Jeremy Hicks

A Dialogue of Atrocities: Contexts of the Soviet film of Majdanek

While it may be seen as establishing lastingly influential images of the Death Camps, the Soviet decision to publicise their discovery of the Majdanek concentration camp, near Lublin, Eastern Poland, in July 1944, is also a response to 1943 Nazi revelations over the Soviets’ own massacre of Polish officers at Katyn, in 1940. This paper will examine the Soviet film of the Majdanek concentration camp (Majdanek, dir. Irina Setkina, 1944) in the context of Soviet responses to Katyn, such as Setkina’s own Tragedy in the Katyn Forest (1944), the Polish film about the Majdanek concentration camp (Vernichtungslager Majdanek: The Cemetary of Europe, Aleksander Ford, 1944) and the Soviet print reports about Majdanek, especially Konstantin Simonov’s articles for Krasnaia zvezda. The purpose of this analysis is to establish the degree to which the emphasis upon the unprecedented nature of the crimes committed at Majdanek must also be seen in context and in the light of precedents.