Private Tolkatchev at the Gates of Hell
Selected Panels from the Exhibition
The Majdanek concentration and extermination camp, next to the city of Lublin, was the first camp to fall into Allied hands, in July 1944. The Soviet forces, which had advanced since February 1944 through fierce battles into Poland(in it’s pre-war borders), quickly arrived at the front, which was only 150 kilometers from the camp. Due to the proximity of the approaching onslaught, the SS commanders ordered the evacuation of the camp. In the night between the 22nd and 23rd of July, the Soviet forces entered the camp and found several hundred sick and handicapped prisoners who had been left behind.
This work exemplifies Tolkatchev’s expressive use of color to give voice to his own feelings and mood while encountering the sights of the Majdanek extermination camp. Tolkatchev tries to emulate the feeling of horror that the presence of the furnaces created, while their real smoke was looming over the lives of the camp’s prisoners.