Today, Friday 9th May 2014, marks the 69th anniversary of the liberation of Stutthof concentration camp.
Soviet forces arrived at the camp on this day in 1945, liberating some 100 prisoners who had hidden during the final evacuations of the camp. As early as January, initial evacuations took place, later followed by larger volumes of inmates from the Stutthof camp system that headed toward the sea - the location, by Danzig, was completely surrounded by Soviet forces. Around 50,000 inmates were involved in the evacuations, many of whom were driven into the waters off the Baltic Sea coast and machine gunned. The remaining inmates were marched toward eastern Germany but were intercepted by Soviet forces, forcing the Germans to drive the inmates back to the main camp. The poor weather and harsh treatment by the SS guards led to many prisoner deaths on the forced marches. Around 4,000 Stutthof inmates were transported via boat to Neuengamme and other camps located along the coast during April 1945. During these final evacuations, many inmates drowned. The total deaths among those evacuated from the Stutthof camps rose to over 25,000 - more than 50% of the evacuated inmates. In total, of the near 100,000 likely deported to KZ-Stutthof throughout its existence, over 60,000 people died in the camp. Typhus epidemics claimed many lives during the winter of 1942 and again in 1944, as did the gas chamber that was operational from spring 1944 onward.