Established in 1940 as a Prisoner of War camp, Bergen Belsen became a complex of camps in 1943, including a concentration camp in addition to the POW component, and an Aufenthaltslager or holding camp for prisoners who could potentially be exchanged with the Allies for German citizens held in internment camps. Only 358 prisoners were ever officially exchanged. With the Allied advance many thousands of prisoners from other camps were collected at Belsen, including large transports of female prisoners. With evacuations from other camps, the population of prisoners swelled by 1945 to over 60,000. Conditions here were execrable, with limited or non-existent shelter, poor sanitation, food shortages and overcrowding. Typhus, typhoid fever, and dysentery were common. When the British liberated the camp April 15, 1945, they found most of the living inhabitants to be extremely ill, many lying among the unburied bodies of those who had perished. And many-too ill and weakened to rally- died after liberation. Among the victims were Anne Frank and her sister Margot, who had perished just before the arrival of the British.
To prevent the further spread of typhus the British burned the camp to the ground. Out of the ashes Jewish survivors, unable to return to their former homelands, or legally emigrate to other countries, attempted to create a family and cultural life in Bergen-Belsen. Political, social, religious and cultural activities were organized. Many married within the camp, schools were founded to accommodate the extraordinary number of children born. Orphanages, schools yeshivas, a newspaper, vocational training were an integral part of camp life. In time many of the surviving remnant of the Holocaust Jews were able to emigrate to Israel, the United States or Canada.
--Michael D. Bulmash, K1966
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Envelope with tape over back flap with handwritten address to Mr. Ostregel and purple stamp on the bottom from the "Senior Jewish Chaplain H.Q. British Army Of The Rhine.Letter: Typewritten letter in English signed by the Senior Jewish Chaplain.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Re-used forces envelope sent to Montreal, Canada with enclosed mimeographed thank you note for parcel received. Violet handstamp "Senior Jewish Chaplain/HQ British Army of the Rhine" (BAOR).
Letter with printed German text in red at top and handwritten text in blue ink below. Swastika stamp at bottom left of back page.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:
Letter sent by H. Guretzki (?), inmate number 4234, from Aufenthaltslager Bergen-Belsen on December 1, 1944. It is censored with a circular ink stamp verso and stamped with a directive to write letters in the German language. It is possible that the blacked-out areas conceal other camp stationary and that there was a shortage at Belsen. The Aufenthaltslager was a holding camp for prisoners who could potentially be exchanged with Allies for German internees. However, only 358 prisoners were exchanged, and the fate of the author of this letter is uncertain.
Belsen began its life as a POW camp but by 1943 became a large complex of camps. With the Allied advance, Belsen essentially became a dumping ground for prisoners-especially women- from other camps, the population swelling to more than 60,000 by 1945. Along with the overcrowding there was limited shelter, and food shortages, poor sanitation, and disease were rife. The living were found among the unburied dead when the British liberated the camp in April, 1945. Anne Frank and her sister Margot were among the many who perished here.
Black hard-board covered book, spiral bound with white text “Nazi Hel” and a swastika.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Nazi Hel is a first edition photo documentary of black and white photos taken by the Allies after the liberation of the concentration camps in 1945. Most of the photos were taken at Bergen-Belsen by the British army. Others were taken at Buchenwald, Mauthausen and Langenstein, and Schwabmuenchen. A two-page introduction is in Dutch, along with a map depicting the location of some of the larger concentration and labor camps. The final photograph is of a Dutch woman who belonged to the resistance, killed just one day before her home town of Deventer was liberated.
Envelope: Small envelope with typewritten address to L. Hendler and Unzer Sztyme stamp on back flap.Card: Small card with printed message in Hebrew with Our Voice stamp.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: 1946 Jewish New Years Card (Shenah Tovah) from the Editorial Staff of "Unzer Sztyme" (Our Voice) to Mr. L. Hendler, Montreal Canada with red rectangular Displaced Persons Mail/PAID handstamp.
Jewish New Years Card from P. Tremen at the Central Jewish Committee From Bergen-Belson Displaced Persons Camp
Envelope: Small envelope with address handwritten in blue ink to L. Hendler and return address written on back flap.Card: Small card with text printed in Hebrew.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: 1946 Jewish New Years Card (Shenah Tovah) from P. Trepmen, Central Jewish Committee, 619 Mil. Gov. Det., BAOR to L. Hendler, Montreal, Canada with red rectangular handstamp "Displaced Persons Mail/PAID."
Envelope: Brown envelope on Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the British Zone stationery, addressed to W. Ostreger.Letter: Central Jewish Committee Bergen-Belsen stationery with printed message and additions written in blue ink.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Form "thank you" note from Central Jewish Committee / Bergen-Belsen, J. Rozensaft, Chairman to Montreal, Canada, with circular violet "Displaced Persons Mail/Paid" hand stamp.
