The liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp

Auschwitz concentration camp from its foundation in 1940 brought death and suffering as well as unimaginable horror to all who heard, seen, and worse yet lived through the hell that was happening inside its walls. For the prisoners sent to Auschwitz concentration camp, their daily lives turned into a living nightmare as they faced inhuman conditions and treatment of their Nazi captors. Fortunately for some of the inmates of Auschwitz concentration camp their nightmare, as all nightmares do, ended with the liberation of this Nazi death camp in 1945 with Soviet army advancement deeper into German-occupied Poland.

Beginning of the end of the Auschwitz concentration camp began in 1944 due to the Red Army advancement on the Eastern Front. With the Soviets approaching the camp, SS command started to destroy the evidence of the crimes committed at Auschwitz by burning documents, blowing up crematories, covering the pits containing human remains and ashes. The evacuation of its already exhausted and near-death prisoners started as they were forced to march for 250km to Gross-Rosen concentration camp located deeper into German Reich territory in Lower Silesia. Those less unfortunate were transported by trains all the way while those who couldn’t march, the sick and weak, were executed on sight with the rest continuing on their way to the new camp.

With the approach of the Red Army final days of Auschwitz concentration camp under command of SS officers at the camp began the last executions of prisoners. Due to the fast advancement of the Red Army and turmoil and haste in the SS ranks of Auschwitz stationed troops most prisoners left behind managed to survive. With the evacuation completed, the remaining prisoners were left with no food, heating, electricity, or water for some time. Just a handful of stronger prisoners who managed to hide themselves during the evacuation took the lead in the chaos that ensued after the evacuation providing food left in warehouses, collecting wood and water.

Red Army offensive on 12 January 1945 with the goal of establishing a bridgehead at river Oder for the upcoming attack on Berlin led them through Upper Silesia with the objective of capturing the industrial region located there. Documentation on the region of Upper Silesia did not contain any information on the Auschwitz concentration camp and one might assume that Soviet frontline command did not know of its existence. Liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp prisoners who managed to survive after the evacuation of the camp came only after the soldiers of 100th and 322nd Rifle Division of the 60th Army broke through the German defense lines in their combat operations around the town of Oświęcim and took the main and sub-camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

The appearance of the Soviet soldiers at the streets of the Auschwitz concentration camp undoubtfully brought joy and tears to the prisoners of Auschwitz concentration camp for they were finally free from the living nightmare they were captured in.

Our trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau

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