On January 30th an article entitled “Poland’s Holocaust Denial and Anti-Semitism Run Far Deeper….” appeared in The Tablet. Unfortunately, the article is written from a clearly biased and prejudiced viewpoint – strong terms, but necessary when facts are misrepresented. Among them were the assertion that at the Museum at Majdanek Zyklon B is described as a disinfecting agent and that the history of Jewish victims was eliminated.
The spokesperson of the Museum at Majdanek, Agnieszka Kowalczyk-Nowak has sent a letter to the Editor – enclosed is a copy.
It is regrettable that The Tablet did not fact check the article and instead ran to publish material which significantly diminishes the positive opinion that The Tablet has worked for.
To Alana Newhouse
Dear Ms. Newhouse,
I am writing with reference to the article “Poland’s Holocaust Denial and Anti-Semitism Run Far Deeper Than Just Its Latest Controversial Law” by Benjamin Gladstone that was published at tabletmag.com on January 30. Much to our indignation, we have found there some untrue and misleading information concerning the exhibitions and activities of the State Museum at Majdanek. Let me list them below:
1. At Majdanek, we learned from our tour guide about the gradual replacement of the Jewish survivors’ testimonies that were once displayed at the camp with non-Jewish Polish testimonies – The State Museum at Majdanek did not remove any Jewish testimonies. In fact, lately, we installed plaques with testimonies by former prisoners, including Jewish survivors. The texts are in Polish, English and Hebrew.
2. The plaque in the biggest gas chamber, which had once described its use in the mass murder of innocent Jews, had also been replaced with a new sign claiming that the lethal Zyklon B poison was dropped into the Auschwitz-style chamber merely to disinfect clothing – There is a plaque in gas chambers that reads: “The bunker with gas chambers. In these chambers poison gases were used to murder the prisoners. Carbon monoxide was supplied through metal pipes . . . prisoners were also killed with Zyklon B, which was poured through an opening in the ceiling. Most of the gas chamber victims were Jews (mainly women, children and the elderly).” Again, the texts are in Polish, English and Hebrew.
3. Meanwhile, the Majdanek site administration had dramatically reduced its estimates of how many Jews were murdered in that camp – 15 years ago, our historians, based on thorough historical research and new documents, revised the overall number of the Majdanek victims, not only the Jewish ones.
4. Thus the administration of the Majdanek site, over time, seems to have moved toward the erasure of Jewish experiences and the distinctly Jewish history of the Holocaust – This sentence is entirely untrue. On a regular basis we hold lectures, provide educational activities or publish books on the Holocaust (just browse through our website).
We mark Holocaust Remembrance Days. Currently, there are a few exhibitions presented at the Museum which are devoted only to the Holocaust victims, including:
- “They Arrived at the Ghetto... And Went into the Unknown...” presenting various aspects and circumstances of the extermination of Jews carried out within the framework of “Aktion Reinhardt,”
- “Districts of Extermination. Ghettos for Jews in German-occupied Lublin,”
- “Drawings on the Scraps of Life. The Extermination of Jews in the Lublin Region in the Józef Richter's Sketches” opened on 3 November 2017 when the Museum marks the anniversary of action “Erntefest” – mass shooting of over 18 thousand Jews that was carried out by Germans at Majdanek on 3 November 1943.
With reference to the above, we demand you to correct all the unreliable information in the article. We place great value to the accuracy, including the information about the history of the Majdanek camp and activities of the Museum provided by the tour guides. It is of great importance to us to explain why the guide allegedly told about the plaques. We hope Mr. Benjamin Gladstone will help us in this matter. We will be grateful for all information concerning the guide.