University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • Liberation & Rescue

    Liberation & Rescue

    On April 30,1945, the Soviet Army liberated Ravensbrück, after the Red Cross had rescued thousands of prisoners in March and April, and the Nazis had sent all those who could walk on a death march on April 2728.

    photo of prisoners

    Photo of prisoners during the last days of the camp. In "Ich grüsse Euch als freier Mensch" edited by Sigrid Jacobeit. MGR/SBG.

    prisoners rescued

    Ravensbrück prisoners rescued by the Swedish Red Cross on their way to Sweden. From exhibit, "Ich grüsse Euch cis freier Mensch," 1995, MGR/SBG.

    The Soviet Army found only about 3,000 extremely ill women in Ravensbrück, because the Nazis had sent the other remaining women on a death march. Count Folke Bernadotte, vice president of the Swedish Red Cross, had convinced Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler to allow the International Red Cross to rescue some prisoners from Ravensbrück and other camps and bring them to Sweden, The Swedish Red Cross was first allowed to rescue Scandinavians on March 5, followed by women from France, Poland, and the Benelux countries.

    Through the intervention of the Swedish section of the World Jewish Congress, Bernadotte requested that Jewish prisoners also be sent to Sweden. Himmler agreed, and between April 22 and April 28, about 7,500 womenan estimated 1,000 of them Jewishwere liberated from Ravensbrück. They were rescued in the famous Red Cross "White Buses;" by trucks, or trains. They were then ferried from Copenhagen to Malmö in neutral Sweden, Once there, they received clothing, food, and medical attention and were then sent to recuperate in different locations. Afterward, most of the nonJewish women returned to their homelands. The Jewish women sought out surviving family members in their former homelands, but most immigrated to Israel or the Americas, and some settled in Sweden.

    sali solomon

    Photo of Sali Solomon, a Jewish child  survivor of Ravensbrück, in Gothenberg, Sweden after liberation  by the Red Cross, Source and date  unknown. Given to Julia Terwilliger by Sall Solomon Daugherty. Gift of Bert Alan Terwilliger to Florida Holocaust Museum, 1999.

    count folke bernadotte

    Photo of Count Folke n Bernadotte from 1945. Source unknown, Given to Julia Terwilliger by Sall Solomon Daugherty. Gift of Bert Alan Terwilliger to Florida Holocaust Museum, 1999.

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