Death Marches

By Hunter Thompson

What were the death marches?

The death marches were the transport of prisoners from concentration camps outside of central Germany. If the prisoners were too week to march, they were simply killed as they would slow down the rest. These death marches were ordered by Heinrich Himmler, the Reich Leader of the SS. As the Red Army, the Russian army, advanced on Polish concentration camps (including Auschwitz) the SS took most of their prisoners and transported them to concentration camps in Germany where the liberators could not free them. An estimated 200,000-250,000 prisoners were killed on these marches.

What were the three reasons why Himmler did not want the prisoners to be liberated?

A) The SS did not want to have the prisoners to be alive and in custody of Allies where they could bring to light all of the things the SS did to the prisoners

B) They also needed the prisoners to build and make anything they needed for war efforts

C) The SS also believed that if they kept

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An Inside Look at A Particular Death March: Stutthof

  • The evacuation of Stutthof began in January of 1945.
  • It began with 50,000 prisoners, 5,000 were marched to the Baltic Sea, forced in, and gunned down. It is estimated that 25,000 survived, the rest were killed.
  • The death marches destination was Lauenburg (eastern Germany)
  • After being cut off by Soviet forces on the way, they forced the prisoners back to Stutthof.
  • On the second attempt, in April of 1945, they killed another group of prisoners in a similar manner as the first 5,000. They then put the prisoners on boats and shipped them to various areas, including some that were put in the hands of the Swedish government, some going to camps on the Baltic coast, and most to the Neuengamme camp near Hamburg.
  • On May 9, 1945, about 100 prisoners were liberated from Stutthof that had hidden themselves when the camp was being evacuated.

Timeline of Death Marches

Summer of 1941: First large scale death march; Hundreds of thousands of Soviet POW's were marched through Ukraine and Belorussia. Thousands were murdered at prearranged execution sites.

Nov. 8, 1944: 76,000 Jews were marched from Budapest to Austrian borders where they were taken to various concentration camps.

Jan. 18, 1945: Auschwitz was evacuated to Wodzislaw

Jan. 21, 1945: 4,000 Jews are evacuated from Hblechhammer

End of January: Stutthof is evacuated

Febuary 1945: Gross-Rosen and its sub-camps are evacuated and 20,000 Jews were mass murdered at Eulengebirge camps

April 6, 1945: Buchenwald camp evacuates around 50,000 prisoners

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Citations

"Death Marches." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 29 Jan. 2016. Web. 22 May 2016.

"Heinrich Himmler." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 29 Jan. 2016. Web. 22 May 2016.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Red Army." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 22 May 2016.

N.a. Death Marches. Place of Publication Not Identified: Book On Demand, 2013. The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Web.