Majdanek - cmentarzysko Europy (1945) - full transcript

Movie filmed directly after the liberation of the concentration camp at Majdanek, which is considered as the first in the world document the Nazi genocide. Interviews with prisoners from different countries of Europe. Documentary record of 24 and 25 July 1944.

Europe's Cemetary

Directed by
Aleksander Ford

25th July 1944

Lublin, center of the first
people's government in 1918

again celebrates the rebirth
of the Polish democratic statehood.

Lublin saluted freedom!

Victorious Polish and Soviet armies
brought it with its bayonets.

Lublin saluted sovereignty,

which was announced to the
exhausted country in the first Manifesto

of the Polish Committee
of National Liberation.

Lublin saluted red and white flag
that flaunted across the city

for the first time after
many years of captivity.

Lublin said farewell to those
who have fought for freedom

but didn't live to see it.

The clamor of battle was
already approaching the city,

when in Lublin's prisons,
while preparing themselves for escape,

German executioners killed
the best sons of our nation.

What we found in the Lublin castle
were victims of Hitler's last crime.

Peasants, workers, intellectuals,
men and women, boys and girls...

There was blood
up to the ankles.

It flowed from the third floor
to the ground,

through the ceiling and walls.

Every drop of blood

from Hitler's new Katyn

is mourned by someone.

Every drop calls for revenge.


"Stop. Keep away."

"No photography allowed."

"Whoever comes near will be
shot without warning."

This is...

Vernichtungslager Majdanek.

Barbed wires, guard towers,

machine guns,

high voltage electricity and reflectors,

the SS Men and police dogs.

No escape from
the German death camp.

Every day thousands
sent to annihilation.

Every day thousands
of incoming new victims.

Devastated by the powerful strike
of the Red Army,

fleeing Germans attempted
to cover these crimes

but didn't have
enough time for everything.

We found here
a fantastic scene.

Ashes are still settling.

Snippets of some photographs.

Mountains of stacked boots.

Wide fields of lush cabbage.

And people with burnt numbers
on their chests.

Human remains, half-dead...

half-crazy from terror...

Executioners who
didn't manage to escape,

SS-Obersturmf?hrer Anton Thernes,

and SS-Rottenf?hrer Theodor Sch?llen

stood before the Polish-Soviet
Commission for the investigation of

German crimes at Majdanek.

Chairmen of the Commission:
Witos and Kudryavtsev,

members: priest Dr. Bialkowski,

president of the Polish Red Cross
Society Dr. Christians.

Foreign journalists
were also there.

Obersturmf?hrer Thernes, one of those
who didn't manage to escape from Lublin.

Today he appears as a witness,

tomorrow he will be held responsible
for all the villainy

of the camp's torturers.

Military rank:

First lieutenant and Obersturmf?hrer

Obersturmf?hrer will tell us about
the murders on the territory of the camp.

About 21 March... no, October,
a transport came from Warsaw...

and by this transport
the first camp physician Lanke...

he sorted out the people according
to ability and inability to work...

and that day he pulled out
about 500 people...

and afterwards
they were all gassed.

Among them were many
women and children.

He tells that in October 1943

a carriage of prisoners
arrived to Majdanek.

From that group the doctor
singled out 500 persons

as incapable for work.

They were all gassed and burned,

among them a huge number
of women and children.

Such events happened
in Majdanek every day.

It's unclear why Thernes brings
out an incident of no great importance.

He could rather talk about
3rd November 1943

when 18 400 people
were shot in Majdanek.

I'm not a sadist.

I haven't beaten
anyone, never. Never.

I am not a sadist, no. Never.

Never been a sadist. I don't know
these things. I am too much fine.

Thernes claims
he's a very subtle man.

Are you familiar with principles
of international law?

Yes, in Geneva, this...

that no one may be shot,
a prisoner,

that the addresses are exchanged,

that the Red Cross, their planes
and their ships, may not be fired upon,

that's the Geneva Convention,
isn't it?

Witness speaks that
in accordance with the Geneva Convention

it's forbidden to
treat prisoners badly.

Here we have
another war criminal.

SS-Rottenf?hrer Sch?llen.

This man pulled out gold teeth
from the victims with pincers.

Today he assures us
he wouldn?t harm a fly.

He curses at Hitler and the SS
to demonstrate his moral level.

He tells shocking stories about
life in the camp.

Let's hear one of them.

I've been told about...
By the prisoners.

In the gas chamber accounted...
about 150 children...all exterminated.

Sch?llen says he witnessed
the killing of 150 children.

I have seen after two days a still
living group selected from the mass.

I've seen several dozen such cases.
I observed from afar.

Germans, members of the SS,

walked with rods,
and finished off those people with rods.

After they've pulled them
out from the ditch.

I saw among others a badly wounded
woman who got out from under a corpse

and crawled maybe ten meters
more when the SS man,

not even with his rod
but with his boot,

kicked her in the head
a few times, and she died...

They were burning corpses
at Majdanek after this execution

for maybe 12 to 14 days.

They were burning on average
1500 bodies every day.

There was a need to hurry up.

So, for that purpose
special gas chambers were built.

There were 6 gas chambers,
but only 2 were working.

One with an old technology,
and the other with a new one.

Here, German wickedness
crossed every imaginable line.

The gas chambers were
connected to the baths.

Everyone who was going there
never knew where they were going.

