“Going east”: colonial experiences and practices of violence among female and male Majdanek camp guards (1941-44)
This article examines the specific experience of the transfer of the camp female and male camp guards to Majdanek and its impacted on the guards' violent behavior. The concentration and extermination camp Majdanek, set up in the summer 1941 on the outskirts of Lublin in Nazi-occupied eastern Poland, was a quite particular camp because of its multiple functions and its eastern location. First the article analyzes how the Austrian and German camp guards perceived their transfer to the “East” and what conditions the employees expected upon their arrival in this new location. In the second section, it scrutinizes the specifically “Eastern” experience of the Majdanek camp staff. Finally it asserts that the conjunction of a specific set of beliefs, cultural prejudices, and racial images of the “Nazi East” along with the concrete “work” experiences on the ground had an impact on the practices of extreme violence in this camp.