Sachsenhausen concentration camp 1936 - 1945

Evacuation, death marches, liberation

In the beginning of 1945, approximately 80,000 men, women and children were imprisoned in Sachsenhausen concentration camp and its 100 sub-camps, 58,000 in Sachsenhausen itself. On the 1 of February, as the red army reached the river Oder, the camp commandant ordered the camp to prepare for evacuation. At this point prisoners seen as especially dangerous - mainly Soviet and British officers - as well as many of those that were not fit enough to march, were murdered in the industrial yard. Many prisoners were also murdered during the evacuation of sub-camps lying to the east of Sachsenhausen. In the coming weeks the SS moved thousands of prisoners from the western sub-camps to Mauthausen in Austria or Bergen-Belsen on the L√ľneberger Heide. At the same time many Jews en route from Auschwitz or newly transported from Hungary arrived in Sachsenhausen. The prisoners held in Berlin's sub-camps were only transported to Sachsenhausen shortly before its evacuation.

The evacuation of Sachsenhausen began in the early hours of 21 April 1945. 33,000 of the remaining 38,000 prisoners were split into groups of 500 and marched towards the north-west. Many prisoners died from the cold, physical exhaustion or were murdered by the SS. They marched along different routes all eventually reaching Wittstock. From the 23 April 1945, around 16,000 prisoners were held in a camp near to Belower Wald, this is now the museum of the death marches. The forest camp was disbanded on the 29 April 1945 and the prisoners continued by various means to an area between Parchim and Schwerin, where, after being deserted by their SS guards, they finally met units of the red army and the US army.

3,000 prisoners and medical staff had been left behind in Sachsenhausen and they were liberated on the 22 April 1945 by Soviet and Polish soldiers. Over the next few weeks at least 300 ex-prisoners died from the consequences of their previous imprisonment in Sachsenhausen. They were buried in six mass graves near to the camp's wall and the infirmary. The graves lay forgotten until they were uncovered in 1995 and given a more dignified burial.

More informations:

Sachsenhausen concentration camp 1936 - 1945
The ideal concentration camp
A concentration camp for the capital city of the "Reich"
Prisoner`s society
Forced labour
The victims
Evacuation, death marches, liberation