Liberation of Auschwitz

U.S. #2981e from the “1945: Victory at Last” World War II sheet.  Click image to order. 

On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp, marking the beginning of the end of the Holocaust.

The  Nazis targeted European Jews and other ethnic groups, such as Gypsies, Poles, and Slavs, during World War II. Adolf Hitler considered these groups to be genetically inferior to his “Aryan” master race. Removing the Jews was one of the steps in Hitler’s plan for world domination.

U.S. #2981e – 1995 Liberation First Day Cover.  Click image to order. 

To facilitate this mass murder the Nazis built concentration camps. At first, these highly organized camps were used to terrorize and intimidate, but in 1941 when Hitler decided to murder all of the Jews, the camps became killing factories. About 2.5 million people were murdered at the concentration camp in Auschwitz, Poland, alone.

U.S. #UX168 – Holocaust Memorial Museum postcard with Silk cachet.  Click image to order. 

Witold Pilecki was the only person known to voluntarily be imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Pilecki was a Polish cavalry officer who saw heavy fighting at the outset of World War II. When the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east, the Polish resistance collapsed. Pilecki then helped found the “Secret Polish Army,” an underground resistance unit.   As news of the Auschwitz camp surfaced, he volunteered to investigate and allowed himself to be captured.

Israel #220-21 – Israel stamps honoring the survivors and victims of the Holocaust.  Click image to order. 

For two and a half years Pilecki organized resistance, fed information about the camp to the outside world, and wrote about the details of the camp. Pilecki helped create resistance cells and smuggled information out of the camp. But by 1943, he realized no help was coming. Pilecki decided to escape to give his report in person, and one night he and two other prisoners succeeded. Pilecki’s reports, however, were dismissed as unbelievable exaggerations, and neither the British nor the Russians would help.

Israel #841 – A 1983 souvenir sheet commemorating.  Click image to order. 

Then in mid-1944, about half of the 130,000 prisoners were moved to other camps. That November, the Soviet Red Army began approaching Auschwitz through Poland. Aware of their impending arrival, the camp’s Nazi organizers quickly began to dismantle the crematoriums and convert them into air raid shelters. They destroyed most written records and other evidence of what had occurred there, including many of the buildings. Another 58,000 Auschwitz detainees were evacuated on January 17.

United Nations #948 – UN stamp honoring International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Click image to order. 

Then, on January 27, 1945, the Soviets arrived and liberated the remaining 7,500 prisoners. Though the Nazis had destroyed much of the camp, the liberators were still shocked at what they found there, including the belongings of over a million people. By the end of the war approximately 6 million Jews, about two-thirds of all the Jews in Europe, had been killed by the Nazis. The total number of civilians killed by the Nazis is estimated to be at least 11 million.

Israel #523 was issued for Heroes and Martyrs Day.  Click image to order. 

Fifty years later, the United Nations named January 27 as “International Holocaust Remembrance Day,” to honor the victims of the Nazi era. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the Holocaust “a unique evil that cannot simply be consigned to the past and forgotten.”

Click here to visit the US Holocaust Museum Memorial’s website.

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  1. SAD. GRUESOME. DEPLORABLE. And yet, we in America are doing a similar thing today with the wanton murder of untold numbers of unborn babies. SAD. GRUESOME. DEPLORABLE. I visited Auschwitz when living in West Berlin during the Vietnam War, my Army assignment. It’s an indescribable experience to walk among and in the buildings there where that atrocity occurred.

  2. A dark chapter in the history of the human race. I had never read of Witold Pilecki previously. Thank you Mystic for sharing his story.

  3. Indeed a sad chapter in human history. Sadder still are the idiots today who persist in denying that it ever took place. History winds up repeating itself because we failed to pay attention the first time.

  4. Germans seem to be good people; I’ve known a number of them over the years when stationed in Germany with the Army. I’ve always wondered how could the German people have stood by when the holocaust was going on? Not all Germans knew of course, but quite a few did…how could this have happened? Similar thing today…millions of unwanted babies are killed each year and even though we protest, the Democratic Party platform (which hides killing babies by saying we have a right to choose), nothing is done, and, around half the American People vote for people who believe in killing babies…how can this happen? The right to choose? No one can tell me what I can do to my body? You got to be kidding me! Are we any better than the Nazis? We don’t even have the decency to kill babies painlessly. Can someone please explain all this? Scottie beam me up, there is no intelligent life down here.

