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Communal cemetery in Brzeszcze

In the second half of 1944, on account of an imminent Red Army offensive, the SS authorities began a gradual evacuation of prisoners from KL Auschwitz and deported them into the Third Reich’s interior.

An order for the total evacuation of the camp was issued in 1945. From 17th to 21st January SS guards led approximately 56,000 male and female prisoners from KL Auschwitz and its sub-camps and forced them to march down various roads to Gliwice and Wodzisław Śląski some 60 km away. From there they were transported by train to concentration camps in the German interior.

Around 25 thousand male and female prisoners passed through the main street of Brzeszcze. Some of them were unable to endure the hardships of this march and died either of exhaustion or were shot by escorting SS guards.

On 19th January, when last prisoner evacuation column had passed, the German mayor of Brzeszcze ordered the inhabitants to bury the bodies. They collected 18 corpses on the stretch of road from Rajsko to Jawiszowice and buried them in a common grave in the local cemetery.