Bergen-Belsen - 75th Anniversary of Liberation

Bergen-Belsen is a site of great tragedy and suffering.

It was a camp with a complicated history, and where function changed significantly over time - it was first a Prisoner of War camp; it then became a concentration camp, and after liberation it became a Displaced Persons camp. Bergen-Belsen played a significant role in the Holocaust, it was a concentration camp where many thousands of Jews were held in terrible conditions, and where many thousands of Jews and other prisoners died. It was also inextricably linked to our British history - it was British forces who liberated the camp on the 15th April 1945.

Between 1940 and 1945, 19,700 prisoners of war died at the POW camp housed at the site, while around 52,000 civilians – the vast majority of which were Jews – perished in the main camp between 1943 and 1945. Even after the camp was liberated by British forces on 15th April 1945, nearly 14,000 more succumbed to the effects of disease and malnutrition in the weeks and months after liberation.

Today, many thousands of people lie buried on the site, most in mass graves, victims of murder, starvation and neglect. Bergen-Belsen is a traumatic place of history, one that is often poorly understood due to its complex nature and function. The images of the British liberation provide just one piece of the camp’s story, and that of the Holocaust overall.

Today, as we mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Belsen, we encourage you to learn about the complicated history of Bergen-Belsen, and we recommend that you read stories from those who survived the camp – those that have since made Britain their home, and those who helped with the British liberation and relief efforts. We also invite you to take part in our Ambassador campaign, and to share your own Belsen story. Belsen and its liberation forms a unique part of Britain’s relationship with, and understanding of the Holocaust, and one that needs to be shared.

This Is Our Story.