2007-11-09 / Front Page

Never again

Students witness horrors of Majdanek death camp
By Jessica Cross crossja84@gmail

Photo by Jessica Cross Prisoners' uniforms on display at Majdanek, Poland, a death camp used by the Nazis during WWII Photo by Jessica Cross Prisoners' uniforms on display at Majdanek, Poland, a death camp used by the Nazis during WWII Before World War II, Poland had the second largest Jewish population in the world, 3.3 million. In 1947, the Jewish population was 100,000. On a recent trip to Krakow and Warsaw, Poland, I found almost no signs of Jewish life.

What remains, however, are countless monuments and death camps that tell the story of the murder of approximately six million Jews, including three million Polish Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

A recent graduate of the University of South Carolina, I attended this trip with several honors college students from USC and some from the College of Charleston. I was anxious to step into the history I

learned while in a Holocaust

in Film class taught by Dr. Ted Rosengarten at USC.

All of the group knew of the horrors that occurred at Auschwitz and Treblinka. We visited these two contrasting camps on our trip. While Auschwitz is very museum- like and buzzes with curious tourists, Tre- blinka is hidden in the woods and composed only of memorials.

Zylon B, the gas used on prisoners that sunk into their skin and poisoned their lungs. Zylon B, the gas used on prisoners that sunk into their skin and poisoned their lungs. We also visited Majdanek, the death camp located directly beside the city of Lublin. Majdanek remains in tact.

Like Auschwitz, Majdanek has a museum. But the camp is smaller than Auschwitz and is only one camp, as opposed to three separate camps that make up Auschwitz.

Our tour guide said visitors are much rarer at Majdanek than at Auschwitz. Our group was the only one to visit that day.

Auschwitz is more well known than Majdanek because it claimed many more lives. Majdanek was the only death camp in operation when the Allies invaded it, Majdanek appears untouched.

As difficult as Auschwitz was to see due to the horrors on display, Majdanek was even more horrible to absorb. We saw

  • The areas where prisoners were shaved and humiliated and naked before their peers.
  • The cold showers and the gas chambers where the gas Zyklon B sunk into Jewish skin and poisoned Jewish lungs.
  • Majdanek's mass grave is a mausoleum that serves as a burial place for those people whose lives were taken in the death camps. Majdanek's mass grave is a mausoleum that serves as a burial place for those people whose lives were taken in the death camps.

  • The stretchers that fed dead bodies into the ovens.
  • All of these things are still standing at Majdanek and serve as a startling reminder of the Holocaust.

    Even though these camps are a form of a graveyard, Majdanek deliberately houses an actual grave, a concrete basin that houses the ashes of thousands of victims. Majdanek's mass grave is a mausoleum that serves as a respectful burial place for the lives taken in the death camps.

    Though Jews are seldom found in Poland today, the fingerprint they left on Polish society is inerasable. Poles have made a conscious effort to maintain the Jewish contributions as much as possible.

    There is a photograph of an old synagogue in the Galica Jewish Museum, which is now used as a public library.

    For more information on the Galicia Jewish Museum, visit www.galiciajewishmuseum. org.

    The famous archway at Auschwitz, Arbeit Macht Frei,which means work makes free.The B in the sign is upside down to point out the irony of the saying in contrast to its location. The famous archway at Auschwitz, Arbeit Macht Frei,which means work makes free.The B in the sign is upside down to point out the irony of the saying in contrast to its location.

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