Today in 1945, with the end of the Second World War in Europe in sight, British soldiers from the 11th Armoured Division liberated the Bergen-Belsen Labour Camp in central Germany. 75 years on, we pause to remember their actions, with the help of our colleagues at the National Army Museum in London.
On Sunday 15 April 1945, Bergen Belsen was liberated by the British 11th Armoured Division. On entering, the soldiers were confronted with the sight of over 60,000 emaciated prisoners who were in need of serious medical attention, water and food. To add to this ghastly scene the lifeless bodies of more than 13,000 prisoners lay unburied around the Camp.
Over the next month, soldiers under the command of Brigadier Hugh Glyn-Hughes, the Deputy Director of Medical Services for the British Second Army, worked day and night to contain disease and save lives, separating the sick and slowly bringing the death toll down to less than 100 souls a day. Today, as the country stands united to fight another disease, we pause to remember both the victims of Bergen-Belsen and the humanity of those men and women who risked their own lives to save others.
Despite the current restrictions on movement, the Army's partner organisation, the National Army Museum, is running a number of events today which help to explain the events of that Spring day 75 years ago. Discussing the anniversary, Kirsty Parsons, Curator at the National Army Museum said: “Whilst this kind of history is very difficult to acknowledge, it is important that we commemorate these anniversaries. Especially, I think, as we’re seeing some of the issues from the past continuing to be reflected in today’s society. It also shows me that the British
Army still has an integral role to play in British society at times of peace, emergency and war.”
For further information on the events we commemorate today why not take a look at the National Army Museum's Bergen-Belsen webpage.