KL Stutthof - Death March 25/01/1945
On January 25, at 5:00 am, the commandant of the German concentration camp Stutthof ordered the evacuation of some prisoners. The order also stated that in the case of escape attempts, as in the event of inability to continue the march or its delay, firearms should be used.
An hour before the order was given, the assembled prisoners were selected and the first columns of evacuated prisoners began to form. In extreme conditions of January frost, with temperatures reaching -20 degrees and in snow, the first prisoner columns began to leave the camp. A column of 700 to 1,600 prisoners was escorted by about 40 SS men and the column numbering about 9,00 female prisoners - by 15 SS men and female overseers.
On January 25 and 26, around 11,500 out of 23,984 prisoners detained in the main camp marched from the Stutthof camp towards Lębork, which was the target of the evacuation. According to the assumptions, the columns were to cover about 20-30 km a day and reach their destination on February 1, 1945. As a result, none of the columns reached their destination. The march was delayed due to the retreating Wehrmacht troops. The marches were also often held at night. Eventually, the evacuated columns reached the so-called evacuation camps in the following towns: Gęś, Krępa Kaszubska, Tawęcino,Rybno, Nawicz, Łówcz, Gniewino, Toliszek until February 1.
Of the 11,500 prisoners, around 2,000 made an escape attempt, and around 2,000 were killed or died from frost, starvation or disease.
It was the first part of the evacuation of the main camp, as there were about 12,000 prisoners left in the camp, and thousands in the still functioning sub-camps.