Type of Concentration Camp: Until 1934,
Bergen-Belsen was a prisoner-of-war (POW) camp. In April 1943 the SS Economic-Administration
Main Office (WVAH), the people in charge of the concentration camps, took over
a small section of the camp and made it into a civilization residence camp and
later into a concentration camp. Bergen-Belsen consists of three different camps;
a prisoner of war camp which was in effect from 1940 to January 1945, a
residence camp from April 1943 to April 1945, and a prisoner camp from April
1943 until March 1945.
Camp: The residence camp was divided up into four subcamps, there was a
special camp, a neutrals camp, a star camp, and a Hungarian camp. The Jewish
prisoners in this camp were thought to be exchanged for German nationals that
were held hostage by the Western Allies. The Germans were hoping to open
negotiation for a separate peace with the Western Allies. Not many prisoners
actually got exchanged.
Camp: The prisoner camp had five subcamps, a recuperation camp, a tent
camp, a prisoner’s camp, a large woman’s camp and a small woman’s camp. In
January 1945, SS had to create a large woman’s camp because of the abundance of
woman transports from different concentration, labor, and subcamps.
War Camp: The prisoner of war camps also know as
Stalag 3111 or Stalag XIC. The Germans held about six-hundred Belgian and
French prisoners of war and after July 1941, more than twenty-thousand Soviet
prisoners of war. More than eleven-thousand Belgian, French, and Soviet
prisoners died as a result of starvation or disease do to the German’s
intentional negligence from July 1941 and January 1942.
1944 and early 1945 Bergen-Belsen became a collection camp for the abundance of
Jewish prisoners evacuated from camps closer to the front.
after the War: In autumn of 1945 a British
Military Tribunal in Luneburg went to court with forty-eight Bergen-Belsen
staff members, thirty-seven SS personnel and eleven prisoner functionaries were
Personnel: The first commandant of Bergen-Belsen
was SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Adolf Haas, he started in the spring of 1943.The second
commandant was SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Joseph Framer; he replaced Adolf Hass in
December 1944. SS destroyed many of the camp’s files, including many that were
Memorial: In 1945, right after World War II, survivors constructed the first
memorial stones and monuments in the now destroyed Bergen-Belsen. The survivors
put personal plaques close to the mass graves. The Bergen-Belsen memorial is
the oldest state supported memorial in all of Germany. During the 1950’s, the
majority of people forgot it as a place of remembrance. The first official
memorial was inaugurated in 1952 and was opened in 1966. The memorial has
recently been redesigned in October 28th, 2007 and there is a
section called the Documentation Centre. There are close to four-hundred
biographical video interviews with survivors. The Research and Documentation
department at Bergen-Belsen mainly includes the history of the camp.
People that Died: Roughly fifty-thousand
people died in Bergen-Belsen.
Day in the
Life: In late 1944,
Bergen-Belsen started to run out of food. By the time it was early 1945,
prisoners would sometimes not eat anything for days and there was also not a
lot of fresh water to share with everyone. Numerous prisoners died of fevers,
tuberculosis, typhus, dysentery, and typhoid due to overcrowding and the lack
of sanitation and proper food, water, and shelter.
Prisoners: Bergen-Belsen had many different
prisoners, such as prisoners of war, political prisoners, Roma (gypsies),
“asocials”, criminals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, and majority being
Jews. Among the thousands of prisoners, famous diarist, Anne Frank, died in
Bergen-Belsen along with her sister, Margot, in which they died of typhus in
March 1945, weeks before the liberation of the camp.
was located in the south part of the small towers of Bergen and Belsen which
was about eleven miles north of Celle Germany.