Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki marked the 76th anniversary of a mass execution of Jews by Nazi Germans committed during World War II at the Majdanek concentration camp in Lublin, eastern Poland.
On November 3, 1943, German forces shot dead more than 18,000 Jews at the Majdanek camp as part of Aktion Erntefest (German for Operation Harvest Festival) in the biggest mass extermination at German concentration camps and one of the biggest committed during the war.
"Aktion Erntefest shows that the scale of German barbarity and cruelty is unimaginable for us today," PM Morawicki wrote on Twitter.
A further 24,000 Jews were killed by the Germans in the Trawniki and Poniatowa camps near Lublin as part of the operation. The mass killings completed the extermination of the Jewish population of the Lublin district.
"On November 3 and 4, 1943, around 42,000 Jews, including women and children, were murdered at Majdanek, Poniatowa and Trawniki, as well as other camps of the Lublin district," PM Morawiecki recalled.
The director of the education department at the Majdanek State Museum, Jolanta Laskowska, said it is important to preserve the memory of these war crimes as many people are unaware of what happened at Majdanek.
"Our neighbours, people living in the Lublin region, often known to the people of Lublin, were tormented to the limits and eventually were murdered." Ms Laskowska said.
Staff of the Majdanek camp museum, representatives of the Jewish population and Lublin local government officials lit candles and laid flowers as well as memory stones in line with Jewish tradition at an obelisk devoted to the memory of the victims, standing by the execution trenches at which the Jews were shot.
The German concentration camp at Majdanek existed from October 1941 to July 1944. Of the probable number of 150,000 prisoners about 80,000 lost their lives because of hunger, illness, excessive work, as well as in executions and gas chambers. 60,000 of them were brought to the camp from all over Europe. Jews, political and criminal prisoners, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, prisoners of war. People captured during round-ups, displacements and pacifications were also transported to Majdanek.