Chapter IV:
The Mortality Rate

1. The 'Natural' Mortality Rate.
Determining the Number of Victims on the Basis of Documentary Sources

While German documentary sources have only been preserved in fragmentary form, they nonetheless permit an approximation of the number of Majdanek inmates to die of 'natural' causes (i.e., from disease, exhaustion etc.). The documents in question are:

Regarding the first "Death Book"[159] there exists a statistical analysis[160] drawn up by Janina Kiełboń, presently the Director of the Majdanek Memorial. We shall reproduce this analysis in the following, and supplement it with a direct examination of the document.

This document contains the names of 6,716 inmates in chronological order by death date (with a single exception). Every name is matched to a registration number.[161] The first number, assigned on June 8, 1942, is 328, the last, assigned on September 29 of the same year, is 7,044. Of the total 6,716 registered names,[162] 123 are illegible, so that Janina Kiełboń was able to statistically analyze the entries for 6,593 inmates. In the register for June, the names of 92 inmates who die between May 18 and 27 are inserted,[163] corresponding to numbers 662-754. The Polish historian's statistical analysis yielded the following data:


# of Dead


# of Dead














Of these 6,593 dead, 5,842 (=88.6%) were Jews and 136 non-Jews; the Death Book gives no clues as to the remaining 615.

Admittedly, the statistical data listed above do not correspond entirely with the document they refer to. We summarize this in the two following tables:

The Dead of the Majdanek Concentration Camp
from May to September 1942160

Date Registration Number # of registered names

May 8-21

May 18-27

June 22-30

July 1-31

August 1-31

September 1-29


328 - 661

662 - 754

755 - 1,083

1,084 - 2,583

2,584 - 4,595

4,596 - 7,026



92 [163]








The Dead of the Majdanek Concentration Camp
from May to September 1942[159]


# of registered names

Daily average


May 18-27

June 8-30

July 1-31

August 1-31

September 1-29
















The question of which period the first 327 deaths relate to remains to be answered. If one considers that the average mortality rate for the first ten days of May was 9.2 and then increased continually, it is logical to assume that it was as yet below this number in April, and that the Death Book began on April 1.

Accordingly, the initial 327 deaths correspond to the period from April 1 to May 17, placing the average daily death rate at 6.9. This fits very well with the statements of SS-Oberscharführer Erich Mußfeldt, the only source for the mortality figures during the camp's initial phase, who spoke of 5 to 10 deaths per day around the end of March 1942.[164]

For the last four days of May and the first seven days of June, which are not covered by the Death Book, one can postulate 300 as the approximate maximum number of deaths, based on the average daily mortality rate in June.

In the first three months of 1942, the average camp population was approximately 2,000 prisoners,[165] so that the number of deaths for this period probably amounted to a few hundred. For 1941, the Polish sources speak of some 2,300 deaths and an average population of 3,000;[166] on the other hand, Mußfeldt's statements indicate that approximately 1,400 camp inmates died between mid-November and late March 1942.[167] This figure strikes us as quite credible. Mußfeldt reports that typhus raged in the camp in November 1941 and that from 10 to 20 inmates died per day.[167] In late December the epidemic had by no means subsided, for the administration planned "a gassing" of the camp.[168] Thus, one can assume[169] that perhaps half the postulated 1,400 deaths were still recorded in 1941, while the other 700 fell into the first three months of 1942; this corresponds to an average of 5 to 10 dead per day and agrees quite well with Mußfeldt's statements.

The "Death Report for the Personal Effects Depot"[170] was a daily register of names (and inmate numbers) of departed (i.e., deceased or escaped) inmates-mostly those from the various sectors of the Majdanek camp.[171] The following table reflects the data contained in the eight surviving lists:


Number of Dead in Compound #







Oct. 20

Nov. 29

Nov. 30

Dec. 1

Dec. 2

Dec. 3

Dec. 4

Dec. 5
























































The "List of the Deceased for the Majdanek Camp"[172] is the transcript of an original German document (specifically, a fragment from a Death Book) which was drawn up in 1946 on the behest of the Chairman of the "District Commission for the Investigation of the German Crimes in Lublin". The document refers to the time from November 20 to December 31, 1942, and records the deaths of 6,009 inmates. The pages of this list are divided into seven columns, detailing the following data: Serial number, Surname, First name, Date of birth, Type of imprisonment, Date of death, Cause of death.[173] The column "Type of imprisonment" notes the nationality of the deceased. The first running number is 12,005 and dates from November 20; the last is 13,740, for December 31. The following note appears at the end of November:

"Month November 1942

deaths of Jews in the concentration camp Lublin


various inmates in protective custody
/-Poles, Greeks, Russian civilians








The following note appears at the end of December:[174]

"Month December 1942

last number

last number

Nov. 1942

Dec. 1942




Dead Sch.


deaths of Jews in conc. camp Lublin various inmates in protective custody /-Poles, Greeks, Russian civilians etc./








dead in December 1942."

Following this note, however, another 27 names are recorded, making the last number 13,740. Thus, the numbers recorded in this list total 1,736, corresponding to 1,735 deaths.[175]

Since the last number for October was 10,236 and the last for September 29 was 7,026, this means that a total of 3,210 prisoners died between September 30 and October 31, 1942.

For the last three months of 1942, therefore, the death statistics look as follows:


# deaths

Daily average










The names of the 2,505 Jews who died in December 1942 are not on this list-no doubt because they were entered into the register intended for this purpose.

Thus, we conclude that there were some 17,200 deaths in 1942, distributed chronologically as follows:

January 1 to March 31

May 18 to September 29[177]

May 28 to June 7

September 30 to October 31



ca. 700


ca.. 300






This figure agrees in its magnitude with that given by Dr. Richard Korherr, the Inspector for Statistics for the Reichsführer-SS, in his March 1943 report "The Final Solution of the European Jewish Question". One section of this document is titled "Jews in the Concentration Camps" and presents statistics about the Jews deported into the German concentration camps up to December 31, 1942. Regarding the Lublin camp, the following data are given:[178]





Population on Dec. 31, 1942

Lublin / men

Lublin / women














With reference to these statistics, Korherr adds:[179]

"The Jews who were quartered in the concentration camps Auschwitz and Lublin in the course of the evacuation proceedings are not included."

