On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp complex in German-occupied Poland. Russian soldiers discovered thousands of sick, dying, and dead prisoners when they entered the complex of concentration camps, forced labor camps, and a killing center abandoned by the Nazis. The Schutzstaffel (SS), Hitler's paramilitary organization, had attempted to destroy the camp before fleeing and forcing 60,000 prisoners on a westward "death march." Their efforts did little to conceal abundant evidence of mass murder and other atrocities that claimed the lives of more than 1.1 million prisoners.
Auschwitz was the largest camp created by Nazi Germany and its collaborators to imprison and murder people they perceived as a "racial" or political threat, especially European Jews. By the end of World War II, the Holocaust had claimed the lives of over 6 million Jewish people—nearly two out of every three in Europe.
More resources on Holocaust Remembrance Day and International Holocaust Remembrance Day from the National Archives.