Death Marches Research

By: Jessica Sedotto

Death Marches General Information

Death marches are the forced discharge on foot of concentration camps in the winter of 1944-1945. SS officials had to evacuate the camps to remove the witnesses and to conceal the crimes that had been committed. Prisoners had to march on foot in the middle of winter to Germany. Around 60,000 prisoners were taken on death marches at a time and the people that were too weak or could not keep up were shot. The marches started on train, but quickly changed to walking on foot because the Red Army was was moving into Germany.

January 25, 1945- The Evacuation and Death March from Stutthof Concentration Camp

Prisoners from Stutthof concentration camps were marched to the Baltic Sea Cost and then forced into the water and machine gunned. Other prisoners had to go on a death march to Lauenburg in Germany where they were cut off by advancing Soviet forces. The Germans forced the prisoners to go back to Stutthof. They had to march in terrible winter weather conditions and were treated viciously by the SS guards. Thousands died on the way. In April 1945, the rest of the prisoners were taken from Stutthof by sea, since Stutthof was surrounded by the soviets. Hundreds of prisoners were forced into the sea and shot. One out of two prisoners died during the evacuation. When Stutthof was liberated, 100 prisoners who had managed to hide from the final evacuation were rescued.

Timeline of Events

  • Most death marches occurred between 1944 and 1945. The biggest death marches were launched from Auschwitz and Stutthof. There were also relevant marches in Buchenwald, Gross-Rosen, and Oranienburg.
  • In January 1945, the Third Reich almost had military defeat. As the Allied forces came to the Nazi camps, the SS organized death marches to keep prisoners from going with the Allies. Though many people were shot, the prisoners mostly died from exhaustion, exposure, and starvation.

Major Death Marches and Evacuations- 1944-1945

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  • "Encyclopedia Judaica:Death Marches." Death Marches. Web. 20 May 2016.
  • "Death Marches." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council. Web. 20 May 2016.