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History of Majdanek camp; survivors

Film | Accession Number: 2004.715.1 | RG Number: RG-60.4330 | Film ID: 2744

An onscreen slate from WFDiF (not original to the film) reads: Film entitled "Majdanek" was produced after the liberation of camp by the Polish Army. The premiere of film: November 1, 1944. Original titles read: Film Polski Warsaw presents: a documentary of the Polish Army Film Unit made on 25th July 1944: "Majdanek". Majdanek was liberated by the Soviets on July 23, 1944.

25th July 1944: Celebration scenes outside in Lublin as Polish Army soldiers enter the city. Women weep with joy, people hand flowers to soldiers. The camera pans down a turret of the Lublin Castle to show the corpses of prisoners shot on the eve of the German retreat. People weep and kneel beside the dead. More corpses. Footage of the sign (in Polish and German) that hung on the barbed wire fence around Majdanek. The narrator gives numbers and nationalities of the dead. Panning shot of prisoners behind the barbed wire. Close-ups of faces. Members of the International Investigation Commission and the interrogation and trial of Obersturmbahnfuehrer Anton Thernes. Thernes is shown giving a statement about an October 1943 transport from Warsaw. 500 persons were deemed incapable of work and were gassed; among them were many women and children. The scene changes to show mass graves being exhumed by German camp personnel. The narrator gives a history of the Majdanek camp, with scenes of the gas chambers, the barracks, human remains (skulls), glasses, brushes, clothing, dolls, toys, photos, shoes. Investigators visit the camp. The next scene shows liberated prisoners, many of whom are wounded, walking beside a barrack. Hands display passports belonging to the dead from all corners of Europe (the international nature of the camp's population is emphasized several times in the narration). A huge crowd of people at a memorial service for the camp's dead. This scene was added to the film later; the narrator indicates this service took place 16 years after the liberation, and the end credits state that the English version of this film was produced at the Documentary Film Studio in Warsaw in 1960.

This film is a version of the other immediate postwar documentaries about Majdanek, which were produced in several languages and by several countries.

Event:  1944 July 25
Production:  1944/1960
Lublin, Poland
Majdanek, Poland
Accessed at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Filmoteka Narodowa
Record last modified: 2020-08-04 09:21:35
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