Full horror of Nazi rule revealed at Belsen camp
Victory in Europe
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Saturday 15 April 1995
15 April 1945: British soldiers enter a large camp near the village of Belsen. One senior officer describes the camp as "the most horrible, frightful place I have ever seen".
The Bergen-Belsen concentration camp contains 40,000 inmates, many beyond medical help. In the last few months reports suggest 30,000 people have died in Belsen.
Many of the inmates are suffering from starvation, typhus, typhoid and tuberculosis. Mounds of rotting corpses cover the camp. One heap measures 80 yards in length, 30 yards wide, four feet high. Despite medical help 600 newly dead are buried today.
With the liberation of Buchenwald and now Bergen-Belsen, the Nazis' systematic attempt to wipe out the Jews in Europe is an open horror story.
As fighting continues along the Western Front, Allied forces finally succeed in splitting the Ruhr pocket. Hitler's order, that the two pockets, containing a total of 300,000 troops should "rejoin" is merely glanced at by the German Field Marshal Model.However, there is still no official German capitulation.
Meanwhile, the Canadian First Army completes the capture of Arnhem, other Canadian troops approach Gronigen and the British Second Army advances towards Bremen.
Lieutenant-General William Simpson flies to US Twelfth Army tactical headquarters in Weisbaden. He plans to tell General Bradley and then Eisenhower, that his troops can be in Berlin in 24 hours. But Bradley tells him to stop where he is as Eisenhower is sticking to his broad front plan to avoid heavy casualties.
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