70th anniversary liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

Belsen, during the 70th anniversary of Liberation

Jonathan Dimbleby has revealed that the BBC censored his father’s reference to Jews when, in 1945, Richard Dimbleby reported on the liberation of Belsen concentration camp.

The shocking revelation about the famous broadcast came in an interview ahead of his two-part TV documentary, called ‘The BBC at War,’ which begins next month.

Jonathan said: “It was, I think because the BBC needed more sources to support what had happened to the Jews, and worries that, if you mentioned one group of people and not others, it might seem biased or wrong.”

The vast majority of prisoners at Belsen were Jewish, although others were there because they were gay, Roma, Polish or Czech. The camp’s liberators found 60,000 starving prisoners and 13,000 unburied bodies.

Richard Dimbleby, who died in 1965, reported at the time: “Here over an acre of ground lay dead of dying people. You could not see which was which, except perhaps for a convulsive movement.”

His broadcast was initially rejected by BBC bosses in its entirety, and it was only when the veteran reporter threatened to resign that an edited version was played, cut from 11 minutes to six.

In April this year, Jonathan said he was told by a Jewish group in Manchester that his father was “a hero” for breaking such an important story.

Ahead of the documentary, Jonathan added: “Broadcasters have a real problem with war. You are subject to scrutiny and pressure which newspapers do not have. At times the BBC reaches for the safety of a security blanket.”