  5. All this while N.Y. state passed this last week the most liberal abortion law in the country. While the majority of the legislature and Gov. Cuomo all congratulated each other. Sad, so sad. Hell bent.

  6. The biggest problem was that the British and the Americans thought that the reports
    were fabricated by the Soviets to hasten an invasion of mainland Europe in France to
    relieve the pressure on the Eastern Front. FDR and the State Department along with
    British Intelligence could not believe that Hitler would divert so much of his assets for
    that purpose. Why the Russians did not believe the reports is a mystery, because they
    would have pressed more for an Allied invasion of France.

    1. I am not understanding -please help my ignorance: “the Americans and British thought ‘the reports’ were fabricated by the Soviets…” vs “why the Soviets (Russians) did not believe ‘the reports’ is a mystery…” What reports are you referring to – what was the source of “the reports” that the Americans and British AND Russians did not believe? Please clarify and thanks for additional insight!

  7. What great replies on this horrendous chapter in history. As many times as I have read about this,
    I can’t stop reading every word. I also had never heard of Pilecki. It brought me to tears when I heard all the people clapping at Gov. Cuomo signing this into law. What did he do later that night, go to midnight Mass?

  8. I started to not say anything here, but a couple of comments prompted me to do so. I could not sit by and see comments that diminished the pain, suffering, and atrocities of the holocaust victims. Comparing abortion to the inhumanity the Jewish people suffered at the hands of these insane and satanic devils does them, their history, and the world a disservice. There can be no comparison os their inhumane treatment, and when they had nothing else to give, they were systematically murdered. We can never forget what happened, or allow their treatment to be diminished.

    1. No one is diminishing the holocaust…so don’t start that. The two can certainly be compared. Have you ever had a Doctor explain what they do when they perform an abortion? The needle going into skull, the cutting off of limbs, the fetus jerking back in pain. Sort of sounds like the plight of many during the holocaust. I just can’t see how someone can sign a bill into law strengthening abortion laws, and then go to Mass and ask for forgiveness. With people like that in the world…do you think it’s possible the holocaust can happen again?

      1. Dennis “With people like that in the world…do you think it’s possible the holocaust can happen again?”

        The Nazi’s were fascists. Fascism: a form of radical authoritarian ultra-nationalism. Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and they regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state. Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving national economic self-sufficiency through protectionist and interventionist economic policies. Fascist states pursued policies of social indoctrination through propaganda in education and state run media, and by removal of the free press.

        Sounds a lot like an orange skinned, blond wigged buffoon who spends most of his time on Twitter.

          1. To Charles T. Apparently, the plain truth hurts, so typical of people like you, start calling names.

  9. I agree with William. Right to choose or right to life. The Jewish people and others captured and killed during the holocaust had no right to anything but ultimate untold suffering and horrible deaths.

    1. What isn’t you don’t understand? Do you think the baby embraces being cut up and murdered just because the woman didn’t keep a golf ball held between her legs. If you can’t see that…you are stupid!

  10. The holocaust was all about destroying a race, because of who they were/are in order to elevate another group of people. This was done by one dictatorial man and his minions, who generated propaganda; and is happening in several countries around the world to one degree or another. Other countries chose to disbelieve the truth of the atrocities when it was brought to their attention. Targeted victims were not given the choice of life or death. Abortion is another matter, and have no objective parallels, and is not a partisan platform. The procedure is not forced on anyone because of their race/genetics, and all levels of society subscribe to it; either to avoid the consequence of a poor choice – misunderstood individual freedoms – convenience, or reasonable medical necessity.

  11. Thank you once again for elucidating history and stimulating discussion through philately. This was indeed a dark time in world history. One would think that this would help mankind realize of what evils man is capable. I toured Auschwitz about 18 months ago.. The horrors that occurred there are beyond imagination! Yet, around the world people are being killed and tortured. I hope that most people realize that the torture and genocide of the Eastern European Jews during The Holocaust could happen again to other groups in other parts of the world.. We must try to understand, respect, and learn from individuals of all cultures. Then, maybe, we can have a friendlier and more peaceful world!

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