Soviets liberate Auschwitz
On this day, Soviet troops enter Auschwitz, Poland, freeing the survivors of the network of concentration camps—and finally revealing to the world the depth of the horrors perpetrated there.
Auschwitz was really a group of camps, designated I, II, and III. There were also 40 smaller "satellite" camps. It was at Auschwitz II, at Birkenau, established in October 1941, that the SS created a complex, monstrously orchestrated killing ground: 300 prison barracks; four "bathhouses" in which prisoners were gassed; corpse cellars; and cremating ovens. Thousands of prisoners were also used for medical experiments overseen and performed by the camp doctor, Josef Mengele, the "Angel of Death."
The Red Army had been advancing deeper into Poland since mid-January. Having liberated Warsaw and Krakow, Soviet troops headed for Auschwitz. In anticipation of the Soviet arrival, the German Gestapo began a murder spree in the camps, shooting sick prisoners and blowing up crematoria in a desperate attempt to destroy the evidence of their crimes. When the Red Army finally broke through, Soviet soldiers encountered 648 corpses and more than 7,000 starving camp survivors. There were also six storehouses filled with literally hundreds of thousands of women's dresses, men's suits, and shoes that the Germans did not have time to burn.
Audie Murphy wounded
On this day, the most decorated man of the war, American Lt. Audie Murphy, is wounded in France.
Born the son of Texas sharecroppers on June 20, 1924, Murphy served three years of active duty, beginning as a private, rising to the rank of staff sergeant, and finally winning a battlefield commission to 2nd lieutenant. He was wounded three times, fought in nine major campaigns across Europe, and was credited with killing 241 Germans. He won 37 medals and decorations, including the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star (with oak leaf cluster), the Legion of Merit, and the Croix de Guerre (with palm).
The battle that won Murphy the Medal of Honor, and which ended his active duty, occurred during the last stages of the Allied victory over the Germans in France. Murphy acted as cover for infantrymen during a last desperate German tank attack. Climbing atop an abandoned U.S. tank destroyer, he took control of its .50-caliber machine gun and killed 50 Germans, stopping the advance but suffering a leg wound in the process.
Upon returning to the States, Murphy was invited to Hollywood by Jimmy Cagney, who saw the war hero's picture on the cover of Life magazine. By 1950, Murphy won an acting contract with Universal Pictures. In his most famous role, he played himself in the monumentally successful To Hell and Back.
Perhaps as interesting as his film career was his public admission that he suffered severe depression from post traumatic stress syndrome, also called battle fatigue, and became addicted to sleeping pills as a result. This had long been a taboo subject for veterans. Murphy died in a plane crash while on a business trip in 1971. He was 46.
Taken from: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/soviets-liberate-auschwitz 26.01.2015
Taken from: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/audie-murphy-wounded 26.01.2015