Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp

Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp

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Bergen-Belsen began as a prison camp for captured prisoners of war. It was not like Auschwitz where numerous gas chambers killed thousands everyday. But Bergen-Belsen was no less cruel or horrifying. Most died at Bergen-Belsen from being shot, hung, starved to death, or killed by disease. Bergen-Belsen's most famous prisoner was Anne Frank who was transferred there from Auschwitz in October 1944; she died of typhus a few weeks before the British Army liberated the camp. This camp did not fit the standard organization of a concentration camp. It had several camps that segregated the prisoners. Camp officials even traded important prisoners, including Jews, in exchange for money from different governments. Bergen-Belsen was unique in many ways, but it was still a camp where thousands suffered and died under the harsh hand of Nazi leadership.

Fela Warschau Describes liberation by British forces at Bergen-Belsen [1995 interview]

    But we got weaker every day because there was nothing to eat. Finally, the last day when we had nothing, I could barely drag myself. I said to my sister, "I'm going into the barrack, and I'm going to lie down and just die in there. I do not want to die and people should just step over me like others do." They followed me. We all lie down there and just almost said goodbye to life. One of our friends--she was even younger than I was, the youngest--she was always searching, trying to find a way. So she said she has to take the last look outside and see what's going on. When she came back she said to me, "There's something funny going out there. People are running all over the place" and it's, it's unusual. It's not what usually happen. And I told her to just lay down and die in peace. She must be hallucinating. She insisted, so my sister walked out with her. When my sister came back, I don't know with what strength she came back, grabbed me by my arm, and she says, "Get up, get up. Guess what, everybody's running, and the gates are open. There's a man sitting, is it a tank or whatever"--we couldn't distinguish at that time one thing from the other--"he is speaking through a loudspeaker. His words are being translated. I think we were liberated." When I got up and walked outside, my eyes couldn't comprehend. It just didn't register. It's unbelievable. I couldn't believe this was really true, so I said to my sister that she has to grab me by my arm and do something physical so I realize I am really alive and we were liberated. It was the English army that liberated us.

    Eyewitness Account Taken from http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/media_oi.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005224&MediaId=3281


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