The victims of Nazi Germany’s World War II Aktion Erntefest, which saw the mass shooting of 18,000 Jews at the Majdanek concentration camp in Lublin (eastern Poland), was remembered by ceremonies in the city on the event’s 76 anniversary on Sunday.
On November 3, 1943, German forces shot dead more than 18,000 Jews at the Majdenek camp as part of Aktion Erntefest (German for Operation Harvest Festival) in the biggest mass extermination at German concentration camps and one of the biggest committed during the war. A further 24,000 Jews were killed by the Germans in the Trawniki and Poniatowa camps near Lublin as part of the operation. The mass killings completed the extermination of the Jewish population of the Lublin district.
On the anniversary of the killings, staff of the Majdanek camp museum, representatives of the Jewish population and Lublin local government officials lit vigil lights and laid flowers as well as memory stones in line with Jewish tradition at an obelisk devoted to the memory of the victims by the execution trenches at which the Jews were shot.
The director of the education department at the Majdanek State Museum, Jolanta Laskowska, said it was important to care for the memory of crimes committed at Majdanek.
“People should know what happened here,” she said. “Many people do not know that on November 3, 1943, here at Majdanek, our neighbours, people living in the Lublin region, often known to the people of Lublin, were debased to the limits of possibility even before death and were murdered.”
“We must know about it,” she continued. “History shapes us, is important for our future.”