Skip to main content

Timeline of Events

Evacuation of Prisoners from Sachsenhausen

April 20, 1945

SS camp guards begin the forced evacuation on foot of 33,000 prisoners from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp to the northwest during the night of April 20–21, 1945.

The first groups to depart received minimal food rations; those who departed later received no food at all. On the route, SS escort guards shot prisoners who were unable to keep up. The various groups that were marched out of Sachsenhausen became increasingly disorganized as the Allied troops neared. Eventually, the structure of the groups disintegrated: guards fled and prisoners had more opportunities to separate from the main group and escape. In the two weeks following the start of the marches, US troops liberated surviving prisoners of the forced evacuations near the town of Schwerin, Germany. Soviet troops liberated other groups of  prisoners evacuated from Sachsenhausen near Zechlin, Germany.

On April 22, units of the First and 47th Polish Armies, operating under overall Soviet command, liberated about 3,000 remaining inmates in the camp.