- Bergen-Belsen Memorial
After the outbreak of World War II, the Wehrmacht set up a camp for Belgian and French prisoners of war in huts at the edge of the Bergen Military Training Area. The camp was significantly expanded in the spring of 1941. Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, over 21,000 Soviet POWs were deported to the camp until the autumn of 1941. Between July 1941 and April 1942, 14,000 Soviet POWs died there of starvation, disease and exposure.
In April 1943, the SS took over the southern section of the camp and turned it into an “exchange camp” for Jewish prisoners. The SS decided in the spring of 1944 to also use the camp for other purposes and additional groups of prisoners. This dramatically changed the character of the camp, the structure of the prisoner society and, above all, the prisoners’ living conditions. When the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was liberated on 15 April 1945, British soldiers found thousands of unburied bodies and tens of thousands of severely ill prisoners.
A total of 52,000 prisoners from all over Europe were killed in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp or died immediately after its liberation as a result of their imprisonment.
After the liberation, the British Army set up an emergency hospital at the nearby Wehrmacht barracks which developed into a camp for Polish and Jewish displaced persons (DPs). This was the largest Jewish DP camp in Germany, at times holding up to 12,000 survivors of the Shoah. The DP camp was closed in 1950. (Source: http://bergen-belsen.stiftung-ng.de/en/history.html)