On This Day in Jewish History: April 26, 1945

On this day, April 26, 1945, death marches from Dachau began.. The march from Dachau towards the Austrian border was part of a large effort by the Nazis to disguise the crimes they had committed in the Holocaust. Prisoners were forced to march in terrible conditions with little to no food, water or rest. Those who were injured were shot on the road.

Just 3 days before the liberation of Dachau, SS officers forced at least 25,000 prisoners to march from Dachau and its subcamps to Tegernsee, near the Austrian border. The march lasted until the day of the German surrender, and many of the victims died of exhaustion along the way. On April 29, 1945, American troops liberated Dachau, and a few days later in May rescued the survivors that were marched to Tegernsee.

There are no exact numbers for how many people died in the death march from Dachau specifically, but it is estimated that 200,000-250,000 people died in all of the death marches combined, with 25% to one-third of them being Jews.

Throughout the death marches, thousands more died despite being so close to liberation. Today, 22 identical monuments mark the route of the death march from Dachau, and the memorial continues to preserve stories and witness accounts of the marches. May the memory of those lost be a blessing.