Historical Information

Historical map

1935 Construction of the Military Training Area Bergen, as a result of German rearmament programme. In the adjacent forest a camp (1) for the construction workers was erected.
1940 - 1943 Development of the site to a Prisoner of War Camp (1+2) for French and Belgian POWs (1 + 2), since 1941 for Soviet POWs (3 - 7). In the winter of 1941/1942, 14,000 prisoners died.
April 1943 The camp complex (3 to 7) was handed over to the SS and the so-called "Detention Camp Bergen-Belsen was established. It became a collection point for thousands of Jews who were to be exchanged for Germans who were interned in other countries.
März 1944 The Prisoner Camp (7) was filled with sick inmates from other Concentration Camps (for instance Dora-Mittelbau). Bergen-Belsen was cynically named a Rest Camp. The majority of these inmates died.
August 1944 A Tented Camp (8) was constructed for approx. 8000 Women who came from the Concentration Camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. Amongst these were Anne and Margot Frank. During a terrible winter storm the tents all collapsed.
Januar 1945 As a result of the many evacuation transport from front lying Concentration Camps, the hospital (1) was dissolved and the Large Women Camp (1) was constructed. Start of the inferno: The camp was intolerably overfilled, as a result only in March more than 18,000 died from cold, hunger and disease.
15. April 1945 British troops liberated Belsen. At this time the number of prisoners in the camp was approx. 60,000. Survivors were taken to the local military camp which was converted into an emergency Hospital. Even after the liberation of the camp 13,000 former inmates died. The barracks was subsequently called the DP Camp, as the Jews had no home to return to. In 1948 the State of Israel was founded and as result small contingents of people from the DP-camp were allowed to immigrate into Israel. The DP camp was finally closed in 1950.
17. September 1945 Start of the Bergen-Belsen Trials in Lueneburg. There were 44 people accused, 33 members of the SS and 11 Kapos.
17. November 1945 Results were 11 death sentences, 19 prison sentences, 14 acquittals. Most of the about 430 SS guards were never brought to trial.