During their westward advances beyond Soviet borders into Poland in late July 1944, Red Army soldiers came upon the Nazi concentration and extermination camps Majdanek, Treblinka, and Sobibor—the Allies’ first encounter with such places. Accounts of the gruesome camps were first featured in the Soviet press and disseminated immediately thereafter in Western publications. Red Army service personnel in the region toured Majdanek in part to toughen up, fueling their revenge for the ongoing pursuit of the Wehrmacht. One Red Army soldier commented: “What I read in the newspapers about the atrocities committed at Majdanek and my personal tour of the camp opened a terrifying picture before me, which forces us, the Red Army soldiers, to finish off quickly the German beast. I will tell my soldiers about the tour of Majdanek and will call them to fight ruthlessly against the German killers.” Voiced another soldier: “Here (at Majdanek), the Nazis burned thousands of people like fire logs. The Germans committed atrocities unprecedented in history. When I arrive in my subdivision, I will tell my warriors and we will fight the Nazis with even more hatred.”

Petr Ashotovich Sarkisian. Liberate Our Brothers!, May 31, 1944. Gift of the USSR Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries.

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