From evacuation to liberation: the Nazi camps

From evacuation to liberation: the Nazi camps

PARIS - Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, ageing survivors gathered at the site synonymous with the Holocaust on Tuesday - also International Holocaust Remembrance Day - as world leaders called attention to rising incidents of anti-Semitism.

The liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camps came as World War II drew to a close, as allied forces advanced on Berlin - the Soviet Red Army from the east and the Americans and other allies from the west.

There is, however, a distinction between the actual "liberation" of the camps and the "evacuations", a complex process under which in the last year of World War II the Nazis transferred prisoners from camp to camp in what is know as the "death marches" in a bid to cover up their atrocities.

A timeline:

- 1944 -

- July 24: The Majdanek camp near the eastern Polish city of Lublin becomes the first camp to be liberated, by the Soviet army. A few days earlier the Nazis had evacuated most of its prisoners to Auschwitz.

- September 2: The evacuation starts at Natzweiler-Struthof-Alsace, the only concentration camp on what is today French soil. Its inmates are transferred to the Dachau camp in Germany.

- November 23: Liberation of Natzweiler-Struthof-Alsace by the American army.

- 1945 -

- January 20: The liberation of Plaszow camp in the suburbs of Krakow, Poland, by the Red Army. Earlier in the month the prisoners had been evacuated to Auschwitz.

- January 17-19: Some 60,000 prisoners are evacuated from Auschwitz and annexed camps near to Krakow.

- January 25: The evacuation of Stutthof, 35 kilometres from Gdansk, which was known as Danzig.

- January 27: The liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Red Army. Only 7,000 inmates are still at the site, unable to walk.

- February 28: The liberation of Gross-Rosen, in present-day Poland, by the Red Army.

- April 4: The evacuation starts of Buchenwald camp near to Weimar in Germany. One of the biggest concentration camps, thousands of prisoners from Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen had been transferred there.

- April 11: The clandestine resistance at Buchenwald, run by the German communists, takes control of the camp several hours before the arrival of American tanks. Liberation at the same time at nearby Dora camp by American troops.

- April 15: The liberation of Bergen-Belsen in north-western Germany by the British army.

- April 22-23: The liberation of Sachsenhausen to the north of Berlin by the Red Army.

- April 23: Liberation of Flossenbuerg camp in Bavaria by American troops.

- April 23: Start of the evacuation of Ravensbrueck, 80 kilometres to the north of Berlin.

- April 29: Liberation by the Americans of Dachau near Munich, the first concentration camp opened in 1933 by the Nazis.

April 30: The liberation of Ravensbrueck - a camp reserved mainly for women - by the Red Army

- May 5: The liberation of Mauthausen, Austria, one of the biggest work camps, by the American army.

- May 5: Liberation of the Neuengamme camp near Hamburg in Germany by British troops. The camp is empty and the traces of atrocities covered up.

- May 6: Liberation of the camp of Ebensee, an annex of Mauthausen, by the American army.

May 8-9: The liberation of Theresienstadt in today's Czech Republic by the Red Army. On May 3 control of the camp had been transferred to the Red Cross.

May 8-9: Germany capitulates unconditionally and the war in Europe ends.

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