Evacuation of the camp

Evacuation of the camp
Crematorium – postwar photo by Hilda Lepetit

Until the end the SS tried by all available means to prevent the liberation of surviving concentration camp prisoners by the Allied forces.

The advance of the Soviet army led to Himmler’s order to evacuate all camps at the approach of enemy troops and to transfer the prisoners to other concentration camps situated further to the West. During forced evacuation marches, in transport trains which didn’t arrive at their destinations for days and in overflowing reception camps ten thousands of concentration camp prisoners lost their lives.

As of end of March 1945 the preparations to evacuate the concentration camp started. Plans to drive the prisoners into the “Quarz” tunnels and to murder them by blowing the tunnels up were not carried out. Between 11th and 15th April 1945 the remaining 7.401 surviving prisoners of Melk concentration camp were transferred to the main camp of Mauthausen and the satellite camp of Ebensee. In the camp in Melk at least 30 seriously ill prisoners who were not fit for transport were murdered by members of the SS and prisoner functionaries shortly before the shutdown of the camp. At least 36 other prisoners lost their lives during the evacuation transports. With the liberation of the concentration camps of Ebensee und Mauthausen by American troops on 5th and 6th May the survivors of Melk concentration camp were also liberated.

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