To take a bath...

or to take the final journey.

From that bath they were all
moved and squeezed in,

so that they were standing naked
very close to each other,

to a chamber
where they were killed.

The commission of technical experts,

after they got to know
the materials from the investigation,

and based on the material evidence,

established that at Majdanek

German executioners killed
about 2 million innocent people.

Among them died many
important people from all of Europe.

The digging has started.

Every strike of shovel
brings new victims.

Every hour of the search brings
to the surface new rows of corpses.

Those who were killing,

German ?bermensch.

It was enough to take them
their guns

to reveal the real faces
of these cowardly degenerates.

Only yesterday, accompanied
by the sounds of the waltz by Strauss,

they killed women and children.

Today they want
to buy themselves out

and obediently
show the known places

where lay hidden traces
of their most terrible crime.

The sad cemetary
of Majdanek grows.

New piles of bones and skulls.

New layers of ash
from the human bones

and the human dust.


Here's Majdanek.

Long rows of colored little houses,

Curtains on the windows,
streets sprinkled with gravel.

Water supplies and
gardens with flowers.

Everything for service.

SS pubs, SS canteens,

SS brothels,

even SS toilets!

"SS only"

Deutschland ?ber alles triumphs.

But prisoners are not forgotten.
SS cares about hygiene in the camp.

Here's bath-house number one.

Badeanstalt Nummer eins.

Prisoners are taking baths.

On the opposite side is
Badeanstalt Nummer zwei.

The bloodiest baths
known to humanity.

Prisoners have to take
their clothes off.

Clothes have to be put
on hangers punctually.

Then they enter the baths.

They must squeeze,
fill the whole Badeanstalt

so there's no
free space at all.

Iron doors are sealed

Nothing can be seen, darkness.

The hand of the executioner
opens the can of zyklon.

Aquamarines crystals of gas,
death in horrifying pain.

Through the barred little window

the SS executioner observes
the agony of the victims.

He needs to hurry,
new victims are waiting.

The death factory
is outstandingly organized.

Gassed victims
are sent to the crematoria.

They are made from
hardened bricks, five furnaces,

fire-resistant grates,
hermetical iron doors.

If the victim has too long legs
or hands, they can be chopped off.

Everything's calculated.

Special transporters for the corpses.

Loading blocks,
electric bore evacuators,

guaranteeing high temperature
and, above all, no waste of time.

Cremation takes 25 minutes,
the capacity of one furnace is 6 bodies.

The chimney is
a few dozen meters in height.

This is contemporary
German architecture.

An indestructible monument
to the contemptuous times.

The Rechkemmer firm
advertises its work.

It was they who delivered
all these technical devices.

How much is left of a man...

But Majdanek wasn't only
a camp of destruction.

It was also a plant where
man became the factory product.

There is ash, but there are
also by-products of death.

Nothing falls out
from German hands.

They'll supply millions of
Germans with items for daily use.

Transports with stolen goods
were leaving Majdanek daily.

To this day, German women
are walking around

in stockings from
Majdanek, Treblinka, Auschwitz.

German "Gretas" wear gloves
from the chopped off hands.

German children
play with bloodied dolls.

Germans live off
someone else's blood and sweat.

In this barracks 800 000
pairs of boots were found.

Men's, women's, children's.

Every pair carries
the fate and the torment of man.

Better boots were
sent directly to Germany.

Worse were repaired here
in the shoemaker's workshop.

The worst were made back
to raw material.

Trembling hands of
a half-dead slave can do a miracle.

The old shoes were turned
into handbags and buttons,

cases for powder,
elegant trinkets for women.

800 000 pairs of boots,

800 000 killed.

But this is not all.

Mothers search in vain the traces
of their children at Majdanek cemetary.

How many of those are there
after whom no shoe or document was left

or anything except
a handful of ash in the crematory?

Even the human dust
feeds the German cannibals.

On the fields that were fertilized
with the bones of the murdered

German cabbage
now grows luxuriously.

There's one more way
of exploiting the ashes.

German state sells urns with
remains of the murdered to their families.

1000 zlotys for
150 grams of ash.

There are no limits
to German perfidy.

Ex-prisoner at Majdanek, French

I want to thank
Polish and Russian soldiers

for liberating me from
the extermination camp.

We suffered here from
unspeakable torment.

I and my comrades in misery,

people of all nations.

Frenchmen, Belgians,
Dutchmen, Poles...

The real International
of the German slaves.

Candidates as much as you want...

Ex-prisoner at Majdanek, Dutch

They killed my 4 brothers.

My mother and father
died during the war.

I suffered a lot.

They tortured me.


These are the luckiest ones,
the ones who managed to be saved.

Human ruins...

Ex-prisoner at Majdanek, Belgian

I spent two years
behind the wire.

I was in a lot of camps
during that time,

but what happened in Majdanek

was monstrous
beyond anything I had seen.

Millons of people
starved and beaten.

Germans were fair.

Behind the wire of Majdanek people
of all races and nations were dying.

Ex-prisoner at Majdanek, Austrian

Through that chimney
thousands flew away in smoke.

They were destroyed
because they represented

a worldview opposite to the principles
of the national socialism.

Free Lublin, its people and their
army salute the memory of the heroes.

To the west
follow the retreating enemy.

Words of a song
that has become

a prayer and an oath
of the fighting Poland.