Q – Quick Run! – March of the Jews

Prisoners on a death march from Dachau Concentration Camp

The downfall of Nazism became more of a reality in 1944.  The Soviets were responsible for being the first to take down Nazi death camps in Poland.  This prompted Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the German SS, to begin evacuating concentration camps.  Some of the damage was already done; the Soviets began flooding the international media with pictures of the conditions and testimonies from the survivors.

Himmler had several reasons for pushing the evacuations.  First, Himmler needed the Jews for production of supplies.  Second, Himmler didn’t want the world to know about what he had done to the Jews.  Lastly, the oddest of his reasons, Himmler thought he could use the Jews as colateral for blackmail, in order to somehow negotiate the survival of the Nazi government.

Map of prisoner evacuation routes from Auschwitz

The Jews faced a rough voyage leaving their concentration camps.  The Germans used railcars in many cases to transport the Jews over long distances.  Death marching was the other mode of transportation frequented by the Jews.  The Nazis ordered their already-abused prisoners to march for miles.  Not only were the imprisoned in terrible physical condition, but in many cases they did not have proper attire for the weather.  The winter of 1944-1945 was the worst, people died en masse from exhaustion and exposure to the cold. The Jews not surprisingly coined the term death march, because they felt the Nazis were going to keep making them walk until they died.  In fact, the SS also had strict orders to shoot anyone on sight whom they deemed unfit for marching further.  Thousands of people were tortured.