In January 1945, the Third Reich stood on the verge of military defeat. As Allied forces approached Nazi camps, the SS organized death marches of concentration camp inmates, in part to keep large numbers of concentration camp prisoners from falling into Allied hands. The term "death march" was probably coined by concentration camp prisoners. It referred to forced marches of concentration camp prisoners over long distances under heavy guard and extremely harsh conditions. During death marches, SS guards brutally mistreated the prisoners and killed many. The largest death marches were launched from Auschwitz and Stutthof.
US Holocaust Memorial Museum