In the fall of 1941, a concentration camp was built on the outskirts of Majdanek, a district of Lublin. The location of the camp near a major city was exceptional; nearly all the other Nazi concentration camps were located far from the cities and important roads.
It was the second largest concentration camp in Europe after Auschwitz, but soon became more than a concentration camp. It became a mass extermination camp, one of the largest death camps in Poland. The camp was established in October 1941 and liberated by the Soviet army on 22 July 1944.
More than 360,000 people from 51 different nationalities and 26 countries were murdered there in the gas chambers. The Jews were the largest group of victims: approximately 100,000. In April 1944, the Germans started evacuating the camp because the then Soviet Union army was approaching. The women were taken to Ravensbrück and the men were taken to Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen. The sick were taken to the Birkenau extermination camp. Upon arrival the Soviet troops found the camp with 'merely' a few thousand sick prisoners.