Unseen Horror Pictures of Bergen-Belsen after Liberation

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Bergen-Belsen (or Belsen) was a concentration camp in what is today Lower Saxony in northern Germany, southwest of the town of Bergen near Celle. Originally established as a prisoner of war camp, in 1943, parts of it became a concentration camp. Initially this was an “exchange camp”, where Jewish hostages were held with the intention of exchanging them for German prisoners of war held overseas. The camp was later expanded to accommodate Jews from other concentration camps.

After 1945, the name was applied to the displaced persons camp established nearby, but it is most commonly associated with the concentration camp. From 1941 to 1945, almost 20,000 Soviet prisoners of warand a further 50,000 inmates died there, with up to 35,000 of them dying of typhus in the first few months of 1945, shortly before and after the liberation.

The camp was liberated on April 15, 1945, by the British 11th Armoured Division. The soldiers discovered approximately 60,000 prisoners inside, most of them half-starved and seriously ill, and another 13,000 corpses lying around the camp unburied. The horrors of the camp, are documented on film and in pictures, and recently a new bash of horror photographs were discovered that depict the liberation of “Belsen” 70 years ago.

The following photographs were taken by Charles Martin King Parsons CF an Army Chaplain with the 9th British General Hospital during World War 2.

Bergen-Belsen

Bergen Belsen 10 m

This temporary sign was erected by British troops, detailing just a portion of the grisly death total, which eventually reached 50,000.

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This is the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany as it appeared in the days after it was liberated by British and Canadian troops, adorned with the German Reichskriegs flag (left) and a portrait of Hitler (right)

Belsen 13

Survivors huddle inside tents in the wasteland in the centre of the Bergen-Belsen camp, where diarist Anne Frank also died.

Belsen British troops burn the buildings to the ground. These never-before-seen images were captured by Reverend Charles Martin King Parsons, who was one of a handful of chaplains who helped liberate it.

Before the British troops burn the buildings to the ground, troops stand in front a stage to fire a salvo. These never-before-seen images were captured by Reverend Charles Martin King Parsons, who was one of a handful of chaplains who helped liberate it.

Belsen 9

Belsen 6

Belsen 8

Belsen 7

British troops burn the buildings to the ground. These never-before-seen images were captured by Reverend Charles Martin King Parsons, who was one of a handful of chaplains who helped liberate it.

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Around 500 people were dying per day of typhus and starvation when the Allies arrived.

More emaciated bodies are piled in one of the many shallow graves that surrounded the camp, located in northern Germany.

More emaciated bodies are piled in one of the many shallow graves that surrounded the camp, located in northern Germany.

Belsen 1

Inside one of the camp hut, the sick and the dying huddle on the floor.

Belsen 2

British soldiers and German locals helped to bury the dead in the days after the camp was liberated 70 years ago.

CMK Parsons

Charles Martin King Parsons CF an Army Chaplain with the 9th British General Hospital during World War 2 in  his uniform, colorized by his great-grandson Tom Marshall.

Credits to Photographer: Charles Martin King Parsons, Collection: Tom Marshall
Sources used: PhotograFix, Wikipedia

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Argunners Magazine is an independent online historian and collector's magazine, dedicated to the militaria and history of both Axis and Allied powers during the World War 1 & 2. Argunners is a central resource offering the latest militaria and war history news, journals, articles and press releases related to these themes.

7 Comments

  1. I visited the BB memorial site, which helped me understand a little of what my Mum went through there. Well worth the drive.

  2. I don’t have any pictures, but every time I see pictures of Bergen-Belsen, I look for my grandmother and her family–she survived this camp, and she and my grandfather met in the DP camp. I have yet to see any of them, but I’ll keep looking.

  3. Brenda Barker PR4 6TT on

    I read the article in Tarleton Parish magazine, my father was also in Belsen with the Royal Engineers, He used to tell me what it was like there, and had some photo’s which I sent via a friend of mine to the Holocaust Museum, he was on one of the photo’s standing over a mass grave with a rifle in his hands. I live in Tarleton my dad was from Hoole. I am going to get in touch with Joan Wynne if possible and talk to her about it.
    Brenda Barker.

    • Judith Dunningham on

      My father was also among the allied troops that helped the survivors of Belsen. He was in the RAF. As far as I understand it and from the research I have done, I think that his Unit was tasked with going out and “liberating” clothing and bedding for the survivors from the local population. I cannot ask him as he died several years ago but he never forgot what he saw and talked about it extensively to my son over a 24 hour period a few months before he died. I was not there, although I would have liked to have been to hear what he had to say. If anyone knows of any RAF Units that were there at that time and can give me some more information I would be very grateful. If anyone remebers my father and can give me information that would be a bonus. His name was Mick Cantwell and he would have been in his mid-twenties at the time I think. I know this because I was born in Dec 44 and Belsen was liberated in April 45. It is horrific to know that these terrible events happened in my lifetime and also to know that we have not learned anything from them and racial and religious conflict and persecution still exists today. It makes me very sad.

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