The Soviets liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on January 27th 1945, arriving at Monowitz a day later. Soviet soldiers found just seven thousand emaciated prisoners alive when they entered the camp, all living in horrific conditions. The other 60,000 had left ten days earlier on a forced evacuation. At Monowitz-Buna, liberated the following day, only 800 of the camp's 20,00 inmates remained in the infirmary. Soldiers of the 100th Lwów Infantry Division had expected to find appalling conditions, but were unprepared for the horror that greeted them. Rumours of the camps had been circulating since June 1942, when news of them was first broadcast over the radio by the BBC.
There was abundant evidence of mass murder at Auschwitz. In their haste to leave, the SS had not completed their planned demolition of the gas chambers and crematoria. The retreating Germans had destroyed most of the warehouses in the camp, but in those remaining the Soviets found personal belongings of the victims. These included hundreds of thousands of men's suits, over 800,000 women's outfits, and more than 14,000 pounds of human hair.