Approximately 7,000 prisoners were found in KL Auschwitz-Birkenau at liberation – men, women and children. Several days earlier, the Germans had led over 50,000 prisoners out of the camp and its sub-camps deep into Third Reich territory.
Janina Stawowy of Brzeszcze witnessed one of the death marches.
– I remember how the Germans led the prisoners out of the camp. They didn’t take the people who couldn’t walk with them. I happened to be in the park in Brzeszcze when the prisoners were walking along the road by the mine. They were walking in those clogs, or in bare feet, in their camp uniforms. It was cold. It was January and cold. It was freezing. They would hold one another up if they had the strength, they were lagging behind. And the SSmen – I don’t know, every few metres, they followed on. And the people were walking slowly, slowly, they were trudging along in those wooden shoes. And by the side of the road, obviously, every so often there was a dead body. In Brzeszcze’s cemetery there is a grave of those who died here.