We visited Majdanek, near the city of Lubin, Poland, which is two hours south east from Warsaw by road.
Whereas the worst of Auschwitz was largely destroyed, Majdanek was still functioning at that time. It is almost impossible to imagine, that Majdanek was still ditching out death as if nothing was happening as the Red Army came ot its very doors.
Mark Tronson remembers that it was the most terrible place he had ever seen. He sensed an evil presence. Over 800,000 Jews were murdered here. One third died of disease and sickness associated with being worked to death, with inadequate supplies of food.
What was more, the inmates could see the city of Lubin and its lights at night - so close and yet so far away. Majdanek employed 1300 staff, and although there were SS quarters, many of the staff lived in Lubin. It was not a secret, it is out in the open without trees to hide it.
M V Tronson, five years later in reflection, considered the 2008 movie 'The Reader' where Hanna Schmitz (played by Kate Winslet) is shown on trial for her role as a Nazi concentration camp guard is at pains to explain to the court that this was her job, and what else could she have done.
We saw the place where Jews and other inmates had their hair shaved – three swipes for the head, one swipe each for under the arm pits and private area – this was also an attempt at hygeine, to reduce the likelihood of lice and therefore typhus fever. And men did the hair cutting.
We walked into the gas chamber, it was chilling. 30 seconds and you were dead.
We saw where gold teeth were pulled from the dead bodies, and where the bodies were cremated. And all in sight of Lubin.
The buildings were bleak and dark outside and in. We saw the racks upon racks of shoes. I felt physically uncomfortable. ( In Auschwitz all of those type of buildings were destroyed so you don't see the graphic presence of what was there, only the SS Buildings, which are now museums).
Auschwitz is the sanitized public exhibition of the Holocaust, whereas Majdanek is the real thing, mankind gone mad, mankind lost, mankind without a soul.
I'm still having bad dreams. It was a glimpse of hell.