In the case of Majdanek, however, this hardly makes a difference. The Death Book shows that the percentage of Jews among the deceased was 88.6%, and the Jewish proportion of the dead listed in the Death Report for the Personal Effects Depot was 85%. Among the deaths figuring on the list analyzed previously, the Jews make up 78% (4,695 of 6,009 deceased). One is thus justified in assuming that the percentage for the entire year was of the same order of magnitude. Indeed, the 14,348 Jews who died in Majdanek in that year, as given in the Korherr Report, correspond to the (14,348 ÷ 17,644 × 100 =) 83.2% which we ourselves have calculated as being the total victim count.

For 1943, only the mortality figures for August and October are documented. The report of SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl to Heinrich Himmler, discussing the "deaths in the conc. camps", contains a "comparison of the deaths in the concentration camps from July 1942 to June 1943", noting the average population, the number of deaths, and the respective percentage of the total deaths, for all the camps. Furthermore, the report gives the number of deaths for each concentration camp for August 1943, again together with the corresponding camp population and the percentage of deaths. And finally, the percentage of deaths is also recorded for July. For Majdanek the figures are as follows:[180]

Mortality rates for conc. camp Majdanek in August 1943

Conc. camp

Average population



% (July)
















For July the number of victims can be calculated with a fair degree of accuracy, since the Pohl Report specifies the percentage of deaths and we also know the average concentration camp population.[181] We arrive at the following data:

Mortality rates for conc. camp Majdanek in July 1943


Average population

% deaths














For the first six months of 1943 the calculation of deaths in Majdanek is more complicated, but in this case as well, we arrive at a statistical magnitude on the basis of confirmed figures. The Pohl Report records the deaths in all the concentration camps together, as follows:





















The actual mortality figures for these six months are known for the following camps:














(until June 1, 1943)

For Buchenwald we only know the total for the entire year; it is 3,516.[187] We shall assume half this figure for the first six months: approximately 1,750 deaths. Regarding Stutthof, in view of the average mortality rate there in May (15 deaths per day), a victim count of approximately 450 seems reasonable for June. Accordingly, roughly 37,300 inmates died in the above-named camps in the first half of 1943.

If one subtracts this number from the total of all deaths occurring (according to the Pohl Report) in all camps between January and late June 1943, this leaves (53,309-37,300=) approximately 16,000 deaths, of which the majority fall to Majdanek and the rest to the total of eight small camps (Flossenbürg, Neuengamme, Groß-Rosen, Natzweiler, Bergen-Belsen, Ravensbrück, Riga and Herzogenbosch). In August 1943, these eight concentration camps held 21.34% of the total number of inmates. They were the site of 10.44% of the total deaths recorded in the concentration camps.[188] On the basis of this data, we can estimate that up to 90% of the total deaths calculated above for the nine camps (Majdanek plus the eight smaller camps) occurred at the Lublin camp. Accordingly, some (16,000×0.9=) 14,400 internees died there in the first half of 1943; together with the victims from July and August, this totals (14,400+1,054+769=) approximately 16,200 dead.

For October 1943 there exists a register in which "Date, Name, Number, Money, Valuables" of the deceased inmates are recorded. It includes 750 names.[189]

In December the mortality rate was quite low, due in part to the reduction of the number of inmates and in part to the improvement of sanitary conditions. The fragmentary population reports for that month indicate the following death figures:[190]


# deceased

Dec. 9

Dec. 11

Dec. 12

Dec. 13

Dec. 16

Dec. ? (illegible)

Dec. 22








Extrapolating from these figures, one arrives at approximately 180 deaths for December 1943.

The second Death Book[191] refers to March and April 1944 and contains 1,940 names, distributed as follows:

Running number

Time period

# deaths



March 1-31

April 1-6

1,654 [192]





The number of dead for March corresponded to 12.72% of the average camp population of 13,000 inmates. That the mortality rate was so extremely high during this period can surely be explained by the fact that Majdanek had been partially converted into an infirmary camp at that time.[193]

Registrations begin with number 20,686 (March 1) and end with number 22,625 (April 6). If one considers that a maximum of 16,200 people died at the Lublin camp between January 1 and August 31, 1943, and that the mortality rate in December 1943 was very low, one cannot but conclude that this Death Book began with January 1, 1943. Accordingly, 22,625 prisoners died in Majdanek between January 1, 1943, and April 6, 1944.

In April 1944, the average camp population (which had been approximately 13,000 only the month before) dropped to 4,350, as the evacuation was already in full swing at that time. Assuming the same percentage of deaths as in March, one arrives at (4,350×0.1272=) approximately 550 deaths, but since 286 deaths were recorded in the first six days of April alone, this figure seems too low. One will thus be well advised to apply the percentage from March only to the last 24 days of April; April then totals some 900 deaths. In May the average camp population was approximately 2,500, in June it was roughly 4,500 (despite the ongoing evacuation, inmates continued to arrive). Under these circumstances, the number of inmates who died in May, June and the first 22 days of July was likely not greater than 1,000.[194]

Therefore, taking all this into account, the total number of deaths in Majdanek from the time of its establishment to the day of its liberation on July 23, 1944, was (700 + 17,244 + 22,339 + 900 + 1,000=) approximately 42,200.

2. Soviet and Polish Claims:
Propaganda, Historiography, and Revision

a) Propaganda

In its closing report[195] the Polish-Soviet Investigative Commission, which was formed soon after the liberation of the camp, claimed that 1,500,000 people had died in Majdanek in the duration of its existence. The bodies of the victims had allegedly been cremated as follows:





in the new crematorium

on pyres near the new crematorium

in the forest of Krepiecki

in the old crematorium

1,380,000 [196]


The Commission does not tell us what allegedly happened to the remaining 120,000 bodies; since they did not figure among those cremated, it was probably assumed that they had been buried.

These figures-which are pure propaganda, as goes without saying-stand in crass contradiction of the material investigations they were supposed to have substantiated: in actual fact, the Polish-Soviet Commission, in its search of the camp grounds and Krepiecki Forest, discovered 467 bodies and 266 skulls, which were subjected to forensic analysis. The Commission also discovered 4.5m3 of ashes and bones,[197] which cannot have corresponded to any more than 3,000 cremated corpses. So the discrepancy between the actual finds and the propagandistic allegations is glaring: (467+266=) 733 buried bodies rather than the alleged 120,000, and at most 3,000 cremated corpses as compared to the alleged 1,380,000!

