On this day, 285 men reached Buchenwald from the Gross-Strehlitz penitentiary in Silesia after its clearance. In many cases, their relatives had had no sign of life from them for years. The German occupiers had deported them in “night and fog”, as it was called in Nazi jargon.
The “Night and Fog” decree of 1941 allowed the abduction of members of the resistance from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway to Germany in such a way that they vanished without a trace. Their families were left in the dark about their fates. All information, all contact was prohibited. The ensuing sense of uncertainty was intended to deter people from engaging in further resistance activities.
Three quarters of the prisoners from Gross-Strehlitz were Belgians. They had been en route for more than ten days, initially on foot and later by train. Only few of them were still in Buchenwald at the time of its liberation. The SS had sent the majority off on a death march shortly beforehand – destination: Terezín.