Death Marches – Buchenwald

death-marchApril 4, 1945 saw the first liberation of a Nazi camp by American troops. This was Ohrdruf, a small sub-camp of Buchenwald. As with many other camps in Nazi-occupied Europe, prisoners were evacuated from Buchenwald and forced onto a so-called death march. These ‘death marches’ were not intended to kill prisoners, as the name perhaps suggests, but were a way of moving prisoners who could still be used to forced labour deeper into Nazi-occupied territory.

Those who could not keep up were shot on the way; many simply collapsed and died of exhaustion and malnutrition along the way.On 6 April, evacuation of the main camp at Buchenwald began. Approximately 3,100 began the long, gruelling march out of Buchenwald, and around 1,400 of these were murdered along the route. Over the course of the next four days, around 40,000 prisoners were taken out of Buchenwald and sent on marches; around 13,500 of these did not survive the march. Just over 20,000 prisoners were left at Buchenwald when the Americans arrived.

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