In the Reasons for Sentence given on December 2, 1944, in the Lublin trial of Hermann Vogel et al., an even greater number of victims was alleged: 1,700,111.[198] This figure was taken up in the charges that the Polish government had drawn up for the Nuremberg Trial, where it was claimed:[199]

"It has been proven that 1,700,000 people were murdered in Majdanek, and that Majdanek was an execution camp in the full sense of this term."

b) Historiography

The Polish "Commission to Investigate the German Crimes in Poland" (later renamed "Commission to Investigate the Hitler Crimes in Poland", and then again renamed "Commission to Investigate the Crimes Against the Polish People" after the end of Communist rule, since Soviet crimes were now also being investigated) reduced the aforementioned propagandistic figures greatly. In 1948, Zdzisław Łukaszkiewicz, a member of this commission, published an article about Majdanek,[200] which set out the results of this Commission's investigation of Majdanek. In other words, this was an official publication, and despite its major shortcomings it does represent an initial step away from pure propaganda and towards proper historiography, even if only in the sense that the author went to the trouble of calculating the number of victims of the camp rather than simply inventing a figure out of thin air. Admittedly, his method still bears the unmistakable stamp of propaganda-which is not surprising in view of the political climate of the time-and is devoid of any scientific and academic value. Z. Łukaszkiewicz bases his arguments almost exclusively on eyewitness testimony and distorts the sum and substance of the few documents he does use. We shall restrict ourselves here to a discussion of the figures he gives.

Łukaszkiewicz subdivides the time of Majdanek's existence into four periods.[201] For the first period, from the establishment of the camp until the end of 1942, he gives the following victim counts:

For this first period, Łukaszkiewicz cites a sum total of "approximately 100,000" victims.[202] Of course, if one adds up the above numbers, the total is actually 113,000.

The second period lasted from early 1943 until June of the same year; according to the author, the victims to die in this time were:

Thus, the running total at this point is 146,000.

The third period covers the time from July 1943 until April 1944; the victims for this period were:

That makes 113,000 victims for this period.

The fourth and last period covered the time from April to July 22, 1944. During that time, 2,000 Poles died.

Thus, Z. Łukaszkiewicz arrives at a total of 360,000 dead,[203] and concludes:[204]

"Based on an analysis of the evidence, one can say with considerable certainty that approximately 60% of the 360,000 victims died a camp death,[[205]] while some 25% were gassed and the rest were shot or killed by other means (hanging, lethal injections)."

As we can see, the number of those who, according to the author, died of 'natural' causes is much greater than those who were murdered: 216,000 versus 144,000 (including 90,000 gassed). The component parts of his statistics indicate that 215,000 registered and 159,000 unregistered inmates died.

Z. Łukaszkiewicz's methodology is decidedly clumsy and is based on two principles: eyewitness accounts and extrapolations. The component figures and sum total of the allegedly unregistered victims are based entirely on eyewitness testimony, which deprives them of any and all evidential value. The sum total of those who died of 'natural' causes, on the other hand, is based on completely arbitrary extrapolations of two German documents: from the 9,216 deaths recorded in these documents, Łukaszkiewicz concludes that the total was 215,000! Let's take a look at his method.

The author proceeds from the assumption that 10,000 Czech and Slovak Jews were deported to Majdanek in April 1942. Since 90% of the 7,026 dead recorded in the "Death Book" for June 1 to September 28, 1942, were Czech and Slovak Jews, he assumes (10,000×0.9=) 9,000 dead for April to September, which is not that much in excess of the actual figure. To calculate the victim count for October, November and December he refers to a section of the "List of Inmates Deceased in the Majdanek Camp", which covers the time from November 20 to December 5 and contains the following note: "Month of November 1942, deaths of Jews in the concentration camp Lublin-2,190."[206] He uses the same figure for October and December and thus arrives at (2,190×2+2,190=) 6,570 dead for that three-month period; he rounds this number up to 7,000. This figure is still too low. But he arbitrarily adds another 12,000 dead, which he arrives at as follows: on the basis of eyewitness testimony he assumes that 15,000 Polish Jews arrived at Majdanek, of which 3,000 were allegedly still alive in November; the others purportedly died.

Z. Łukaszkiewicz's reasoning is quite muddled; as he himself states, the 3,000 inmates who were still alive in November included 1,000 foreign and 1,500 Polish Jews as well as 500 inmates of other nationalities, so that he should actually assume (15,000-1,500=) 13,500 deceased Polish Jews, not 12,000. Furthermore, the alleged 12,000 deaths already include the number for October-but the author adds another 2,190 dead to these.

As an aside, it should be noted that Łukaszkiewicz derives a further 57,000 deaths from the number of registered Jews who died, by assuming from eyewitness testimony that the (12,000+7,000=) 19,000 registered inmates who died made up 25% of the total number of deportees. This total number, he therefore claims, was 76,000, of which 75%, or 57,000, were murdered without having been registered.

Łukaszkiewicz's number of 116,000 registered inmates who died during the second phase is truly amazing. For September 1942, when the camp population was 11,000, Łukaszkiewicz postulates 180 deaths per day, which would mean a daily mortality rate of fully 1.6%. Drawing on eyewitness testimony, he proceeds to calculate an average camp population of 36,000 for the first six months of 1943, setting the daily mortality rate at 1.8% due to the overcrowded conditions. In this way he arrives at 36,000×0.018×180= 116,640 or, rounded off, 116,000.

In actual fact, the average mortality rate in September 1942 was 84 per day, not 180; even assuming an average camp population of 11,000, this means that the daily mortality rate was 0.08%. Furthermore, the alleged average camp population of 36,000 for the first half of 1943 is pure fantasy; according to Z. Leszczyńska's statistics, discussed here in Chapter II, it was approximately 15,300.[207] A daily average mortality rate of 1.8% for a camp population of 36,000 would amount to 648 deaths per day, or 19,940 per month, meaning a monthly mortality rate of 54%! Also, the hypothesis suggesting that the mortality rate remained consistently at the same high level for six months is arbitrary and unfounded.

