The Library’s new exhibition will uncover how forensic and other evidence about the death marches has been gathered since the end of the Holocaust. It chronicles how researchers and others attempted to recover the death march routes – and those who did not survive them. Efforts to analyse and commemorate the death marches continue to this day.
Towards the end of the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of prisoners still held within the Nazi camp system were forcibly evacuated in terrible conditions under heavy guard. Prisoners were sent out on foot, by rail, in horse-drawn wagons, in lorries and by ship. Conveys split, dispersed and rejoined others, with routes stretching from several dozen to hundreds of miles long. Thousands of people were murdered en route in the last days before the war’s end, although it is impossible to know the exact numbers.
Many of these chaotic and brutal evacuations became known as ‘death marches’ by those who endured them. They form the last chapter of Nazi genocide.
You can now explore over sixty eyewitness accounts of those who experienced and survived the Nazi death marches on the Library’s new digital resource, Testifying to the Truth.
Eugene Black in focus:
Eugene Black (formerly Jeno Schwartz, 1928-2016) was a Jewish teenager when he was deported from Hungary to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. There he was separated from his family, whom he never saw again. From Auschwitz, he was sent to Buchenwald and then Mittelbau-Dora camps, where he worked in an underground factory that manufactured rockets in brutal conditions. In March 1945, Eugene was marched to Nordhausen. He then spent seven days on a train travelling in the direction of Hamburg.
Eugene remembered that ‘the train would pull up, the doors would open, and we had to throw the dead bodies out.‘ The train stopped at Celle, and the prisoners were forced to march to Bergen-Belsen. The SS guards shot anyone who stopped walking. Eugene arrived in Bergen-Belsen with the remaining prisoners who survived the ordeal and was liberated in April 1945.
Video courtesy of the Holocaust Exhibition & Learning Centre. Visit their website to learn more about Eugene Black’s experiences during the Holocaust and his life after the Second World War.
Virtual Talk: Iby and Trude: The Death Marches and Me. Thursday 8 April, 7-8pm.
Virtual Exhibition Launch: Death Marches: Evidence and Memory. Thursday 5 March.
This exhibition is part of the new Holocaust and Genocide Research Partnership.
Death Marches: Evidence and Memory will be launched at the Holocaust Exhibition & Learning Centre in Huddersfield in February 2021. The exhibitions are dedicated to the memory of Lilian Black OBE.