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June 21, 2015

Queen Elizabeth will soon visit the former Bergen-Belsen exchange camp

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 1:21 pm

Back in the Dark Ages, when I was a student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, we were taught that there are only 3 rules of Journalism: ACCURACY,  ACCURACY, ACCURACY.

My first Journalism assignment was a job on the copy desk of a city newspaper where I checked news stories for errors and omissions.

There was no google back then; I had to look up possible errors in an encyclopedia, or call someone to verify questionable information. The newspaper had a “morgue” which was filled with previous news stories that I could also use to verify information.

When the presses rolled, and the first newspapers of the day were being printed, it was my job to go into the press room and quickly check the front page for errors before these papers hit the streets. If there was a serious error, it was my job to yell “Stop the presses.”

Today, I read a news article, which has this headline:

Queen Elizabeth II Will Visit Bergen-Belsen, Former Concentration Camp in Germany

Stop the Presses! There is a serious error in this headline.

There was a German army camp near the town of Belsen, and because of this, a POW camp set up there in 1940. This POW camp later became an exchange camp for Jews. It was not until December 1944 that the exchange camp became a concentration camp because none of the Allied countries wanted to exchange German prisoners for Jews.

So Bergen-Belsen should not be described as a “concentration camp” without explaining that the camp was originally set up for Soviet POWs and that it later became an Exchange camp for the purpose of exchanging Jews for German prisoners in American and British internment camps.

The newspaper article mentions that the Queen will visit the memorial to Anne Frank and her sister Margot, both of whom died in the typhus epidemic at Bergen-Belsen.  Could we see a photo of the memorial please?

I took the photos below when I visited the Bergen-Belsen memorial site in 2001.

Memorial stone for Margot Frank and Anne Franck at Bergen-Belsen

Memorial stone for Margot Frank and Anne Franck at Bergen-Belsen

Mass grave behind the Anne Frank memorial stone

Mass grave behind the Anne Frank memorial stone

The thousands of prisoners who died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen are buried in mass graves, like the one shown in the background of the photo above.

Tourists leave momentos  on  the stones at the mass graves at Bergen-Belsen

Tourists leave personal items on the stones at the mass graves at Bergen-Belsen

Yes, the photos above show the mass graves, into which the British shoved the bodies of the dead Jews with bulldozers.

Anne Frank and her sister Margo were originally prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the infamous death camp, before they were sent to the sick camp at Bergen-Belsen where they both died of typhus.

According to the Memorial Site at Bergen-Belsen, the camp population on December 1, 1944 was 15,257. By February 1, 1945, there were 22,000 prisoners in the camp, and by March 1, 1945, the number of inmates had swelled to 41,520. On April 15, 1945, there were an estimated 60,000 prisoners in the camp.

A total of 50,000 prisoners died during the two years the camp was in operation, including 13,000 who died of weakness and disease AFTER the camp was liberated. By far the biggest killer in the camp was typhus, a deadly disease that is transmitted by body lice.

The story of Bergen-Belsen can be summed up by a chart that hangs on the wall of the Museum there. It shows that there were 350 deaths in the camp in December 1944 before the typhus epidemic started. In January 1945, after a typhoid epidemic started, there were between 800 and 1000 deaths; in February 1945, after the typhus epidemic broke out, there were 6,000 to 7,000 deaths.

In March 1945, the number of deaths had escalated to an incredible 18,168 in only one month. In April 1945, the deaths were 18,355 in only one month, with half of these deaths occurring after the British took over.

Unlike the death camps in Poland, the Bergen-Belsen camp was not equipped to handle this kind of death rate; there was only one crematory oven in the camp.

There was only one oven to burn the dead bodies at Bergen-Belsen

There was only one oven to burn the dead bodies at Bergen-Belsen

When the British arrived on April 15, 1945, there were 10,000 bodies that were still unburied, and more were dying every day because the Germans could not control the epidemics. By the end of April, in only two weeks time, 9000 more had died. Another 4,000 died before the end of May.

In February 1945, a transport of Hungarian Jews arrived at Bergen-Belsen at a time when the disinfection chambers were temporarily not in use, and as a result, lice got into the camp, causing a typhus epidemic to break out. Heinrich Himmler, who was in charge of all the concentration camps, ordered that “all medical means necessary to combat the epidemic should be employed” but in spite of this, the epidemic quickly spread beyond control.

There were also epidemics of typhoid and dysentery at Bergen-Belsen, as well as a shortage of food and water after the camp became part of the war zone in Germany in the final days of World War II.

A sign that was put up by the British at Bergen-Belsen

A sign that was put up by the British at Bergen-Belsen

A few of the bodies at Bergen-Belsen were buried in individual graves

A few of the bodies at Bergen-Belsen were buried in individual graves

The three old photos, shown above, were sent to me by Kerry Smith; these photos were taken in 1945 by Oswald Lewis, a British soldier who participated in the cleanup operation at Bergen-Belsen.

