Fire at Majdanek Leaves 10,000 Pairs of Shoes Burnt

Published: August 11th 2010
in News » World

Majdanek entrance

A fire broke out late on Monday at the Majdanek concentration camp near Lublin, Poland, leaving a display of 10,000 pairs of shoes belonging to Jewish prisoners destroyed. This was the first fire that has broken out since the site officially became a state museum.


It is the second time this year that a concentration camp has been damaged. Back in May, heavy floods covered the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and nearly destroyed the memorial area.


The fire, which occurred just prior to midnight and took six hours to put out, seriously damaged two-thirds of the wooden structure containing the shoes. Firefighters were called immediately and they arrived promptly to prevent extensive damage.


On Tuesday, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev expressed his support and assistance to Majdanek Museum Director Tomasz Kranz. “The damage to these irreplaceable items is a loss to a site that has such historical value to Europe, Poland and the Jewish people,” said Shalev.


Authorities are still investigating various possibilities, however the cause of the fire still remains unclear. According to the site manager, the fire was most likely started as a result of a power outage.


Built in October 1941, Majdanek was named after the Polish village of Majdan Tatarski and operated until June 23, 1944. It was established by SS leader Odilo Globocnik, who was also responsible for the operation of the death camps of Sobibor and Treblinka.


Majdanek was the second largest Nazi concentration camp (Auschwitz-Birkenau being the largest), and contained gas chambers and crematoria. According to the Majdanek Museum's internet site, about 80,000 people were murdered at the camp, three-quarters of them being Jews. The Nazis did not have enough time to destroy it before it was taken over by the Red Army.


Today, the museum is visited by tourists from all over the world, including Israeli youth groups. It is known for being very well-preserved.

Related articles: (Majdanek, shoes, Holocaust, memorial, fire)

Share with friends Print this page Read later Recommend 4 times