Bergen-Belsen after liberation

As Allied forces approached Germany in late 1944 and early 1945, Bergen-Belsen became a collection camp for tens of thousands of prisoners evacuated from camps near the front. Thousands of these prisoners died due to overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions, and lack of adequate food and shelter. On April 15, 1945, British soldiers entered Bergen-Belsen. They found 60,000 prisoners in the camp, most in a critical condition. This footage shows Allied cameramen filming the condition of the prisoners and the filthy conditions found in Bergen-Belsen after liberation.


Most of the people seemed to be listless beyond hope and astonishment. Hunger had probably affected them that way. We discovered that among this stench of disease and decay was something a bit worse than hunger. Moving vaguely on rickety skeleton legs they were too ill to eat. How grateful they were for a kindly word or gesture. What misery to live among such unmentionable filth, with scarcely the strength to pick the lice which inevitably swarmed over them. They seemed accustomed to the smell and the horror. They had seen all there was to see. Huts were almost impossible to go near. They were full of tangled masses of people who had died slowly and painfully of starvation and disease, writhing in agony, helpless in puddles of excrement. It was difficult to imagine those orchards now, those rich fields where the stolid cattle cropped the juicy grass. For here, a few minutes away inside the barbed wire, was nothing but filth and death.


  • Imperial War Museum - Film Archive
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