David Thompson wrote:Karl -- You asked:Why were the 60,000 marched off?
If there was a written order or other official explanation stating the reason for the evacuation, I haven't seen it. Without any official stated reasons, we can only guess why the 60,000 prisoners were marched off.
You also asked:Since we don't have the evacuation order, we don't know what its terms were, or what explanation may have been made.Why were there still 7,000 left inside?
At pp. 781-805 of Danuta Czech's book Auschwitz Chronicles, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., London: 1990, there is a detailed chronology of the evacuation. Here is a very short version of the facts which pertain to your questions:
The evacuation appears to have been very disorderly. It started with a Red Army advance on Cracow that caught the Germans by surprise. At noon on 17 Jan 1945 Gouvernor-General Dr. jur. Hans Frank, the head of the Nazi occupation government of Poland, held a meeting in Cracow in which he declared that the city had been German since the earliest times and surrender was unthinkable. Two hours later Dr. Frank, his retinue and a convoy of loot left Cracow for Silesia.
As Dr. Frank's flight became known, the Germans in the area started to panic. In the early afternoon of 17 Jan, KL Auschwitz commandant Richard Baer personally chose the leaders of the evacuation columns, and told the SS guards to kill stragglers and anyone attempting to escape. The evacuations from satellite camps began as early as 4 PM on 17 Jan.
During the night of 17-18 Jan 1945, camp administrators burned a number of records. At Monowitz, the Germans told the prisoner-doctors to carefully examine the health conditions of the sick and to remove the names of all those able to march from the hospital records. The prisoner-doctors were told that only the seriously ill could remain behind, under the supervision of doctors who were themselves ill and unable to march.
On 20 Jan 1945 SS-Obergruppenf?hrer und General der Waffen-SS und Polizei Ernst Heinrich Schmauser, Senior SS and Police Commander ?Southeast? (HSSPF ?Suedost?) at Breslau, ordered SS-Sturmbannfuehrer Franz Xaver Kraus to kill all prisoners who were unable to march. Certainly, the SS did kill some of the prisoners remaining at the camps. By that point, however, most of the guard personnel had already left, and there were reports of SS men looting civilian clothes from the depot at the "Canada" facility to wear under their uniforms. As the SS guards fled, armed bands of Organization Todt members, local self-defense units, and Waffen-SS detachments remained in the area. For the most part these German forces appear to have been concerned with defending the area against the Red Army than with executing prisoners.
This is borne out by Hoess' testimony at the IMT on 15 April, 1946:
Q: Did you earn towards the end of the war concentration camps were to be evacuated, and, if so, who gave the orders?
A: ...At the beginning of 1945, when various camps came within the operational shere of the enemy the Reichsfuhrer oredered the HSSPF's, who in an emergency were responsible for the security and the safety of the camps, to decide for themselves whether an evacuation or surrender was appropriate.