Z. Łukaszkiewicz uses the same method to calculate the number of registered inmates who died during the third period. He assumes an average camp population of 22,000 and a daily mortality rate of 1.2%, whereby he calculates (22,000×0.012×270=) 71,280 dead-rounded off to 71,000-for the nine months in question. Here as well, his method is completely arbitrary and devoid of any serious foundation. We would just point out that according to Łukaszkiewicz the monthly mortality rate was approximately 7,900, or almost 36%, whereas we know from Pohl's September 30, 1943, report to Himmler that fewer than 800 people died in Majdanek in July 1943, and 1,054 in August. The Pohl Report also refutes Łukaszkiewicz's postulated mortality rate; in actual fact it was 3.4% in July (or a little over 0.1% per day) and 8.84% in August (a little over 0.2% per day)-which is still very high.

Polish historiography proceeded to elevate Z. Łukaszkiewicz's statistics to the status of inviolable truth, so that as late as 1979 the "Commission to Investigate the Hitler Crimes in Poland" maintained the figure of 360,000 victims in its most important official publication about Majdanek.[208]

After Z. Łukaszkiewicz, who was a judge by profession, J. Marszałek, then the Director of the Majdanek Memorial, was the first historian to take a detailed look at the number of the Lublin camp's victims. In his book about the history of Majdanek,[209] he devoted a section to the 'natural' mortality factor, in which he wrote:[210]

"In the case of Majdanek, it is impossible to describe this form of extermination[[211]] in figures, for we do not have complete records of those who perished in the camp."

Despite this "impossibility", he sets the number of those who died of 'natural' causes at 160,000. Let us now see how he arrived at that figure. To start, Marszałek mentions the two Death Books, and states correctly:[210]

"On the basis of the fragments of these two books, the mortality rate in the second half of 1942 can be estimated at 15,000 persons."

With reference to the year 1943, J. Marszałek writes:[212]

"In 1943, notably in its first three quarters, when the average number of prisoners rose to 20,000 and a typhus epidemic raged, the mortality rate increased considerably. [...] According to a secret letter from Oswald Pohl to Himmler, of September 30, 1943, the mortality rate in Majdanek was the highest among all concentration camps and in August amounted to 7.47 per cent among men and 4.41 per cent among women. Thus, one can assume that in the first three quarters of 1943, an average 300 persons died each day, which gives a total of about 90,000 deaths throughout that period."

Both the method of calculation and the result are statistically completely unfounded, for the following reasons:

  1.  Even if the average daily mortality rate had been 300, then from early January until late September (273 days) the total number of inmates to die would have been (300×273=) 81,900, not 90,000;

  2.  Even if one accepted Marszałek's extremely high figures-an average camp population of 20,000 and an average mortality rate of 7.47%[213]-then from January to September (9 months) a total of (20,000×0.0747×9=) 13,446 people would have died, not 90,000;

  3.  As we have seen in the previous section, the actual mortality rate for the entire camp, according to the Pohl Report, was 6.84%; accordingly, the number of dead would have been (20,000×0.0684×9=) 12,312.

  4.  The average camp population during this time was 16,700,[214] so that the number who died would be (16,700×0.0684×9=) 10,280.

  5.  The figure of 300 dead per day, or 9,000 per month, would amount to (9,000÷20,000×100=) 45% of the average monthly camp population cited by J. Marszałek and would therefore be six times greater than the maximum death rate of 7.47% cited by Pohl. If one considers the actual average camp population, then according to Marszałek (9,000÷16,700×100=) 53.89% of the inmates would have died every month!

The Pohl Report indicates a total of 1,054 dead for the month of August, signifying a daily mortality of (1,054÷31=) 34 inmates, not 300!

But the oddest thing about all this is that Marszałek assigns a greater number of victims to Majdanek in the first six months of 1943 than the Pohl Report indicates died during that time in all German concentration camps put together! For the time from January to June of that year, Marszałek calculates a sum of (300×180=) 54,000 victims, but the Pohl Report-which the Polish historian quotes from and must therefore be familiar with-shows that during the time in question the death count in all concentration camps (there were 17 of them) was 53,309.

The following figures apply to the next three months: in July approximately 4,700 inmates died;[215] 4,699 in August; for September, considering the fact that the mortality dropped and the camp population grew, one can assume a maximum of 5,000 dead, so that approximately 14,400 prisoners may have died altogether in these three months. [Marszałek, on the other hand, comes up with (300×90=) 27,000 victims for Majdanek alone, to make no mention of the extra 9,000 which he generously invents in addition.

Regarding the following period, J. Marszałek writes:[216]

"In the fourth quarter of 1943, mortality declined as a result of a decrease in the number of prisoners and a certain improvement of living conditions. However, in the first two months of 1944, it rose again following the arrival in Majdanek of thousands of sick prisoners from other concentration camps. During these two months, between 6,000 and 8,000 prisoners died. According to the extant death book for March 1944, 1,502 persons died at the camp in that month, among them 128 women."

As we have already emphasized, some (20,686-16,200=) 4,500 inmates died in Majdanek from September 1943 to February 1944, so that Marszałek's figures for January and February 1944 are grossly inflated. On the other hand, he set the figure for March a little too low; it was 1,654, not 1,502.

From the above data, Marszałek concludes:[216]

"Altogether, during the whole period of the camp's existence, about 160,000 prisoners perished as a result of indirect extermination."

To be sure, if one adds up his figures, one arrives at a maximum total of (15,000+90,000+8,000+ ,500=) 114,500 dead. Marszałek adds the extra (160,000-114,500=) 45,500 simply by decree, without even trying to account for them somehow. And what adds even more confusion is that these 45,500 must have died in the last three months of 1943-at a time when Marszałek himself admitted that the living conditions in the camp had improved and the inmate population had decreased-as well as in the last four months of the camp's existence, when the evacuations continued to massively decrease the camp population and mortality thus dropped yet again!