Envelope: Green envelope addressed to L. Hendler in black pen with return address on back flap.Letter: Printed note in Hebrew with geometric design.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: A wedding invitation from Bergen-Belsen to L. Hendler, Montreal, Canada. The invitation reads, "We write to you to participate in our Wedding Ceremony on 3/28/1946 at 5pm in the Drama Studio Hall-Black 39, Room 5." Stampless cover, via military mail, with handwritten OAS (On Active Service). In Displaced Persons Camps, survivors were getting married virtually every day, and had one of the highest birth rates per capita in the world.
Envelope: Tan envelope with typewritten address to L. Hendler.Letter: Typewritten letter on Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad stationery.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: A thank you letter from the Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad stationed in Bergen-Belsen with OAS stampless cover, canceled Field Post Office/504 (used only at Bergen-Belsen) and addressed to L. Hendler, Montreal, Canada.
Front: Typewritten message to Mrs. Berg on green paper. Signed by Ruth Cohen.Back: Addressed to Mrs. Berg on "On Active Service Letter Form."
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: A thank you note from Ruth Cohen, "Jewish Relief Unit 110/618 Mil. Gov. Det./BAOR" located at Bergen-Belsen DP Camp, addressed to Montreal, Canada on NAAFI "On Active Service Letter Form."
Envelope: Ripped envelope with typewritten address and return address to "Unzer Stime" (Our Voice).Letter: Typewritten letter in Hebrew on "Unzer Sztyme" (Our Voice) stationery.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: A note from the Editorial Staff of "Unzer Sztyme" (Our Voice) to I. Weinberg, Montreal, Canada with red rectangular handstamp Displaced Persons Mail/PAID.
Envelope: Tan envelope with handwritten address to Mrs. Naturman from the Central Jewish Committee.Letter: Printed letter from the Central Jewish Committee with additions written in blue ink.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Thank you note, mimeographed form with envelope addressed to Canda, with red rectangular "Displaced Persons Mail/PAID" handstamp. Return address "Central Jewish Committee c/o 618 Mil. Gov. Det., BAOR.
Brown envelope with address written in green ink and return address written on back flap.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Envelope addressed to Bergen-Belsen/Jewish Lager Central Committee from Cyla Getsler, German DP Camp "Schwab-Hall" bei Stuttgart, UNRRA 512, USA Zone.
Front: A typewritten letter on grey paper addressed to Mrs. Sabatchnick and signed by Ruth Cohen.Back: Typewritten address to Mrs. R. Sabatchnick. Letter written on "On Active Service Letter Form."
Postcard addressed to the camp from Bala Feldman. Includes a message written in purple ink.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: A German postcard sent to Bergen DP Camp/Jewish Committee looking for missing relative, Feldman Brajndel.
Front: Children standing with an adult.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Kindergarten youth in Belsen DP camp, 1947. Text verso: "The youngsters from the Kindergarten are wondering...Belsen, Dec. 1947."
Front: Men sitting at a table with Israeli flag on it.Back: Text in English and Hebrew and purple stamp.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Private photograph of an assembly taken at Bergen-Belsen DP camp in 1947.
A woman swimming.
A black and white phtograph of a group of men, women and children around a table with a bottle on the table and a mural in the background. Stamp on back notes they were from Block 51 z. 11.
A black and white photograph of a group of men, women and children with a mural in the background. Stamp on back notes they were from Block 51 z. 11.
Men and women holding hands and dancing in black and white outfits.
A black and white photograph of a man and woman holding hands with a train in the background with Yiddish text on back.
A sepia photograph of a man in a suit and glasses in thought. Yiddish text on back.
A sepia photograph of a woman with a beaded blouse. Text on back is illegible.
Correspondence Regarding the Full List of Donors of Packages Sent to Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp from 1946-1947
Envelope: Brown envelope with typewritten address to Mr. M. Ravitsch c/o Jewish Library.Letter: Typewritten letter. The first page is in Hebrew and is a numerical list in Hebrew, printed on Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the British Zone stationery. Subsequent pages are a numerical list in English of names and dates.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: A letter and full list of donors from 1946-1947, which included 237 packages sent to Bergen-Belsen from "grass roots" groups in Montreal, Canada. The Hendler's list from November 25, 1945 until February 20, 1947 shows 907 packages sent to Bergen-Belsen alone, the largest part of the 1,324 packages sent to the British Zone.
Envelope: Small envelope with typewritten address to Mrs. L. Hendler with four purple British stamps.Letter: Typewritten letter on Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad stationery. The letter is in English and signed by Ida Lichtenholz.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: A letter from the Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad to Mrs. L. Hendler, Montreal, thanking her for the relief parcels received in Belsen Camp. This included a note that "The parcels received from the above named ladies were very good and we made full use of the contents. Mrs. Chait's food parcel was particularly acceptable, as at the present our small food stocks are being gradually exhausted!" Note envelope "Forces Mails" with 12p stamps (via Airmail) canceled with Field Post Office 745 obliterator.