Newsreels of Majdanek's and other camps' liberations. Image Source: Scrapbook Pages.
Today and tomorrow mark the 67th anniversary of the first Allied liberation of a Nazi concentration camp, Majdanek, where some 79,000 people (or more, depending on the estimate) died on the outskirts of Lublin, Poland. For images of what the Red Army soldiers found, go here and here. Liberations of other camps ran well into the following year. In 1960, the Soviets released their 1944 liberation footage of the camp to the media, which was the first point at which the general public abroad began to grasp fully what had happened, even though the existence of the camps was generally known prior to that. Michael Berenbaum: "[On April 28, 1945,] H.W. Lawrence, a correspondent for the New York Times, wrote: 'I have just seen the most terrible place on earth.' These revelations were not given much credence. The very existence of something as awful as a death camp seemed impossible. Even graphic films of the camp shown in Britain and the United States were dismissed as Soviet propaganda."
There is a list of the order in which the camps were liberated and by which forces here, and a general list of all camps here.
Soviet Red Army Forces first liberated
- Majdanek, July 23-24, 1944
- Ohrdruf, April 4, 1945
- Bergen-Belsen, April 15, 1945
Lublin on the edge of Majdanek concentration camp (March 2007). Image Source: Bronislaw Wesolowski/Wiki. (Click on image to see large version.)Below the jump, some rare colour film of events leading up to the Holocaust, including images of Galicia, Vienna in 1938, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Ohrdruf camp liberation by American forces. This is another example of a historical event taking on a more immediate quality for viewers through the use of colour rather than black and white footage.
Video Source: Youtube.