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January 27, 1945. Auschwitz: Liberation and Death March

January 27, 1945:  The liberation day of the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz is now an international Holocaust memorial day.  Most prisoners experienced the liberation of the death march. 

In the following video three witnesses report how they experienced the death march from Auschwitz to the west and what the memorial day January 27 means to them. The video is in English, German and Italian with German subtitles.

January 27, 1945: Auschwitz: Liberation and Death March, excerpts from video interviews with three Jewish concentration camp prisoners, Paul S. (from Vienna/Paris), Henry G. (from Hungary/USA) and Liliana S. (from Milan/Italy), Archive “Forced Labor 1939-1945”, language: English, German and Italian with German subtitles, duration: 5:45 minutes, cut: Tobias Kilgus, Alexandra Neumann, © Freie Universität Berlin 2011

January 27, 1945

On January 27, 1945 the Red Army reached the concentration camp Auschwitz and freed around 7,000 seriously ill survivors. All of the prisoners able to march had previously been led away to the west by SS guards. The majority of the prisoners therefore did not experience the liberation of the camp, but rather were already on a cruel death march declared as an evacuation. On the march many lost their lives and were often shot. The lines passed through villages and cities where the marchers died right before the eyes of the population.

Auschwitz stands symbolically for the mass murder of European Jews and the suffering of millions of other people who were persecuted and killed by the Nazi Regime.  Between 1940 and 1945, the National Socialists murdered a total of around 1,1 million people in Auschwitz and nearby Birkenau. In Germany the 27th of January has been a memorial day for the victims of National Socialism since 1996, and worldwide since 2005.

Biographical Data

Paul S., Jewish Auschwitz Survivor from Vienna/Paris

  • 1924 Born in Vienna
  • 1940 Flees with entire family to France
  • 1941 Admitted into the family camp Agde in Southern France, separated from father
  • 1943 Separated from mother and sister, deportation to Auschwitz
  • 1943-1945 Work in the metal factory Siemens-Schukert in Bobrek
  • 1945 Evacuation of Auschwitz through a death march heading west, flees from a moving coal wagon, returns to France
  • 1948 Marries
  • From 1956 Founds a company that processes plastics in Soisson near Paris
  • 2002 Memoir “Le soleil voile” is published, he has already appeared as a witness in schools for a long time
  • Interview za409 »
  • Length: 2 hours 41 minutes, Date: September 13, 2006, Language: German

Henry G., Jewish Auschwitz survivor from Hungary/USA

  • 1930 Born in Chust  (Czechslovakia, from 1939 Hungary, from 1945 Ukraine)
  • 1944 Deportation to Auschwitz, separated from his family
  • 1944-1945 Works on an extension of the IG-Farben Buna factory and as a brick layer for SS buildings
  • 1945 Death march from Auschwitz over Gleiwitz to Buchenwald
  • 1948 Emigrates to Israel, marries and works as an electrician
  • 1958 Divorce, emigrates to the US, works as a real estate broker

Liliana S., Jewish Auschwitz survivor from Milan

  • 1930 Born in Milan
  • 1943 Arrested while trying to flee to Switzerland, deportation to Auschwitz, separated from her family
  • Until 1945 Works at an ammunition factory union near Auschwitz
  • 1945 Death march to the concentration camp Ravensbrück, continued to Malchow, return to Milan and a renewed enrollment in school
  • 1951 Marries, 3 children