In Nazi occupied Europe, concentration camps were springing up everywhere. One in particular that started small would soon rise from the bottom to become one of the biggest camps during World War II. It would be liable for the death of thousands. Forever it will be a model of what hatred and judgment can become if permitted to rule over all. Our past becomes a lesson for humanity to learn from. The Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, although tragic, can be looked at as a stepping stone of our maturing society.
Belsen had a rocky beginning but rapidly rose to one be one of most well-known camps of the Holocaust. The Belsen base camp was founded in 1940 by German military officers (Vallentine). Located south of the two villages Bergen and Belse, the camp is correspondingly eleven miles from Celle, Germany (Vallentine). Strictly a prisoner of war camp until 1943, the Belsen concentration camp held thousands of prisoners (Vallentine). During its reign, the Bergen-Belsen camp held Jews, prisoners of war, Gypsies, political prisoners, criminals, homosexuals, and Jehovah Witnesses (Vallentine). The camp was later to become one of the most notorious.
There were few survivors compared to the number that entered Bergen-Belsen. Of these were Leslie Meisels and Agnes Sassoon. Meisels stated that he remembers the camp clearly (“York Region Man to Share Story of Struggle in Concentration Camp). He believes that he was alive simply because of blessing and faith (“York Region Man to Share Story of Struggle in Concentration Camp). Each day, Meisels recalls, he was fed soggy turnip soup and a slice of bread ("York Region Man to Share Story of Struggle in Concentration Camp"). He weighed a meager seventy-five pounds upon release, losing a hundred pounds ("York Region Man to Share Story of Struggle in Concentration Camp"). Meisels’ experience left him with a conviction to tell his story and encourage others to take a stand against persecution and judgment.
Another victim, Agnes Sassoon, shared her account. In October 1944, she went to a Jewish school in Budapest (Doerry). After classes one day, she and the rest of her peers were forced to board Nazi vehicles (Doerry). An unfamiliar lady, told her to say that she was her daughter so she was allowed to board the adult truck; none of the other children were heard from again (Doerry). Sadly, none of the children’s parents were notified (Doerry). Sassoon recalls witnessing elderly and fragile dying due to the circumstances (Doerry). She was forced to go on death marches, cram into cattle carts, and occasionally relocate by automobile (Doerry). When interviewed, she has no memory of any Nazi showing her any sympathy (Doerry). When the war ended, Sassoon was being held in the Belsen concentration camp (Doerry). Agness, too, used her story as an example for what persecution can evolve into.
Bergen-Belsen was catastrophic by the time it was liberated. It was freed on April 15th, 1945 ("1945: British Troops Liberate...