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April 15, 1945: Liberation of the Concentration Camp Bergen-Belsen

A witness reports about the liberation of the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen on April 15, 1945.

Being liberated from the camps in early 1945 was one of the most impacting experiences of the witnesses in the online archive “Forced Labor 1939-1945”. In many cases the survivors had lost basically everything. Especially German Jews had no idea where they should go. In the following video a Breslauer Jew reports about her liberation from the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen and the difficult situation afterward. The video is in English with German subtitles.

Excerpts from the video interview with Anita L. (German Jew and Auschwitz survivor), Archive “Forced Labor 1939-1945”, language: English with German subtitles, duration: 6:34 minutes, cut: Alexandra Neumann, Tobias Kilgus, © Freie Universität Berlin 2011

April 15, 1945: Liberation of the Concentration Camp Bergen-Belsen

In spring 1945, the advancing allied troops liberated one by one the last remaining forced labor and concentration camps in Germany. The concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, located between Hamburg and Hannover, was surrendered to British troops on April 15, 1945. They found around 38,000 prisoners in the main camp and an additional 15,000 in another camp nearby. Thousands of corpses lay across the entire camp grounds; by the end of June around 14,000 people had died. After the final survivors were relocated to the barracks of the military training area and an emergency hospital was set up, the old barracks were burned to prevent further spreading of the epidemic. The corpses were laid to rest in a mass grave. The final number of the victims murdered in the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen is estimated to be around 50,000.

Biographical Information

Anita L., German Jew and Auschwitz survivor

  • 1925: Born in Breslau

  • Fall 1941: Forced labor in a paper factory

  • Fall 1942: Arrested while attempting to flee with her sister to France

  • Fall 1943: Deportation to Auschwitz, member of the women’s orchestra

  • January 1945: Death march to concentration camp Bergen-Belsen

  • April 1945: Liberated by the British military

  • March 1946: Emigrates to England, works as cellist

  • 1952: Marries the pianist Peter W.

  • Co-founder of the English Chamber Orchestrant