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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Illustration of Jews "on the way to be slaughtered by the Nazis."
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: 25th Anniversary of Liberation of Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. Israeli, 1970, with painting by Yosef Kuzkovski entitled "On the way to be slaughtered by the Nazis."
Black and white photograph of prisoners at Bergen-Belsen in a muddy area. Includes text, "6.-- La vie des prisonnières au camp de concentration de Belsen."
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: This photo records the unspeakable disorder, filth, and overcrowding of the camp where -among many others-Anne and Margot Frank spent their last miserable days after having survived Westerbork and Auschwitz. Not long after witnessing her sister die of dysentery, Anne lost the battle to typhus. She was in all probability thrown into a mass grave-just one of the ten thousand unburied dead- when the camp was liberated by the British and Canadians just three weeks later
A black and white photograph of bodies by a barbed wire fence. Includes text in upper right corner, "Leipzig."
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: A black and white photograph of bodies by a barbed wire fence.The British and Canadians liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp with the cooperation of the Jewish brigade. This photograph is part of the horror that greeted them upon entering the camp and seeing the unburied dead intermingled with the starving and sick and scarcely living “survivors”
Black and white phtograph of men standing around a large sign with title,"This is the Site of the Infamous Belsen Concentration Camp."
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: The British and Canadians liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp with the cooperation of the Jewish brigade. The horror that greeted them upon entering the camp and seeing the unburied dead intermingled with the starving and sick and scarcely living “survivors” can scarcely be hinted at in this sign and in the incomprehension of the soldiers standing about.
A group of people seated and standing with a man holding a tea cup at the front. Pink stamp on back notes that they are from Block 11.
Children performing with ribbons. Text on back reads, "In the middle of a performance!"
A black and white photograph of men and women sitting in and standing in front of a train car.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Post war series of home-made black and white photographs taken at Bergen Belsen DP Camp , this of men and women sitting and standing in front of a train car, one of the train cars that brought prisoners to this camp when it was a concentration camp.