During 1979/80, I served with Task Force Bravo, later known as 22nd Armoured Brigade, based in Northern West Germany. I took this as an opportunity to visit the Nazis concentration camp that was right on our doorstep. Unlike my previous Post on Auschwitz, the colour photographs were taken in 1979, and the quality wasn’t up to the standard of the Digital ones we’re used to today.

Again, it is not my intention to write the history of this notorious site, that has already been done, and by much better writers than me. I would just like to share some of my photography with you.

Bergen-Belsen, southwest of the town of Bergen near Celle. – 1979

 Very little remains there today, part from the mass graves  and a small covered area where photographs of the original site were displayed. I don’t know if it is still there.

One of the barrack rooms after the camp was liberated. – 1945

From 1941 t0 1945, almost 20,000 Russian prisoners of war and over 50,000 other inmates died there. Many of them dying of typhus.

I think, this was roughly at the centre of the site. – 1979

The camp was liberated on the 15th April, 1945 by the British 11th Armoured Division. They discovered 53,000 prisoners inside, half starved and seriously ill, along with over 10,000 corpses.

The British soldiers had the unenviable task of clearing the dead bodies, but necessary to stop the spread of disease. – 1945

They were buried in Mass Graves, this one being Number 3. – 1945

One of the Mass Graves, Bergen-Belsen – 2,500 dead. – 1979

The site felt quite eerie. There were no birds singing and there seemed to be a deathly silence. The ground seemed barren and apart from a few trees and poor quality grass, little else was visible.

Site of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. – 1979

I believe that in in 2007, a redesigned memorial site was opened. It now has a large new Documentation Centre and a permanent exhibition.  The structure and the layout of the camp can now also be traced. I must return there one day.

As indicated at the beginning, my intention was just to share a few photographs with you and not do a write up on the background to the camp and the atrocities linked to it. It was a fascinating, yet horrific, time in our Worlds history and I sometimes wonder if all the lessons from it have been learnt.

Colour photographs copyrighted to Harvey Black