27 January 1945 – 75 years ago the Auschwitz death camp was liberated

25. Januar 2020

On 27 January 1945, the 60th Army of the First Ukrainian Front whose Commander-in-Chief was Marshal I.S. Konev, succeeded in liberating the Auschwitz extermination camp.

Auschwitz stands until today as a symbol for the incomprehensible monstrosity of the fascist extermination policy. Between the summer of 1940 and January 1945, more than 1.3 million people from all over Europe, Jews, Sinti and Roma, political opponents, and other marginalized persons were deported to the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp. At least 1.1 million were murdered in the gas chambers, by shooting or by “extermination through work” for the IG Farben Company and other armament factories.

In the morning of January 27, 1945, the 322nd Infantry Division of the 60th Army of the First Ukrainian Front under the supreme command of Colonel General Pavel A. Kurochkin first reached the main camp at Monowitz. Units of the Waffen-SS and the Wehrmacht still offered bitter military resistance, so that more than 230 Soviet soldiers lost their lives during the liberation of Auschwitz. During the day, Red Army soldiers advanced to Auschwitz and Birkenau.

In the main camp, in Birkenau and Monowitz, they encountered only about 7,000 prisoners. Even in the first days after liberation, numerous prisoners died of exhaustion. Among the liberated were more than 200 children up to the age of 15, mostly twins, who were intended as test subjects for SS doctors. On the site itself, the Soviet soldiers found about 600 dead camp inmates, who had been shot by SS men just before their departure.

The survivors of Auschwitz formulated in a message at the beginning of March 1945: “We, the rescued former prisoners, owe our rescue to the brave Red Army and ask the international public and their governments to take note of this and to express our gratitude on our behalf.

For more than a decade, January 27 has been commemorated worldwide as an International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Holocaust, following a decision by the United Nations.

The FIR and its member federations will never forget the victims of the extermination policy and remind at the same time the liberation achievements of the fighters of the Red Army as part of the anti-Hitler coalition – especially not on 27 January 2020.