WARNING – GRAPHIC PHOTOS – WARNING

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

HB

During 2010, I worked and lived in Poland. I took this as an opportunity to visit some of the great towns and cities of Poland, Including Wroclaw, Warsaw and Krakow. Krakow has to have been the most interesting. Not only is it a beautiful place, with a tremendous backdrop of mountains to the southwest.

But unfortunately there is a darker side to that area; 50 kilometres away is the home of the infamous concentration camp, Auschwitz.

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.

I am sure, had I visited the two sites in the middle of summer, with greenery, flowers and birds singing, the impact may have been different. But with snow on the ground and it being bitter cold, it was much easier to picture in your mind the atrocious conditions experienced by the people incarcerated there.

Auschwitz-Camp I

Gate into the main Auschwitz camp.  Hoess’s infamous ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign, ‘Work will set you free.”

In his autobiography, Hoess points out that the expression meant  ‘work liberates one in a spiritual sense’, not that you will be free. To the Jews, it was later known as the ‘Death Factory”.

Auschwitz main camp, Camp I, the fences say it all.

Some of the main brick built camp buildings, an ex Polish Army Barracks.

Security was paramount.

The roof of the gas chamber at Auschwitz main camp, the crematoria chimney in the background.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, the first view of this bleak concentration camp, Camp II.

Looking into the camp through the barbed wire perimeter fence.

The Iconic picture of the entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The view the guards would have had of the camp from the control tower at the top of the archway entrance.

The view the camp prisoners would have got of the entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau, as they were ordered off the cattle trucks to a fate they probably didn’t anticipate.

The long railway sidings where the dogs would have been barking, whistles blowing, guards screaming, families separated and children crying.

The reality of it all.

The site of some of the ruins of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

They had latrines, but not quite what we may be used to.

A view of the bunk beds, although I don’t think it depicts the true horror that was experienced within.

A more realistic view.

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.

HB