January 27, 1945, Soviet soldiers enter Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, the biggest concentration and extermination camp of the Third Reich. 7,000 of the camps survivors would be liberated from their grim ordeal on that day. But many, wouldn’t. Some ten days earlier, confronted with the Red Army’s advance, the SS evacuated 60,000 prisoners.
Tens of thousands would die on the death march. This year, visitors taking part in the anniversary of the camp’s liberation will be able to see an exhibition of photos and letters from those who were there on that day 65 years ago.
Between 1940 and 1945, the number of people deported to Auschwitz was staggering. 1.1 million, mostly Jews, would die – an appalling figure that still has an impact today. All of the horrors of Nazi Germany were concentrated in the camp. The gas chambers, ovens, the experiments of Dr Mengele.
Survivor of Auschwitz Jerzy Michnol said: “One time we were going to the bath and they checked us naked. And it depended on a pointing finger whether you were let through or declined. So it was a very upsetting moment, when your future depended on the pointing of an SS officer’s finger.”
Jerzy, who survived both the camp and the ‘Death March’ was 15-years-old in 1945. 65 years later, for survivors, the horrifying memories are still vivid.
euronews has a correspondent in Auschwitz and will have full coverage of the commemorations.