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Barrel of soil containing deactivated Zyklon B crystals from Majdanek concentration camp

Object | Accession Number: 1990.192.1

Barrel of soil containing deactivated Zyklon B crystals found outside a crematorium after the liberation of Majdanek concentration camp in Lublin, Poland, by Soviet forces on July 23, 1944. Zyklon B is the commercial name of hydrogen cyanide (HCN), a highly poisonous gas used by the Germans in the gas chambers in the extermination camps. It was delivered to the camps in pellet form in sealed tin canisters. Upon exposure of the crystals to air, any person breathing it would be asphyxiated within minutes. From 1941-1942, Majdanek was a forced labor camp for Soviet prisoners of war, Jews, and non-Jewish Poles. In the spring of 1942, thousands of Slovak Jews were shipped there. From October 1942 until the end of 1943, two gas chambers that used Zyklon B, and possibly a third using carbon monoxide, were built to dispose of prisoners no longer able to work. In October 1942, Majdanek became a mass murder center as the Germans delivered tens of thousands of Jews there to be killed in the gas chambers upon arrival. Determined to kill all the Jews in Poland, under orders from Himmler, over 18,000 Jews are shot in the ditches near the Majdanek crematoriums during Operation Harvest Festival on November 3, 1943. As Soviet troops approach, the Germans begin to evacuate the camp in January 1944; by June, it was nearly empty. The Soviets capture the camp on July 23 before the Germans are able to destroy the facility.

Date
approximately 1942 October-1943  (use)
1945  (found)
Geography
found : Majdanek (Concentration camp); Lublin (Poland)
manufacture : Frankfurt am Main (Germany)
Classification
Materials
Category
Soils
Object Type
Problem soils (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Państwowe Muzeum na Majdanku
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Record last modified: 2018-01-11 14:25:27
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn2899