Marszałek's figure of 160,000 deaths from 'natural causes' does represent a revision of the figure of 216,000 postulated by Łukaszkiewicz 33 years earlier, but since the former accepts the latter's calculated total of 360,000 without reservation,[217] the entire exercise merely amounts to a redistribution of those "indirectly exterminated" (as Marszałek puts it) and the "directly exterminated", i.e., those allegedly murdered without having been registered. Łukaszkiewicz set the number of these latter victims at 144,000, while Marszałek sets it at 200,000.

c) Revision

Naturally, Z. Łukaszkiewicz's dogmatic decree regarding the number of victims was dictated by important political considerations to which historians of that era had to submit whether they liked it or not. It was not until the early 1990s that Polish historiography made a first tentative attempt to shake off the fetters that had been placed on it by the now defunct Communist regime, and to revise the number of Lublin victims. This arduous process was initiated by Czesław Rajca with a 1992 article whose title translates as "The Problem of the Number of Victims of the Majdanek Camp". Rajca wrote:[218]

"The loss of human life in Hitler's camps, including Majdanek, was a taboo topic until the late 1980s. It was practically impossible to modify the post-war claims which, given the lack of historical analyses of this topic, were based on very meager sources. Both the Commission to Investigate the Hitler Crimes in Poland and the former inmates of Hitler's camps opposed any such modification. This is the reason why, in the monograph 'Majdanek 1941-1944' which I co-authored, I accepted without debate the figure calculated by Z. Łukaszkiewicz in 1948; according to him, some 360,000 people died in the Lublin concentration camp. Now that the aforementioned restrictions dictated by non-scientific considerations have fallen by the wayside, a re-examination of the number of victims of the Lublin camp is possible."

C. Rajca denounces the grossly exaggerated figure of fully 1.5 million Majdanek victims, proclaimed by the Polish-Soviet Extraordinary Commission in September 1944; the Commission, he says, had had access to only "a small number of documents from the camp bureaucracy, as well as a few statements from former inmates." In addition, it had been provided with expert reports on the gas chambers and the crematorium, but these reports had been false since the capacity of the facilities in question had been exaggerated, and since it had been falsely alleged that both facilities had worked without interruption and in tandem from the time of their first use to the time when the camp was dissolved. And finally, 800,000 pairs of shoes had been found there, and the automatic assumption had been that they had belonged to murdered inmates, whereas documents discovered later showed that there had been a storeroom in Majdanek where shoes were sent from other camps. (Also, as we have seen in Chapter I, worn-out shoes were sent from the eastern front to Majdanek for repair.)

C. Rajca criticizes Z. Łukaszkiewicz's aforementioned article summarily but quite bluntly. He acknowledges correctly that compared to that of the Polish-Soviet Commission Łukaszkiewicz's work was groundbreaking, but also stresses the unreliable nature of the documentation his work was based on and which threw his entire line of argument into a very questionable light: almost every figure is inflated; that of the deportees to Majdanek, the camp population in the first half of 1943 as well as in the first quarter of 1944, the mortality rate of 1.8% per day, and the number of Jews sent to the camp.

After C. Rajca has thus undertaken to banish the ghosts of the past, he explains the approach on which his own calculations are based:[219]

"Given the lack of documentary material relating directly to the extent of the crime committed in Majdanek, the only rational means of calculating the number of victims is to subtract from the total number of prisoners sent to the camp the number of those transferred to other camps, those released, and those who escaped."

The figures with which the author works are those given by Z. Leszczyńska in her studies of the transports to and from Majdanek.[220] According to Leszczyńska, it is a documented fact that approximately 275,000 inmates were deported to Majdanek and 45,000 were transferred to other camps. But as she claims that the first of these figures is incomplete, C. Rajca increases it (arbitrarily) to 300,000. Since the sum of all transferred, released and escaped inmates, according to Rajca, totals some 65,000, he arrives at a victim count of 235,000. Of the 300,000 inmates brought to Majdanek, he states, approximately 120,000 were Jews, 100,000 were Poles, 40,000 were Soviet citizens, and approximately 30,000 were Western Europeans. About 110,000 of the victims were Jews.[219]

As we have seen in Chapter II, Z. Leszczyńska's statistics regarding the inmates deported to Majdanek are utterly unrealistic, and thus C. Rajca's calculations, which are based on precisely these statistics, are devoid of any rational foundation.

Rajca concludes his article with a look to the future:[221]

"The above balance sheet of Majdanek victims represents the current state of research into this subject. It is not out of the question that the discovery of new sources (we may yet hope that the documents that were taken to the Soviet Union in 1944 will become accessible) will require a correction of this balance sheet, but it does not seem that drastic changes are likely."

In a brochure published by the Majdanek Museum the matter is portrayed thus:[222]

"Of the approximately 300,000 inmates sent to Majdanek, roughly 235,000 died in the camp, 45,000 were transferred to other camps, 20,000 were released, 500 escaped, and 1,500 were liberated [by the Red Army]."

The two authors remain silent as to the source of these statistics.

Z. Leszczyńska cites a former inmate named Andrzej Stanisławski, who had worked in the camp registry, and reports that a total of 240,000 prisoners had been recorded in said registry.[223] If this claim were correct, the breakdown of inmates admitted to the camp would look a follows:

Total admitted:







235,000 (including 175,000 registered)

In this case, the number of those who died from 'natural' causes would be more than four times the number actually documented-which says it all where the credibility of the 'information' provided by A. Stanisławski is concerned.

At this point we would like to add our own estimates of the number of inmates deported to Majdanek during the time of the camp's existence. If one accepts-as we do-the official Polish figures of 20,000 released and 45,000 transferred inmates, then one arrives at the following breakdown:




Liberated on July 23, 1944:





Total admitted, ca.:


d) The Numbers Given by Western Historians

As we have already pointed out in the Introduction, there is no scientific literature about Majdanek to be found in the western world at all. The historians of renown have never looked into the question of the number of victims of the camp, and the wildly divergent figures they offer depend entirely on which source they used. In some cases they have even "corrected" these sources in accordance with their own personal preference. Added to this is the fact that some of these historians are interested exclusively in the Jews, the alleged victims of the "Final Solution"-as though the non-Jewish inmates who died of diseases, exhaustion etc. did not merit any attention at all. The following examples illustrate the morass of western historiography in this area.

