The criminal prosecution of members of the SS-Staff Members of the concentration camp Lublin-Majdanek began already during the war. From 27 November to 2 December 1944, the first trial was held in Lublin. The charges were for participation in the mistreatment and murder of prisoners, four members of the camp SS and two German Kapos were responsible and had to defend the charges. One of the accused committed suicide, the others were sentenced to death and hanged in public on December 3, 1944 on the grounds of the former camp.
|The execution of war criminals who had served on the staff of the Majdanek camp|
|Paul Hoffmann, an SS man on the staff of the Majdanek camp, beeing taken to his execution.'|
|Former SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Anton Thernes (standing, left) in front of a penal court on trial for crimes committed at Majdanek, 1944, Poland'.|
Lizzie Frieda Else Ehrich was a German SS guard in several concentration camps . After her completion of her school career she was working in a butcher shop. She volunteered for service as a guard at the Ravensbrück concentration camp and graduated the course there from August 15th 1940. At first she worked as a supervisor of block 13 until she was promoted in the summer of 1942 as Rapport Leader. In mid-October 1942, she was sent to Majdanek, where she after a short time acted as Oberaufseherin. Ehrich took part at the selection for the gas chambers. During the evacuation of Majdanek she came to the Plaszow concentration camp and after its evacuation in September 1944 to Neuengamme , where she worked until April 1945. After the war, Ehrich was in May 1945 arrested by members of the British Army in Hamburg and initially detained in internment at Neumünster. Soon after, she was brought into the war camp PWE 29 to Dachau, where she shared a cell with Maria Mandl. On November 22, 1946 Ehrich was extradited to Poland for the Lublin-Majdanek process on June 10, 1948, accused of her involvement in the selections process in Majdanek and of ill-treatment of detainees in both concentration camps Majdanek and Ravensbruck and sentenced to death by the rope on the 26 October 1948.
THE FIGURES OF DEATH VICTIMS AT LUBLIN-MAJDANEK
The first estimates of the number of victims of Majdanek were the result of the work of the Polish-Soviet Investigative Commission, which had been founded in August 1944. They were guided in determining the losses more for propaganda motives than of scientific interest. Furthermore they went from the wrong assumptions about the length of the existence of the camp and the capacity of the gas chambers and the crematoria ovens . On this basis, members of the commission came to the conclusion that at Majdanek, about 1.5 million people had come to their deaths .
Four years later, the judge Zdzislaw Lukaszewicz published a detailed article about the Majdanek camp. The author distinguished four phases of the camp's existence, due to the differing numbers of inmates during these periods. He also took into account the fact that due to improved living conditions and the help of charitable organizations, which significantly reduced the mortality rate from the second half of 1943. However, he increased again, without any source document, the number of deported prisoners, the death toll of the unregistered prisoners and the average number of prisoners living in the camp at anyone time. In some cases, he used incorrectly calculated indicators of the mortality rate. According to his calculations, 360,000 people perished in the camp, including 200,000 registered prisoners. The largest groups among the victims were Jews (200,000) and Poles (100,000).
The results of Lukaszewicz went permanently into the historiography of Majdanek, and are still accepted in scientific publications and reference works both in Poland and abroad. Tatiana Berenstein and Adam Rutkowski, already figured the number of Jewish victims at Majdanek at 120,000, that are 80,000 less than Lukaszkiewicz. However, this did not lead to a revision of his calculations, which is partly due to the fact that until the 1990s in the 20th century, the prisoner mortality in the concentration camp Lublin was not a subject of historical studies in depth, and are even now published of events that took place at that time in many important publications.
The difficulties which presented a balance of victims perished at Majdanek, demonstrates the wide-ranging investigation that led the West German judiciary in the years 1960 until 1974. They collected 25,000 pages of evidence that were used later in the process in Düsseldorf (1975-1981). In the court's opinion, we read: "On the total number of inmates perished in Majdanek [...] in the evidence we adduced, how many people died, we have no accurate idea. At least 200,000 victims, including at least 60,000 Jewish people, the circuit court chamber considers this figure as certain ".
A twist in the research on the death toll of the concentration camp Lublin came in 1992, as Czeslaw Rajca presented new figures, by the number of those subtracted from the total amount of prisoners who were released or were transferred to other camps. He came to the conclusion that approximately 235,000 people died in Majdanek, including 110,000 Jews and 123,000 non-Jewish prisoners, mainly Poles. It should be emphasized that these findings are estimates only that can not be confirmed by archived material.
Given the lack of well-based statistics on the total number of prisoners, subject to all attempts to create a balance of Majdanek victims by comparing the To- and Off- transported people, a high risk of discrepancies still exists . In contrast, the story in the case of "Deportations of Jews", which are occupied for the most part in the sources or have been proven by scientific work, we now know, for example, since 2001 , when a decoded, intercepted radio message from Hermann Höfle , the Leader of the Staff of the "Action Rheinhardt " was discovered that in the year 1942, 24.733 Jews died in Majdanek . However, we have to rely on estimates for some transports as such as before . The error rate moves in the order of several thousand. Starting from this assumption, results of these calculations of the author that about 74,000 prisoners marked with the Star of David were transported to Majdanek . 15,000 of them were transferred to other camps. Consequently, in the concentration camp Majdanek about 60,000 Jewish men, women and children were exterminated. [The German text reads "murdered".HKS]
On Author's calculations of the number of non-Jewish victims were based among other things on preserved archival documents, in which deaths of prisoners are registered or recorded. A particular source is the value of death books (1,940 names) which are obtained for the period from May to September 1942 (6,701 names) and from March to early 1944, as well as the copy of the register of deaths for the period from 20 November 1942 to January 21, 1943 (1,924 deaths). Apart from Jewish prisoners a total of about 19,000 people of different nationalities died in Majdanek, among them mainly Poles and Belarusians. Based on this research, a total of 78,000 people lost their lives in the concentration camp Lublin-Majdanek.
Der Ort des Terrors Vol. 7
Researcher-Author: Tomasz Kranz
C.H.Beck oHG, München 2008.
Institute for Research on Anti-Semitism-Berlin.
Translated from German and French by:
Herbert Stolpmann, May 2014.
HKS: Own initials, when expression
[sic] transcribed exactly as found
in the original source.
a)Cultural Department of the
Federal Republic of Germany
c)The Foreign Office of Germany
b)Alfred Krupp Foundation