Holocaust Death Marches
By Maxwell Adelman
The evacuations had three purposes:
- The SS didn't want the prisoners to be able to tell the Allies of the atrocities they had to live through
- The SS believed that they needed prisoners to maintain their production of weapons everywhere
- Some of the SS, Heinrich Himmler included, believed that they could use the prisoners as bargaining chips to guarantee the survival of the Nazi regime.
The evacuations could not all be carried out by train, because many of the outer camps had no trains attached to them. Therefore, the Germans had to evacuate the majority of the prisoners on foot.
Over 100,000 prisoners were forced into all the death marches combined. The soldiers had explicit orders to shoot anyone too weak to walk. Because of this, along with several other things, the death rate was often more than 50%, and sometimes only one in ten prisoners would survive.