January 17th 1945: Evacuation of Auschwitz

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Entrance gates to Auschwitz’s main camp

 

On this day in 1945, the evacuation of the Auschwitz concentration camp begins. The Soviet army were fast approaching, and the Nazi officials at Auschwitz had previously begun dismantling gas chambers to hide their crimes. Himmler ordered the evacuation as the Red Army closed in. 60,000 prisoners from Auschwitz were forced on a death march toward Wodzisław Śląski (Loslau) where they would be sent to other camps. Around 15,000 died on the way. 7,500 of the weak and sick remained, and they were liberated by the 322nd Rifle Division of the Soviet Red Army on January 27th 1945.

 

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One response to “January 17th 1945: Evacuation of Auschwitz

  1. the survival of those who remained behind is something of a miracle, as they were ordered to be murdered before evacuation. But during the chaos none of the SS guards bothered, or perhaps remembered. In the book, Night, Elie Wiesel talks about how, during his stint in the Auschwitz “hospital,” fellow patients were talking about how they heard the SS had orders to exterminate the sick, those left behind in the mass exodus. Despite his feet still being wounded, Wiesel leaves his hospital bed and finds his father to join the others in the death march. He truly believed that if they stayed, they would have died.

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