The most pathetic character among the Western historians is no doubt Lucy Dawidowicz, who even as late as 1979 had the effrontery to write of 1,380,000 murder victims in Majdanek;[224] quite obviously she adopted the Polish-Soviet Commission's propaganda figure of 1.5 million victims[225] and arbitrarily deducted 120,000 who died of 'natural' causes. Other historians, such as Lea Rosh and Eberhard Jäckel, have taken up Z. Łukaszkiewicz's figure of 360,000 dead.[226] Wolfgang Scheffler, who for whatever reason does not like Łukaszkiewicz's statistics, offers a total victim count of 250,000.[227] This same figure appears in the article "Majdanek" in the Enzyklopädie des Holocaust;[228] the author of this article, however, is most likely the Polish historian Czesław Madajczyk. The District Court of Düsseldorf, which in the Majdanek Trial made reference to an expert report by W. Scheffler as well as to various witness statements, reduced the victim count yet again and spoke of "at least 200,000 victims, including at least 60,000 Jews."[229]

Certain authors regard the Jewish victims as the only ones worthy of note. Aharon Weiss estimates their number as 120,000 to 200,000,[230] Martin Gilbert speaks of 125,000,[231] Raul Hilberg of 50,000.[232] And finally, Adam Rutkowski, the author of the chapter on Majdanek in the well-known anthology Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas, makes do with the succinct comment that "only estimates exist"[233] with regard to the number of victims of the gas chambers; Rutkowski is also cautious enough to refrain from mentioning any numbers of victims of 'natural' causes.

3. Death from 'Non-Natural' Causes

In Polish historiography the expression 'death from non-natural causes' refers to various groups of victims which fall into two main categories: the registered and the unregistered victims.

The first category is that of the registered inmates who became unable to work-particularly those inmates suffering from typhus-who were allegedly "selected" and killed in the camp.

The second category includes two groups of victims: Poles arrested for activities against the occupation forces and executed in accordance with the verdict handed down by a Special Court, and Jews deported to Majdanek but judged immediately upon arrival as being unfit to work (old men, children and women).

Whereas the mortality due to 'natural' causes is largely documentable and a number of executions of registered Majdanek inmates can also be proven on the basis of documents, all claims made with regard to mass killings without individual trials and without court sentences are based on witness statements (with the possible exception of executions in Krepiecki Forest, to which we shall return later).

Orthodox historiography's allegations of the mass extermination of tens or even hundreds of thousands of people in Majdanek are not only not supported by any documentary proof whatsoever, but are also refuted by a number of verifiable facts.

a) The Alleged Mass Extermination of Registered Inmates

As we have already noted earlier,[234] Polish historiography itself demonstrates with numerous examples that the sick inmates in Majdanek were not exterminated. We remind the reader of the camp for disabled Soviet ex-servicemen, established in 1943 and also mentioned in the July 3, 1944, letter[235] of the garrison physician of the SS and Police Lublin; of the war-disabled there, 1,250 were transferred to Mauthausen on July 7, 1944, and 500 were still there when the Red Army liberated the camp. We have also already mentioned the June 3, 1943, transfer, ordered by the WVHA, of malaria patients from Auschwitz to Majdanek. The camp physician of Auschwitz I explained the reason for this transfer in the December 16, 1943, "Quarterly Report on medical services in the concentration camp Auschwitz":[236]

"To prevent the spread of malaria, an extermination of flies and mosquitoes was carried out with the insecticide GIGS at the end of the quarter-year to which this report pertains. The malaria patients, or inmates who have recovered from malaria treatment, were transferred to the concentration camp Lublin, which is considered to be freer of anopheles[[237]] than Auschwitz."

There can be no doubt about the accuracy of this explanation, since it would have been quite nonsensical to spare these sick inmates the trip into the gas chambers of Birkenau, only to send them into the gas chambers of Majdanek!

Towards the end of its existence, Majdanek was at times turned into a veritable sickbay. As early as 1944, many sick inmates were sent there from other camps:

2,993 from Dachau (January 8 and 17, February 6); approximately 3,000 from Buchenwald (January and February); approximately 800 from Ravensbrück (January and February); approximately 2,500 from Neuengamme (January 26, March 13); 2,700-3,000 from Sachsenhausen (January 26, March 16); 300 from Flossenbürg (March 11).[238] This explains the extremely high mortality rate in Majdanek in March 1944. In the course of the evacuation, the surviving patients were transferred to Auschwitz: on April 9, 1944, 1,980 sick inmates arrived there, 99 of which died en route;[239] on April 16, 988 sick women with 38 children were assigned to the infirmary in Sector BIIa of Birkenau.[240] The last patients who were fit to be transported were taken out of Majdanek by bus on July 22, together with 30 women and children.[241] These facts disprove the allegation that sick inmates in Majdanek were put to death.

Beyond that, there were many young children in Majdanek who naturally could not be put to work. In early 1943 the higher SS authorities even made plans to establish a regular Children's Camp there. In the western regions of the Soviet Union, partisan warfare had turned many children into orphans, and the Command of Army Unit South turned to the Reichsführer-SS with the request to decide on their fate. On January 6, 1943, Himmler ordered that "racially worthless" children were to be turned over to the economic enterprises in the concentration camps, where they would be trained to work and raised to be obedient and disciplined. Himmler entrusted Pohl with the task of setting up a collection camp for children and minors from the occupied Soviet territories. Pohl chose Compound V of Majdanek for this purpose, and informed Himmler of his decision on January 25. But this project was never put into effect, perhaps due to engineering problems or to squabbling over responsibilities among various authorities.[242]

As of 1943, numerous transports of White Russian women and children arrived in Majdanek. Zofia Murawska has partly reconstructed the events in question. According to her, the first transport arrived in the Lublin camp on June 13, 1943. The next group, of 61 women and children, was admitted on October 9. Approximately 200 children between the ages of 2 and 10 years were brought in on October 31, and roughly 2,000 women and children of various ages two months later.[243]

On the intervention of the Polish Red Cross, 2,167 people (957 children and 1,210 women) were released from the camp between July 19 and September 20, 1943. The children, who were in a very poor state of health, were then admitted to the hospital in Lublin, where a high percentage especially of the youngest among them died: 44 of 134 children up to two years of age died, 35 of 173 between the ages of three and five, and 4 of 75 between the ages of six and ten.[244]

Since the hospitals of Lublin, like the entire city, were under SS control, it is logical to assume that they were discharged so that they might recover their strength in the civilian hospitals.

b) The Alleged Mass Extermination of Unregistered Inmates: the Jews

Unfitness to work was allegedly also a reason for extermination where the Jews who were deported to Majdanek were concerned. This presupposes that only those who were fit to work were admitted to the camp and registered. However, this assumption is not supported by so much as a single document. Another factor that speaks against it is that at least a part of the Jews brought to Majdanek from the Warsaw ghetto were admitted as a body, without any selection.[245] The Düsseldorf Court, which found itself faced with the task of interpreting this fact standing in such crass contradiction to the extermination theory, dreamed up the following explanation:[246]

"In spring 1943, when the mass transports primarily of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto arrived in the camp and, unlike in previous times, included not only many older people but also numerous mothers with children, the immediate liquidation of all these people 'useless for labor purposes' was no longer always possible due to the 'limited' capacity of the gas chambers and the cremation facilities. From time to time this forced the camp administration to temporarily admit Jewish mothers and children to the Women's Compound, and to send the children to the gas chambers only later, when a 'suitable opportunity' arose."

