740.00116 EW/8–1944: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Harriman ) to the Secretary of State

3073. Press for August 19 publishes “Communiqué of ‘Polpress’ agency” announcing formation of Polish-Soviet Extraordinary Commission to investigate German crimes committed in connection with concentration camp at Majdanek near Lublin. Press also publishes long Tass56 Lublin dispatch describing results of investigatory work already undertaken by Commission.

Polpress communiqué states that Polish Committee of National Liberation,57 taking into account fact that Germans carried out mass killings of Soviet prisoners in Lublin camp, proposed to Soviet Government establishment of Polish-Soviet Commission To Investigate German Crimes. Soviet Government accepted proposal. [Here follows a partial listing of the Soviet and Polish representatives appointed to this Commission.] Communiqué states that Commission has begun investigation of German Fascist crimes in Lublin and establishment of exposure of organizers and direct executors of these crimes.

Lublin despatch dated August 18 refers to several hours spent by Commission on camp territory and refers to thousands of pieces of evidence examined. It states that 2 million persons entered Majdanek camp, of which only a handful miraculously escaped. Of remainder, only photographs, entries in list of killed, articles of clothing, ashes or bones are left.

New evidence is constantly being unearthed. This includes dozens of boxes of passports belonging to Poles, Frenchmen, Dutchmen, Czechs, Greeks, Soviet persons and others. Despatch refers to letter of German firm manufacturing ovens for burning prisoners in which directions are given for use of these ovens.

It is estimated that at least 600,000 prisoners were burned in Majdanek ovens. Commission has also begun investigation of graves of Polish war prisoners and local inhabitants shot by Germans in nearby Krembecki Forest.

  1. Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union, the official communication agency of the Soviet Government.
  2. First established at Chelm (Kholm) by the National People’s Council of Poland by a decree of July 21, 1944, as the executive authority of the Communist-sponsored and Soviet-supported government in Poland. Soon thereafter it transferred to Lublin and was commonly known as the Lublin Committee.