The concentration camp Majdanek was a place of suffering.

The people imprisoned there suffered under catastrophic sanitary conditions, epidemics, at times completely insufficient rations, back-breaking heavy labor, harassment. More than 40,000 Majdanek inmates died, primarily from disease, debilitation and malnutrition; an unknown number was executed.

The real victims of Majdanek deserve our respect, just as all victims of war and oppression deserve our respect, regardless what nation they belong to. But we are not doing the dead any service by inflating their number for political and propagandistic reasons and by making utterly unfounded claims about the way they died.

The longer a time separates our present from World War Two, the less justification there is for supplementing the real suffering and the real deaths in the Lublin camp with inventions of gargantuan-scale slaughter committed in gas chambers and with mass executions-a slaughter for which there is no trace of proof and which numerous compelling arguments of a historical as well as technical nature speak against.

The reduction in Majdanek's victim count which was introduced in Poland in the early 1990s was justified by saying that the unscientific considerations which in the past had required an inflation of the real numbers were now no longer valid. If that is truly so, then we may expect that the Polish historians- who, unlike their western counterparts, have at least tried to research the events in Majdanek-will throw off the dead weight of Stalinist historiography completely and not only in small portions, and that they will be open and honest about the consequences that will perforce follow from the state of documentation and from the physical nature of certain facilities on the grounds of the former camp Majdanek.

A real and lasting reconciliation between the German and the Polish people, which is exactly the hope of this book's two authors, who have ties of friendship to both peoples, can only flourish on a foundation of the whole truth!

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