|Unlike many other Nazi concentration and extermination camps, Majdanek is not hidden away in some remote forest or obscured from view by natural barriers, nor was it surrounded by a "security zone." It was established in October 1941, at Heinrich Himmler's orders, following his visit to Lublin in July 1941. Majdanek was an SS-run prisoner of war camp, under the command of Karl Otto Koch. In February 1943, it was turned into a concentration camp.|
Because of a lack of records, the death toll at Majdanek has always been more difficult to estimate than that of other extermination camps. The Soviets initially overestimated the number of deaths, claiming in July 29, 1944 that there were no less than 400,000 Jewish victims, and the official Soviet count was of 1,500,000 victims of different nationalities, though this estimate was never taken seriously by scholars. In 1961 Raul Hilberg estimated the number of the Jewish victims as 50,000, though other sources (including the camp museum) officially estimated 100,000 Jewish victims and up to 200,000 non-Jews killed.