The Holocaust/Death marches and liberation

From Wikibooks, open books for an open world
< The Holocaust
Jump to: navigation, search

As the armies of the Allies closed in on the Reich at the end of 1944, the Nazis decided to abandon the extermination camps, moving or destroying evidence of the atrocities they had committed there. The Nazis marched prisoners, already sick after months or years of violence and starvation, for tens of miles in the snow to train stations; then transported for days at a time without food or shelter in freight trains with open carriages; and forced to march again at the other end to the new camp. Prisoners who lagged behind or fell were shot. The largest and most well known of the death marches took place in January 1945, when the Soviet army advanced on Poland. Nine days before the Soviets arrived at the death camp at Auschwitz, the SS guards marched 60,000 prisoners out of the camp toward Wodzislaw, 56 km (35mi) away, where they were put on freight trains to other camps. Around 15,000 died on the way. In total, around 100,000 Jews died during these death marches.

In July 1944, the first major Nazi camp, Majdanek, was discovered by the advancing Soviets, who eventually liberated Auschwitz in January 1945. In most of the camps discovered by the Soviets, the prisoners had already been transported away by death marches, leaving only a few thousand prisoners alive. Concentration camps were also liberated by American and British forces, including Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on April 15, 1945. Some 60,000 prisoners were discovered at the camp, but 10,000 died from disease or malnutrition within a few weeks of liberation.

-Suggestion for the section on liberation: Add quotes from Edward R. Murrow's April 15, 1944 broadcast about the liberation of Buchenwald.