12 Comments »

  1. How clever, the alleged photo of the burning bodies taken from the doorway of a “gas chamber” is a photo of a drawing, a fake. It is typical of the technique to show an opening and say that it was the opening, doorway of a “gas chamber. How do I confirm that? The sonderkommando jews had a leica! really, no, it must have been a speed Graphic, or maybe a Cannon, maybe a Nikon? Miracles happen you know! The fine fellows who testified at the trial of Hoess retired to Israel maybe?? or have disappeared..

    Harvey Taylor

    Comment by hataylor2003 — December 27, 2015 @ 10:38 pm

  2. we have just had the visit mentioned on the news here in New Zealand. There was no mention of Gas Chambers, rather the deaths were attributed to disease and starvation. Nothing about Anne Frank

    Comment by Greg — June 27, 2015 @ 12:02 am

    • Here is a quote from my website. These are the words of the Commandant of Bergen-Belsen, as he tried to explain what happened:

      Begin quote
      Commandant Kramer described the situation at Bergen-Belsen after the evacuated prisoners were brought there from Auschwitz:

      The camp was not really inefficient before you (the Allies) crossed the Rhine. There was running water, regular meals of a kind — I had to accept what food I was given for the camp and distribute it the best way I could. But then they suddenly began to send me trainloads of new prisoners from all over Germany. It was impossible to cope with them. I appealed for more staff, more food. I was told that this was impossible. I had to carry on with what I had.

      Then as a last straw the Allies bombed the electric plant that pumped our water. Loads of food were unable to reach the camp because of the Allied fighters. Then things really got out of hand. During the last six weeks I have been helpless. I did not even have sufficient staff to bury the dead, let alone segregate the sick.

      I tried to get medicines and food for the prisoners and I failed. I was swamped. I may have been hated, but I was doing my duty.
      End quote

      Comment by furtherglory — June 27, 2015 @ 10:51 am

  3. Further Glory,

    You do much good work however, the “photo” in the piece on Lithuanian Jews memorial which supposedly depicts Lithuanians killing Jews is a fake. The foreground could be of any group and appears to be a photographed drawing. It is superimposed over what appears to be a genuine photo of a formation of German troops.

    Regards,

    Harvey Taylor

    Comment by hataylor2003 — June 23, 2015 @ 9:54 pm

    • You have put your comment on the wrong blog post. You are referring to what I wrote in this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/memorial-to-lithuanian-jews-coming-down/

      Please put your comment in the right place, so that everyone will know to what you are referring.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 24, 2015 @ 10:21 am

      • Sorry ! I was referring to the title of the subject : Queen Elizabeth will soon visit the former Bergen-Belsen exchange camp.

        Comment by arabin — June 24, 2015 @ 6:21 pm

        • And is she really gonna give a shit about the place? I’d say this falls under the category”keeping up appearances “. Maybe she can get her grandson Harry to go with her. He can wear his Swastika arm band.

          Comment by Tim — June 24, 2015 @ 7:22 pm

  4. Was the Queen one of “the Mob” that benefited from the holocaust?

    Comment by arabin — June 22, 2015 @ 8:54 pm

  5. Well I don’t think Churchill was on Uncle Adolphs Christmas card Christmas card mailing list. First time I’ve heard about the British camps. What’s the skinny on that? I can’t see why rhe British would need one. I don’t pay attention to the royal fsmily,but I read something and this article reminded me of it. Queen Elizabeth wrote a letter to her aunt. One line she said,” having to go to war over tiresome Serbia “. I could be wrong,but that sounds pretty damn snotty. Now take a look at her daughter. It seems to me like she could be just as snotty as her mother. Now if QE is like her mother,how do we know she even gives a shit about the jews. I mean could this just be part of “keeping up appearances?

    Comment by Tim — June 21, 2015 @ 6:21 pm

    • During World War II, the British had German citizens in prisons where they were treated very badly. America had internment camps for German Americans and German citizens that were living in South America, but were captured and brought to America. The Nazis set up Bergen-Belsen as an exchange camp to trade prisoners, but there were virtually no German citizens released, so finally Bergen-Belsen was turned into a concentration camp in the last 6 months of the war. Prisoners were brought to Bergen-Belsen to get them out of the war zone where fighting in the war was going on.

      The British have changed the true story of Bergen-Belsen into a story of Germany bringing prisoners to Bergen-Belsen to deliberately starve them to death.

      http://boingboing.net/2012/12/31/forced-internment-of-british-c.html

      Comment by furtherglory — June 22, 2015 @ 8:08 am

  6. The German war time Chancellor was keen to recognise and give credit to the nation which invented the concentration camp. Maybe the Queen should have paid her respects to the women and children who died in British concentration camps first before going on her state visit to Belsen.

    Comment by peter — June 21, 2015 @ 3:14 pm


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