Survivors and Army at Belsen to mark 76th anniversary of liberation by Britain
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Survivors and Army at Belsen to mark 76th anniversary of liberation by Britain

'It’s hard to imagine what the British forces would have stumbled upon in April 1945', the head of March of the Living said. It 'was not as a death camp but a camp of death'

From left: Col. Dickie Winchester, Harry Olmer, Mala Tribich, Scott Saunders, Eve Kugler, Alfred Garwood and Lt. Col. Simon Ledger (Sam Churchill Photography)
From left: Col. Dickie Winchester, Harry Olmer, Mala Tribich, Scott Saunders, Eve Kugler, Alfred Garwood and Lt. Col. Simon Ledger (Sam Churchill Photography)

British Holocaust survivors were this week able to thank the British Army for its liberation and life-saving administration of Bergen-Belsen
76 years ago in a moving ceremony at the site of the former camp in Germany.

“It’s hard to imagine what the British forces would have stumbled upon in April 1945,” said Scott Saunders, founder and chairman of March of the Living UK (MOTL), addressing 80 participants at the culmination of the organisation’s inaugural four-day Germany trip, as two senior British officers stood in attendance.

The four British survivors to attend the ceremony on Monday were Alfred Garwood, Eve Kugler, Harry (Chaim) Olmer and Mala Tribich, with Alfred and Mala having been through the camp and survived it.

Present at the invitation of MOTL were Lt. Col. Simon Ledger, late of the Light Dragoons, who was a Bergen-Belsen visitor guide in 1976, and Col. Dickie Winchester, late of the Royal Artillery (RA), representing the serving British Army and its association with the liberation of the camp, in particular its 64 Anti-Tank Regiment, which was the first to enter.

“The trip we wanted to do in 2020, to commemorate the 75-year anniversary of the liberation, was curtailed because of Covid, but we took the opportunity to come this week, and it’s been very moving,” said Saunders.

Describing Bergen-Belsen as “not a death camp, but a camp of death”, educators explained how decontaminating the area of typhus and typhoid meant the camp was burned to the ground by British soldiers after thousands of survivors were relocated to hospital beds away from the barracks, to be nursed back to health where possible.

Mala Tribich, in the middle, remembers those who died at Belsen (Sam Churchill Photography)

Many – including Mala – were “brought back to life”, but extreme starvation meant that, even with care, a staggering 14,000 people died after liberation. Today, the site comprises mainly monuments, fields and woodland.

A NATO military range, established after the war, remains in use, with live fire during the MOTL visit. Speeches were given to the eerie backdrop of shelling, drones, and machine gun fire. “It is strange to hear that in the
background,” said Saunders.

 

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments