In January 1943, Heinrich Himmler issued the order to establish an autonomous field hospital for Soviet prisoners of war in one of the fields at Majdanek. It was to quarter invalids who had suffered injuries or contracted diseases while fighting in the Red Army, as well as the prisoners who had gone over to the German side.
The Commandant of Majdanek selected field II as the site of the field hospital. Although formally independent of the authorities of KL Lublin and managed by the commandant of the Security Police and Security Service in Lublin, the site was guarded by the camp’s guard service and supplied with food and clothing from camp warehouses. The first invalids were transferred there in May 1943 from the infirmaries and camps maintained by the Wehrmacht.
The organization of the hospital, provision of medical care to the invalids and office work were assigned to a group of 31 prisoners: physicians, translators, clerks, and cooks. The group was composed of 28 Poles, 2 Czechs and one German – doctor Otto Hett, who served the function of the Revierkapo.
The field hospital comprised barracks for surgery, communicable disease and internal medicine patients occupied in total by approximately 200 people and tended to by two doctors: one Pole and one Soviet. The facility also included a dispensary and two operating theatres. The remaining part of the field hospital was occupied by POWs not in need of medical assistance.
Between May 1943 and July 1944, around 3,500 prisoners were interned in field II. Due to the insufficiency of food rations and rampant epidemics, the mortality rate in that group was very high. On average, a middle-aged man in this group would weigh around only 36-38 kg.
During the evacuation of Majdanek, prisoners still fit for work were sent to concentration camps in the Reich. At the time of the liquidation of KL Lublin on July 22, 1944, several hundred of invalid prisoners still remained at the site.