Private documents of prisoners
It concerns the collection of private documents belonging to prisoners. As a matter of fact, it is also the name of this collection. It amounts to almost 2 thousand documents and other archival materials which were divided into two groups. The first group includes documents with names of people, whereas materials which do not contain any names were divided according to nationalities and classified in the second group.
The above-mentioned collection is unique due to its diversity, above all. In this case, we handle with documents produced by different offices and institutions, referring to many aspects of life, such as: medical certificates, prescriptions, school reports, birth and death certificates, work ID cards, national identity cards and passports, as well as official correspondence, bills, etc. Apart from official documents, the collection includes also private papers, for example letters, postcards, business cards, notes, journals and diaries. All these materials provide information about nationality, social status or denomination of their owners, many of whom became prisoners of Majdanek. In some cases, we encounter archive records which date from the period much earlier than the times of World War II. Some of them document events even from before the beginning of the 19th century. Therefore, we wonder how did they come to Majdanek? Who brought them? Who did they belong to?
We can find the answer by analysing the other documents preserved in the archives of the State Museum at Majdanek or exploring the Internet. The records of Majdanek, which contain recurring names present in private documents, allow to uncover many “secrets.” Preserved camp documentation proves the imprisonment of the majority of people whose names remain in private correspondence, cards, identity cards and passports that were collected in KL Lublin. Thanks to the in-depth analysis of sources that came from different archival collections the fates of many prisoners were established.
Among archives without personal data, the diary written in the Warsaw ghetto commonly called “Marylka’s diary” merits the attention. Its author, a Jewish woman, whose name we do not know, presented the reality that surrounded her with great sensibility and reliability. She lived in hiding from the outcome of the uprising in the ghetto. Her last record dates back from 27 April 1943. Soon after she was probably arrested and brought in one of transports to Majdanek. Unfortunately, we do not know what happened to her after that. It seems that she did not survive the war. Her diary was found in the area of the former camp and is one of the most important testaments to the extermination of Jews in KL Lublin.
Where did the owners of the documents come from? From all over Europe, but above all from Poland, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and countries of the former Soviet Union. Most materials are written in German, Polish, Czech, Slovak and Russian. Moreover, we can also find sources written in French, Flemish, Italian and Spanish.
Why are the materials from the collection number V so interesting? Because every document refers to another domain, differs in appearance from each other, enables getting to know better the person to whom it relates, and sometimes even discovering family secrets. These archives are beautiful in form, fascinating in content and completely different from repetitive, heartless camp forms, files and tables presented in scientific publications concerning Nazi German concentration camps and death camps.