When the Germans invaded the erstwhile USSR during World War II, they established a concentration in the city of Majdanek. This camp housed Polish Jews and the Russian prisoners of war. Today, the camp has been converted into a museum to highlight the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. It has also become a place of archaeological.
An archaeological team from Australia made its way to Majdanek as a part of a documentary film that was being made on this death camp. The team included 4 survivors. These survivors have found jewelry, family heirlooms and coins that were buried by the camp inmates more than 60 years ago.
For the survivors, it was as though the camp was still there. They could point out the exact location where the SS guards made over two thousand prisoners wait for a whole day before they were asked to march into gas chambers. In all probability, it was during the waiting time that the prisoners made an attempt to bury their treasures, as they did not want them fall into the hands of the Nazis.
The archaeological team was headed by an Israeli archaeologist and the dig went on for 3 days. According to Edward Balawajder, the Director of Majdanek Museum, the team dug 35 cm below the earth’s surface and found 50 items, which included rings, wedding rings, coins, and earrings. One of the coins unearthed was a ten dollar coin minted in 1894.
It is estimated that over 360,000 prisoners were slaughtered in the Majdanek camp between the years of 1941 and 1944. More than half of these prisoners were Jews. During the Holocaust six million Jews were killed in concentration camps and out of these half were from Poland. The pogrom started by the Nazis saw 11 million people being killed.
The finding of the treasures belonging to Holocaust victims is truly remarkable. Not just because of the significant value of the treasures, but more because these items provide more evidence of the Holocaust. This evidence is necessary to educate the future generations.
Many of the treasures unearthed in Majdanek are being sent to different Holocaust memorials around the world, including the US Holocaust Museum located in Washington D.C., Melbourne Jewish Holocaust Center located in Melbourne, Australia, and the Yad Vashem located in Israel. These items will continue to serve as memories of what the Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and disabled people faced during the Nazi invasion of Europe.