The Holocaust

Death Marches

History of Death Marches

Death marches did not originate in WWII. A few years earlier, Soviet prisoners were marched through Ukraine and Belorussia and were often walked to death. In 1942, Jews were marched from smaller ghettos in Poland to larger ones (34). The Germans didn't use death marches at first, but when the Soviets started coming to the camps they had to get the prisoners and kill them so they wouldn't be set free.

Reason for Death Marches

At nearly the end of the war, Germany was loosing. Their military force was collapsing and the Allied forces were getting stronger and closing in on them. Germany's enemies were coming at them from both sides. The Soviets were coming from the east and the French, Americans, and British were coming from the west. The Nazi's started to panic and therefore tried to quickly move the prisoners by train. Then they were taken by foot and later known as "death marches." They were forced to walk in any condition with little to no water, food, or rest (35).

Facts About Death Marches

  • There were 59 death marches from Nazi concentration camps (36).
  • Evacuations depended a lot on the death marches (37).
  • Hundreds of prisoners were shot on these marches because they could not keep up (38).
  • Major evacuation operations moved prisoners out of Auschwitz, Stutthof, and Gross-Rosen westward to Buchenwald, Flossenbürg, Dachau, and Sachsenhausen in witer of 1944-1945 (39).
  • Each death march contained thousands of prisoners (40).

Auschwitz Death March Survivor

Holocaust Survivor Testimony: Eliahu Hyman Recalls the Death March From Auschwitz