also children.
The camp was originally for political prisoners, criminals, people considered by the Nazis to be ‘asocial’: Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Jews, as well as POWs and other civilians.
With the Allied front fast approaching, the Nazis started to evacuate the camp in March 1944. Prisoners were transferred to other camps. On the 22 July, 800 prisoners were transferred to Auschwitz and the Germans fled the camp.
Soviet soldiers entered Lublin and Majdanek the next day, on 23 July 1944. (jb/mk)