Liberation and Death Toll

Sep 6, 2021
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The Allied Forces continued to plow through the rest of Nazi Germany’s territories, and in time, won the war. The first major camp discovered by the Allied troops was Majdenek on July 1944. Some camps, however, were never liberated, but instead destroyed by the Germans in an attempt to hide evidence and prevent their atrocity from being written in history – one of the worst crimes of racism the world has ever seen. The most famous of the camps dubbed in history, Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviets in 1945. There were 7,600 prisoners present in the camp, most of them too weak and sick. The Germans had been forced to vacate the camp, and these prisoners were left behind, along with the victims’ belongings: 348,820 men's suits, 836,255 women's coats, and tens of thousands of pairs of shoes. The rest were liberated by Americans and the French the following months. To cover up their crimes, the Germans tried to empty the camps but Allied soldiers routinely stumbled upon thousands of dead bodies stacked up like cordwood. Those who lived were dubbed as living skeletons.

The British army also played a part in liberation, where they freed prisoners of Bergen-Belsen. There were reportedly 60,000 inmates and 13,000 unburied corpses. The following weeks claimed 10,000 more people, who succumbed to either typhus or malnutrition. A BBC war correspondent named Richard Dimblebly was present during the liberation; his report was so graphic that BBC refused to air it, and had only done so after he threatened to resign. In the report, he showed an acre of ground full of the dead and dying, which he claimed indistinguishable - the living lay with the dead, barely able to move. Babies have been born, but they were so tiny that life merely grazes them. A soldier, he recounts, was faced by a mother screaming for milk for her baby. Upon opening the bundle, the soldier realized that the baby has been dead for days. He recounts that Belsen was the most horrible days of his life – however a human being could have done such a crime fueled by mere racism and bigotry eludes him. 

The Allied forces, physicians, and volunteer relief workers worked hard to provide nourishment for the survivors, but plenty of them were too weak to digest food – some could not even take soup. Many of them could not be saved, succumbing to the effects of years of forced labor, malnutrition, and maltreatment. The liberated prisoners, too, had mixed reactions to their freedom. Many looked forward to being reunited with family, but most became troubled with survivor’s guilt; so many of friends and family have perished. 

According to most research, such as data from Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs, between five to six million Jews have perished leading to and including the aftermath of the Holocaust. The figure includes one million children, either gassed, shot, or died from starvation and disease. The Jews murdered represented a third of the world population of the Jewish race, and two-thirds of the European Jews. This is based on data at the beginning of the war, were there was an estimate of 9.7 million Jews thriving in Europe. Accurate data remains uncertain, however, which stems from the lack of reliable features. Many have fled border to border without proper papers, and accurate data from the perpetrators remain lacking. There also exists a debate on the inclusion of deaths cause by persecution months after liberation. It’s clear, however, that most Jews from areas claimed by Germany were dead by 1945. Poland’s Jewish population was almost obliterated, with 90% of them dead by the end of the war. All of the Polish Jews who survived only have due to escaping the Soviet zone before 1941. 

While the accuracy of data remains elusive, the accounts of witnesses, victims and liberators alike, is enough to recount the horrors committed by Nazi Germany. Though history is often thought to favor the side of the strongest, in this case, history has favored humanity. Nazi Germany, along with Adolf Hitler, has went down in history as evil, racist, bigoted – truly, forces of destruction.

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