27 January – International Holocaust Remembrance Day

On 1 November 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated 27 January – the date of the anniversary of the liberation of the camp KL Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The International Holocaust Remembrance Day was established with the aim to honor the memory of the Jewish victims murdered during the Second World War by German Nazis.

On 27 January 2020 at the grounds of  Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, the commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz will take place.

In the spring 1940, in the suburbs of Oswiecim, the concentration camp KL Auschwitz was established. In 1943 KL Auschwitz was divided into three camps : Auschwitz I – Main Camp, Auschwitz II – Birkenau and Auschwitz III – Monowitz, which served as the headquarters of camp Buna and sub-camps created near industrial facilities in Silesia and Małopolska. In 1944 KL Auschwitz II – Birkenau has become the largest center of the extermination of Jews. The extermination was carried out with the use of Zyklon B – pesticide consisting of diatomaceous earth and hydrogen cyanide, which after being removed from sealed containers, released highly poisonous chemical compound.

During the operation of the camp German Nazis deported around 1,1 million Jews, 150 thousand Poles, 23 thousand Roma, 15 thousand Soviet POWs and several thousand prisoners of other nationalities. The majority of them was murdered.

In the second half of 1944 Germans initiated a procedure of covering their tracks and removing evidence of the committed crimes. Among the destroyed documents were files and lists of prisoners. Germans also began burning the lists of names of Jews deported to die in Auschwitz. In mid-January 1945, Germans commenced the final evacuation and liquidation of the camp. From 17 to 21 January 1945, approximately 56 000 prisoners were marched out of Auschwitz and its sub-camps in evacuation columns, mostly heading west, through Upper and Lower Silesia. On  20 January 1945 the crematorium buildings: II and III were blown up, while the crematorium V, which still fully operational, was blown up on 26 January.

On 27 January 1945, the Red Army entered the area of Oświęcim. Before midday soldiers of the 60th Army of the First Ukrainian Front entered the eastern part of Oświęcim, where the sub-camp Monowitz was located. At approximately 3 PM they took over the grounds of the Main Camp Auschwitz I and camp Auschwitz II – Birkenau, although in the former they were met with resistance of the retreating German troops. About 7 thousand prisoners awaited liberation in the Main Camp, Birkenau, and Monowitz, the majority of them were sick and exhausted.

4 February 2020