As current events show, it is now more than ever before, imperative that we remember the Holocaust. There are some photos below from the British Army’s liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in northern Germany. They are graphic, but I felt it was important that they be shared. I hope no offense is taken.
One of the pictures taken by the British Army as they liberated Bergen-Belsen on April 15, 1945
It was about 5pm on 15 April when the miracle actually happened: the first British tank rolled into the camp. We were liberated! No one will ever forget that day. We did not greet our liberators with shouts of joy. We were silent. Silent with incredulity and maybe just a a little suspicion that we might be dreaming.
~ Bergen-Belsen survivor, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch ~
A prisoner, too weak to move because of starvation, sits in agony.
A mass grave at Belsen. The man standing in the middle was Dr. Fritz Klein, the camp “doctor”. He was convicted of two counts of war crimes and executed in December of 1945
Here over an acre of ground lay dead and dying people. You could not see which was which…The Living lay with their heads against the corpses and around them moved the awful, ghostly procession of emancipated, aimless people, with nothing to do and no hope of life, unable to move out of your way, unable to look at the terrible sights around them…Babies had been born here, tiny wizened things that could not live…A mother, driven mad, screamed at a British sentry to give her milk for her child, and thrust the tiny mite into his arms, then ran off, crying terribly. He opened the bundle and found the baby had been dead for days.
This day at Belsen was the most horrible of my life.
~ BBC radio broadcaster, Richard Dimbleby in an historic broadcast days after the liberation of the camp.~
Women inmates using boots from the dead (there’s a pile of them in the background) as fuel for their cooking fires.
But we went further on into the camp, and seen the corpses lying everywhere. You didn’t know whether they were living or dead. Most of them were dead. Some were trying to walk, some were stumbling, some on hands and knees, but in the lagers, the barbed wire around the huts, you could see that the doors were open. The stench coming out of them was fearsome.
They were lying in the doorways—tried to get down the stairs and fallen and just died on the spot. And it was just everywhere. Going into, more deeper, into the camp the stench got worse and the numbers of the dead—they were just impossible to know how many there were…Inside the camp itself, it was just unbelievable. You just couldn’t believe the numbers involved…
This was one of the things which struck me when I first went in, that the whole camp was so quiet and yet there were so many people there. You couldn’t hear anything, there was just no sound at all and yet there was some movement—those people who could walk or move—but just so quiet. You just couldn’t understand that all those people could be there and yet everything was so quiet…
It was just this oppressive haze over the camp, the smell, the starkness of the barbed wire fences, the dullness of the bare earth, the scattered bodies and these very dull, too, grey uniforms—those who had it—it was just so dull. The sun, yes the sun was shining, but they were just didn’t seem to make any life at all in that camp.
Everything seemed to be dead. The slowness of the movement of the people who could walk. Everything was just ghost-like and it was just so unbelievable that there were literally people living still there. There’s so much death apparent that the living, certainly, were in the minority.
~ British Soldier, Dick Williams ~
Women SS camp guards moving bodies to a mass grave.
A sign erected by the British Army at the entrance of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. May 29, 1945. © I AM (BU 6955), CC BY-NC-ND