This attempt at an explanation is downright pathetic. After all, the facilities considered by the court to be execution gas chambers had a total capacity of 600 people,[247] and the rest of the new arrivals marked for death could simply have been shot in Krepiecki Forest.

Since the Jews who were admitted to the camp without being 'selected' were registered normally, their 'belated' murder would have had an impact on the 'natural' mortality rates in the camp, but such was not the case.[248]

For November 1943, the Düsseldorf Court remarked:

"The barracks to the right housed Jewish workmen, presumably from Czechoslovakia [sic!], together with their families which also included children and toddlers."

This also does not agree with the theory of selection and the extermination of children and other people unfit to work!

On Compound V there were two barracks that served to house pregnant Jewesses and small children, which represents another blow against the extermination theory. In an attempt to explain this contradiction, the eyewitnesses claim that the sanitary conditions in these barracks defied description and that the inhabitants of these barracks were all gassed within three weeks anyway;[249] if this were true, then there would have been no reason for these two barracks to have existed in the first place, since there could have been no reason to register the women and children already marked for death, rather than "selecting" and killing them immediately upon their arrival.

c) The Alleged Mass Extermination of Unregistered Inmates: the Poles

According to Polish historiography, this category included, first and foremost, partisans, hostages, and citizens sentenced to death by Special Courts for acts of resistance against the occupation power. Even though these executions are not documented, we have no doubt that they took place, given the political climate at that time.

As an aside, the autopsies conducted by the Polish-Soviet Commission on the 733 bodies discovered in Krepiecki Forest showed that 349 of the dead exhibited bullet wounds.[250] In this particular instance we do not question the credibility of the Commission's claims. We do not know whether some of these execution victims may have been Majdanek inmates sentenced to death for violations of camp rules.

How many Poles were killed in this way is not known. J. Marszałek speaks of approximately 10,000,[251] but this figure (based only on eyewitness testimony) is likely to be inflated for propaganda reasons. The Düsseldorf Court mentioned 10 transports, each with 30 to 50 persons to be executed.[252] The actual figure may very well have been higher.


