End of the war

Faced with the advancing Allied forces, Heinrich Himmler gave the order to evacuate the concentration camps in the spring of 1945. No prisoner was to be allowed to fall into the hands of the Allies alive, all traces of the crimes were to be obliterated. Most of the files were also destroyed. Shortly before the end of the war, the National Socialists sent hundreds of thousands of exhausted and starving prisoners on long evacuation marches, the so-called death marches. Anyone who could not go on was immediately shot and buried at the roadside.

The SS had to evacuate many concentration camps in a hurry. Prisoners who were too weak to march were murdered a few days before liberation. Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, from where the last transports left, resembled a mass grave filled to overflowing, in which hunger and disease raged.

Like 17-year-old Anton Reinhardt, Sinti and Roma became the victims of fanatical National Socialists just before the end of the war. Many others died from the effects of their imprisonment in concentration camps soon after their liberation. There was also no real liberation for the few survivors. They suffer from the long-term health effects and the recurring memories to this day.

"We were on the so-called death march for four weeks. Anyone who could not go on was shot in the neck on the spot - the whole route was strewn with dead.
Just before Schwerin, we were liberated by the Americans at last. They immediately gave us food parcels. Many became ill through eating too quickly and died as the result of their emaciation."
(Bruno Habedank)