Die Errichtung der Gedenkstätte Bergen-Belsen

In October 1945, after the victims of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp had been buried in mass graves and the former prisoner huts had been burned down, the British military government instructed the German administration to redesign the site of the former camp and submit plans for a memorial. The grounds were subsequently landscaped. On the first anniversary of the liberation, a Jewish monument was erected by Jewish survivors from the nearby DP camp without the authorisation of the British military government. This monument was eventually joined by an obelisk and a wall with inscriptions in various languages dedicated to the memory of the victims of Bergen-Belsen.

In November 1952, a representative of the British government transferred responsibility for the Bergen-Belsen Memorial to the Federal State of Lower Saxony at a ceremony attended by German Federal President Theodor Heuss, among others.

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1. 14 April 1946, Photographer: Sgt. Makin “Two former inmates weep over a mass grave.” From the photographer’s caption sheet. Imperial War Museum, London, Photograph Archive, BU 12578

2. A Catholic Mass is celebrated in front of the freshly unveiled wooden cross, 2 November 1945. Thousands of DPs as well as representatives of the Vatican and the British and American military authorities attended the ceremony. Donated by Elżbieta Bosek

3. Memorial celebration at the Jewish monument on the occasion of the Second Congress of Liberated Jews in the British Zone, July 1947. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC, Courtesy of Ned and Anna Aron, 97106a

4. Inauguration ceremony for the Bergen-Belsen Memorial. 30 November 1952. ullstein bild 1003860591