On the way to Auschwitz

Jewish mothers and their children walk to the gas chambers at Birkenau. This was taken mid-1944, when the extermination process had been ramped up to full speed. Did these people know that death waited at the end of their walk? By 1944, the adults, at least, must have known. Even had they heard no rumors, the air itself must have been thick with the stink of burning flesh.