Tuesday 21 April 2009

Bergen-Belsen blog report 1

I'd been putting off the visit for a while so wasn't quite sure what to expect. For those not familiar Bergen-Belsen was a concentration camp in Lower Saxony from the second world war - my grandfather had been in the liberation relief forces and I had been planning to for ages.

Because of the typhus outbreak before, at liberation the camp was totally destroyed and burnt down and so it has the effect of being essentially a wooded park land with memorials and graves.

But four kilometeres up the road, close to the village of Bergen itself are the rail track where the prisoners were unloaded and forced to walk to the camp.

It is a truly awful and poignant reminded of the reality if what was involved.

I walked from Bergen to the tracks and then onto the camp and it gave a real sense of perspective on the alienation of being uprooted from your home and transported to this place - unfamiliar, aggressive, unpleasant - a genocidal holocaust...

Now there is a sculpted memorial (above left) and also a service where local residents and school-children have written out the names of many of those transported to the camp and then candles are lit - some speakers, a few songs and a time to reflect. very moving, very emotional...


Edis said...

Possibly your grandfather knew my father, who was the Royal Engineers officer in charge of digging the mass graves and processing the burials.

As he said, he was possible the man who buried Anna Frank.

Anonymous said...

That typhus that was raging through Germany at the end of the war killed a helluva lot of people in those camps!
About 50 million people died in the second world war. Funny how we only hear about one particular group that suffered. In fact we never stop hearing about it.
It all needs a thorough investigation to determine the truth of what really happened.

Ed Fordham said...

I'm more than happy to debate perspectves on history but I'm not prepared to support or provide a platform for holcaust denial and i'm afraid i have had comments on this site which verge towards that pitch.

I'm putting this comment up so others reading this know that i've chosen not to publish comments that are actively promoting a view that in my opinion is somewhere near holcaust denial.

I'm happy to publish a clarification if that person wants to get in touch.

I'm more than happy to be corrected. I'm more than happy to illuminate other wrongs in history - but i am not prepared to start that with the working presumption that Jews might not have been rounded up, transported and systematically killed by the Nazi regime.

Max said...

My father was one of The Royal Engineers (Bomb Disposal) present at the liberation.
The sights he witnessed at Belsen I'm sure contributed to his nervous breakdown after the war. He recovered but sadly i lost him 2 years ago.