Any study of the routine activities of the SS in an extermination camp must consist above all of an analysis of the whole process of day-to-day extermination and its implementation by human beings. This article deals with the example of Majdanek, a combined concentration and extermination camp situated in the General Government area of Nazi-occupied south-east Poland. In studying the work of SS personnel at Majdanek, this paper seeks to develop our understanding of how destruction constituted the underlying principle of day-to-day work in the camp, and how, in material terms, this work achieved this destruction a process that was highly professionalised, involved a large number of different actors, and was divided into a series of discrete tasks.
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This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book shows the undeniable contribution and the limits of the biopower theory in the understanding of dead bodies en masse. It talks about the fact that criminology has for so long ignored mass crime, even though the link between the corpse and the criminal is one of the fundamentals of the discipline. The book addresses the issue of the practical and symbolic treatment of corpses by societies affected by mass violence. It shows how working ideologies along with historical legacy and geographical landscapes determined the disposal of the bodies. The book examines the simultaneously diplomatic and medicolegal nature of the activities of the French Search Commission for Corpses of Deportees in Germany. It also draws on German archives to describe the various modalities of treatment of corpses in Croatia.