On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops enter Auschwitz, Poland, freeing the survivors of the network of concentration camps—and finally revealing to the world the depth of the horrors perpetrated there.

Auschwitz was really a group of camps, designated I, II, and III. There were also 40 smaller “satellite” camps. It was at Auschwitz II, at Birkenau, established in October 1941, that the SS created a complex, monstrously orchestrated killing ground: 300 prison barracks; four “bathhouses” in which prisoners were gassed; corpse cellars; and cremating ovens. Thousands of prisoners were also used for medical experiments overseen and performed by the camp doctor, Josef Mengele, the “Angel of Death.”

Listen to HISTORY This Week Podcast: Episode 4: January 27, 1945 Surviving Auschwitz

The Red Army had been advancing deeper into Poland since mid-January. Having liberated Warsaw and Krakow, Soviet troops headed for Auschwitz. In anticipation of the Soviet arrival, the German Gestapo began a murder spree in the camps, shooting sick prisoners and blowing up crematoria in a desperate attempt to destroy the evidence of their crimes. When the Red Army finally broke through, Soviet soldiers encountered 648 corpses and more than 7,000 starving camp survivors. There were also six storehouses filled with hundreds of thousands of women’s dresses, men's suits and shoes that the Germans did not have time to burn.

Watch the HISTORY special, Auschwitz Untold, online or in the HISTORY App now.

READ MORE:

The Shocking Liberation of Auschwitz: Soviets ‘Knew Nothing’ as They Approached

Auschwitz Survivors Recall Harrowing and Heroic Moments From the Death Camps

Horrors of Auschwitz: The Numbers Behind WWII's Deadliest Concentration Camp

This Midwife at Auschwitz Delivered 3,000 Babies in Unfathomable Conditions

The Jewish Men Forced to Help Run Auschwitz

How the Nazis Tried to Cover Up Their Crimes at Auschwitz

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