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Soldiers of the 60th Army of the First Ukrainian Front opened the gates of Auschwitz Concentration Camp on January 27, 1945. The prisoners greeted them as authentic liberators. It was a paradox of history that soldiers formally representing Stalinist totalitarianism brought freedom to the prisoners of Nazi totalitarianism.
The Red Army obtained detailed information about Auschwitz only after the liberation of Cracow, and was therefore unable to reach the gates of Auschwitz before January 27, 1945.
About 7 thousand prisoners awaited liberation in the Main Camp, Birkenau, and Monowitz. Before and soon after January 27, Soviet soldiers liberated about 500 prisoners in the Auschwitz sub-camps in Stara Kuźnia, Blachownia Śląska, Świętochłowice, Wesoła, Libiąż, Jawiszowice, and Jaworzno.
Over 230 Soviet soldiers, including the commander of the 472nd regiment, Col. Siemen Lvovich Besprozvanny, died in combat while liberating the Main Camp, Birkenau, Monowitz, and the city of Oświęcim. The majority of them are buried at the municipal cemetery in Oświęcim.
In the Main Camp and Birkenau, Soviet soldiers discovered the corpses of about 600 prisoners who had been shot by the withdrawing SS or who had succumbed to exhaustion.