Today marks an important and symbolic anniversary in European and global history: 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet army. Death, war and destruction have been a constant of human history; but the attempt to exterminate an entire people systematically demonstrated new levels of human-orchestrated horrors in the 20th century. The message of Auschwitz and the Holocaust has always been “never again”. We must heed those words and ensure that we put an international system in place that prevents the heinous acts of genocide and human destruction, and punish those responsible. The liberation of Auschwitz by an army and an ideology equally deplorable to fascism has always been one of history’s intrigues, but this anniversary must serve as a point in history not only to never be forgotten, but hopefully a marked turning point where we can point to a shameful and disgraceful event that, through remorse and remembrance, built the foundations for a better future without genocide and without human destruction.
Below is a short description and link to more information from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and other links.
January 2015 marks seventy years since the liberation of Auschwitz, the largest camp established by the Germans. A complex of camps, Auschwitz included a concentration camp, killing center, and forced-labor camps. It was located 37 miles west of Krakow (Cracow), near the prewar German-Polish border.
In mid-January 1945, as Soviet forces approached the Auschwitz camp complex, the SS began evacuating Auschwitz and its satellite camps. Nearly 60,000 prisoners were forced to march west from the Auschwitz camp system. Thousands had been killed in the camps in the days before these death marches began. Tens of thousands of prisoners, mostly Jews, were forced to march to the city of Wodzislaw in the western part of Upper Silesia. SS guards shot anyone who fell behind or could not continue. Prisoners also suffered from the cold weather, starvation, and exposure on these marches. More than 15,000 died during the death marches from Auschwitz. On January 27, 1945, the Soviet army entered Auschwitz and liberated more than 7,000 remaining prisoners, who were mostly ill and dying. It is estimated that at minimum 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz between 1940 and 1945; of these, at least 1.1 million were murdered.
Read more about Auschwitz and the Holocaust at: