hms iron duke

hms iron duke

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Belsen

Alphen, Netherlands. 15 April. Seventy years ago this morning elements of the 11th Armoured Division, British 2nd Army (Lt. General Miles Dempsey) liberated the notorious Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp.  What the British soldiers discovered upon arrival was hell on earth. Twenty of the eighty remaining guards were immediately executed on the spot, "for mutiny".  The Camp Commandant was arrested and later that year hanged with five other members of his command group.

It is unclear how many were murdered in the typhus-ridden camp but it certainly numbers in the hundreds of thousands at least. The British Army erected a sign which read, "This is the site of the Infamous Belsen Concentration Camp liberated by the British on 15 April, 1945.  10,000 unburied dead were found here. Another 13,000 have died since.  All of the them victims of the German new order in Europe and an example of Nazi kultur".

Commentary: modern Germany is utterly aware of the dark eloquence of this dark past which continues to inform its present and rightly so.  No European must ever forget what happened for the holocaust is and must be seared into the European soul.

However, perhaps the most eloquent commentary came from a simple British sergeant when some of the SS guards refused to help bury the dead.  "You f...... bastards created this mess. You f...... bastards can clear it up".

Never again!

Julian Lindley-French

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