Soviet troops continued their advance across Poland heading for the German border. By mid January it became clear that the Germans would not be able to stop the Soviet advance before it reached Auschwitz so the Germans began to evacuate the prisoners. They began a march that quickly became a death march from Auschwitz to Wodzislaw in the western part of Upper Silesia. 60,000 prisoners began the march in the bitter cold Polish winter. Approximately 15,000 died along the way. The Germans shot anyone who fell behind.
The Germans killed most of those left behind at Auschwitz, but when the Soviets arrived on January 27th to find 7,000 weak and often dying prisoners. Most were found in Birkenau the death camp while a smaller number were in the main work camps.
The Soviets freed the prisoners. Those who survived were on their own to find their way home or to new lives.