[159]APMM, sygn. I, d-19.
[160]"Księga wieznów zmarłych na Majdanku w 1942 r.", in: ZM, XV, 1993, pp. 111-115.
[161]Cf. Document 12.
[162]No name is assigned to number 706, so that the sum total of registered names is (7,044-327-1=) 6,716.
[163]Probably an earlier register existed, and the names from that were transferred to the Death Book.
[164]Anna Zmijewska-Wiśniewska, "Zeznania szefa krematorium Ericha Muhsfeldta na temat byłego obozu koncentracyjnego w Lublinie (Majdanek)" (Statements of the Head of the Crematorium, Erich Muhsfeldt, regarding the former Concentration Camp in Lublin (Majdanek)), in: ZM, I, 1965, p. 139.
[165]See Documents 9 and 10.
[166]T. Mencel, op. cit. (note 126), p. 500.
[167]According to Erich Mußfeldt's statements, made in Polish captivity, there were 1,200 Soviet prisoners of war in the camp on November 15, 1941; according to Mußfeldt, 300 had already died. Further, 100 to 200 Jews were allegedly there at that time. At the end of March 1942 only 300 Soviet prisoners of war remained. Anna Zmijewska-Wiśniewska, op. cit. (note 164), pp. 138, 139.
[168]See Chapter VIII.
[169]Assuming a daily average of 15 dead.
[170]GARF, 7021-107-3.
[171]See Document 13.
[172]Archiwum Glownej Komisij Badania Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Polsce, 626 z/OL3, "Wykaz wiezniów zmarłych w obozie na Majdanku" (Index of inmates deceased in the Majdanek camp).
[173]See Document 14.
[174]See Document 15.
[175]The death of one inmate-Otto Winternitzx, No. 13,233-was registered twice.
[176]Including September 30.
[177]Not including May 28 to June 7.
[178]NO-5194, p. 12.
[179]Ibid., p. 11.
[180]PS-1469, p. 4.
[181]See Chapter II.
[182]Johann Neuhäusler, Wie war das im KZ Dachau?, Dachau: Kuratorium für Sühnemal KZ Dachau, 1981, p. 27.
[183]GARF, 7021-104-4, p. 58 (update for 1942).
[184]Hans Maršálek, Die Geschichte des Konzentrationslagers Mauthausen. Dokumentation. Vienna: Österreichische Lagergemeinschaft Mauthausen, 1980, p. 157.
[185]Death Books of Auschwitz. Published by the State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Munich, New Providence, London, Paris: K. G. Saur, 1995, v. 1, pp. 236f.
[186]PMS, sygn. Z-V-10/14 (Death Books).
[187]Eugen Kogon, Der SS-Staat. Das System der deutschen Konzentrationslager, Munich: Karl Alber, 1946, p. 120.
[188]PS-1469, p. 4.
[189]APMM, sygn. I. d. 19a.
[190]APMM, sygn. I-c-2, vol. 1. See Document 8.
[191]GARF, 7021-107-9.
[192]See Document 16.
[193]cf. Chapter II.
[194]This would correspond to approximately 14% of the camp population.
[195]This report was also published as a brochure: Communiqué of the Polish-Soviet Extraordinary Commission for Investigating the Crimes Committed by the Germans in the Majdanek Extermination Camp in Lublin, Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1944. Later the Soviets submitted this report at the Nuremberg Trial as Document USSR-29; cf. IMT, vol. VII. p. 590.
[196]Ibid., p. 21.
[197]Ibid., p. 13, as well as Protocol No. 1 of the forensic examination of the Crematorium, from August 4 to 23, 1944, GARF, 7021-107-9, p. 258. The heap of allegedly 1,350m3 "compost of soil, the ashes of burned corpses, and small human bones", which the Commission mentions on p. 20 of its aforementioned Communiqué and which today is located in the camp mausoleum not far from the new crematorium, consists for the very most part of sand.
[198]"Na samym Majdanku wymordowano 1,700,000 ludzi" (1.7 million people were murdered in Majdanek alone). Sentencja wyroku, op. cit., (note 3).
[199]The Republic of Poland vs.: 1. German war criminals. 2. Their formations and organizations, identified in Charge 1 at the International Court-Martial, p. 44. This report was submitted as Document USSR-93 at the Nuremberg Trial. Cf. IMT, vol. VII, pp. 214.
[200]Zdzisław Łukaszkiewicz, op. cit. (note 10), pp. 63-105.
[201]Ibid., pp. 86-91.
[202]Ibid., p. 88.
[203]Ibid., p. 91. If one adds the subtotals, one arrives at a total of 374,000 dead.
[204]Z. Łukaszkiewicz, op. cit. (note 10), p. 91.
[205]Meaning those who died of 'natural' causes.
[206]Ibid., p. 87.
[207]Z. Leszczyńska, op. cit. (note 129), pp. 13-16.
[208]Glowna Komisja Badania Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Polsce, Obozy hitlerowskie na ziemiach polskich 1939-1945. Informator encyklopedyczny. Warsaw: Panstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1979, p. 309.
[209]Józef Marszałek, Majdanek. The Polish original was published in 1981 under the title Majdanek. Obóz koncentracyjny w Lublinie. We quote from the English translation: Majdanek. The Concentration Camp in Lublin, Warsaw: Interpress, 1986.
[210]Ibid., p. 124.
[211]J. Marszałek considers 'natural' mortality to be an indirect form of extermination.
[212]J. Marszałek, op. cit. (note 209), pp. 214f.
[213]The average mortality rate was 6.84%.
[214]See Documents 9 and 10.
[215]Calculated based on the average camp population and the actual mortality rate, which was 2.23% in July.
[216]J. Marszałek, op. cit. (note 209), p. 125.
[217]Ibid., p. 142.
[218]Czesław Rajca, op. cit. (note 9), p. 127.
[219]Ibid., p. 129.
[220]See Chapter II.
[221]Czesław Rajca, op. cit. (note 9), pp. 129f.
[222]Anna Wiśniewska, Czesław Rajca, op. cit. (note 2), p. 32.
[223]Z. Leszczyńska, op. cit. (note 136), p. 37.
[224]Lucy Dawidowicz, The War against the Jews 1933-1945, Pelican Books, 1979, p. 191.
[225]The German version of the relevant report is listed among the sources used by L. Dawidowicz, ibid., p. 528.
[226]Lea Rosh, Eberhard Jäckel, Der Tod ist ein Meister aus Deutschland, Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe, 1991, p. 217.
[227]Wolfgang Scheffler, Judenverfolgung im Dritten Reich, Berlin: Colloquium Verlag, 1964, p. 40.
[228]Enzyklopädie des Holocaust, op. cit. (note 7), v. II, p. 918.
[229]District Court Düsseldorf, op. cit. (note 55), v. I, p. 90.
[230]Aharon Weiss, "Categories of camps-Their character and role in the execution of the 'final solution of the Jewish question'", in: The Nazi Concentration Camps. Proceedings of the Fourth Yad Vashem International Historical Conference, Jerusalem, January 1980, Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1984, p. 132.
[231]Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz und die Alliierten, Munich: C. H. Beck, 1982, p. 437.
[232]Raul Hilberg, Die Vernichtung der europäischen Juden, Frankfurt/Main: S. Fischer, 1990, v. II, p. 956; the original English edition (The Destruction of European Jewry, Chicago: Quadrangle, 1967) speaks only of "tens of thousands", p. 572.
[233]E. Kogon et al. (eds.), op. cit. (note 6), p. 244.
[234]See Chapter III.
[235]Letter of the garrison physician of the SS and Police Lublin to the SS Economic-Administrative Main Office, Amt III, of July 3, 1944. APMM, sygn. I.d.2, v. I, p. 1. See Chapter VIII.
[236]GARF, 7121-108-32, p. 97.
[237] Malaria-transmitting mosquito.
[238]Zofia Leszczyńska, op. cit. (note 112), p. 116. See Chapter III.
[239]Danuta Czech, op. cit. (note 122), p. 752.
[240]Ibid., p. 757.
[241]Zofia Leszczyńska, op. cit. (note 111), p. 127.
[242]Zofia Murawska, "Dzieci w obozie koncentracyjnym na Majdanku" (The Children in the Concentration Camp Majdanek), in: ZM, X, 1980, pp. 141f.
[243]Ibid., p. 145.
[244]Ibid., pp. 148f.
[245]In other cases, the selection was performed in Treblinka, even though according to the official 'Holocaust' literature that camp was "strictly an extermination camp"! T. Berenstein and A. Rutkowski (op. cit., note 115) comment: "A few transports from Warsaw arrived in Lublin via Treblinka; a selection of the deportees had been carried out in Treblinka." The authors also mention that in February 1943, 104 Jewesses were sent to Majdanek from Treblinka, and similarly, in March of the same year, 35 Dutch Jews were sent there from Sobibór (also "strictly an extermination camp"! op. cit., note 115, p. 16). And finally, Z. Leszczyńska reports that 1,700 Jewesses were sent to Majdanek from Bełżec (the third "strict extermination camp"! op. cit., note 110, p. 189). According to the statements of Rudolf Vrba, a transport of Slovak Jews that arrived in Majdanek on June 16, 1942 was selected at the Lublin train station; only those who were judged fit to work were admitted to the camp (APMO, RO, t.XXa, pp. 37f).
[246]District Court Düsseldorf, op. cit. (note 55), v. II, p. 405.
[247]Ibid., v. I, p. 80.
[248]Ibid., v. II, p. 463.
[249]Zofia Murawska, op. cit. (note 242), p. 144.
[250]Communiqué..., op. cit. (note 195), p. 13.
[251]J. Marszałek, op. cit. (note 209), p. 135.
[252]District Court Düsseldorf, op. cit. (note 55), v. II, p. 505.

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