Trails of tears

“There were still over 65,000 prisoners of numerous nationalities—the majority of them Jewish—in Auschwitz and its numerous subsidiary camps in mid-January 1945, as the Red Army approached. . . . arrangements to evacuate the camps were improvised with great haste. . . . For five days, beginning on 17 January, long columns of emaciated, starving, and frozen prisoners left the camp complex and were driven westwards by SS guards in forced marches of up to 250 kilometres. . . . On 26 January, an SS unit blew up the last of the crematoria in Birkenau. The next day, the SS guards retreated in heavy fighting as Soviet troops liberated the 7,000 exhausted, skeleton-like prisoners they found in the Auschwitz camp-complex. They also found 368,820 men’s suits, 836,244 women’s coats and dresses, 5,525 pairs of women’s shoes, 13,964 carpets, large quantities of children’s clothes, toothbrushes, false teeth, pots and pans, and a vast amount of human hair.” – Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis

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