- Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp
Near the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, British forces established a displaced persons (DP) camp for refugees after
World War II. The site used abandoned German army Panzerbarracks for housing facilities, and after November of 1945, Jewish refugees were given their own section. The camp was the largest DP camp in Germany with 11,000 residents in 1946 and the only exclusively Jewish facility in the British sector.
The British authorities tried to rename the camp
Hohneto avoid the association with Nazi genocideat the concentration camp nearby, but the Holocaustsurvivors who were residents (" Sh'erit ha-Pletah") in the camp refused to accept the name change and persisted in calling the DP camp Bergen-Belsen.
The camp included a hospital, which after a time was renamed the [http://baor-locations.com/glynnhughes.aspx Glynn Hughes Hospital] after the first
medical officerwho entered Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
In 1946, the DP camp housed over 11,000 Jews. Though Bergen-Belsen was the only all-Jewish camp in the British zone of Germany, the camp's survivors struggled with the British before securing an exclusively Jewish community.
The leader of the camp,
Josef Rosensaftorganized the first Central Committee of Liberated Jewsin the camp, an organization that grew to be the main organization of its kind in Europe. Under the stewardship of Rosensaft and Norbert Wollheim, the Committee grew into an organization that lobbied the British on behalf of the DPs' political, social, and cultural aims, including the right to emigrate to British-controlled Palestine.
The refugees maintained active opposition to British restrictions on Jewish immigration to the
British Mandate of Palestine, and until 1949 (well after the establishment of the State of Israel), British authorities did not allow free passage in and out of the camp. In 1946, administrative responsibility for the camp passed to the UNRRA, though British occupying forces maintained security around the camp. Nevertheless, the Haganahestablished secret training programmes on the camp grounds in December of 1947.
For their part, the refugees organized a vibrant community within the camp. Schools were established within months of the liberation, and at one point there were 20 weddings every day in the camp. A newspaper known as "Unzer Stimme" (Yiddish for "Our Voice") was published by the camp and was the main Jewish newspaper in the British sector. The DPs founded an elementary school as early as July 1945, and by 1948, 340 pupils attended the school. A high school, which was staffed partly by soldiers from the
Jewish Brigade(the Palestinian Jewish unit of the British Army) was established in December 1945. The DPs also provided education for the children of Bergen-Belsen. There was a kindergarten, an orphanage, and a yeshiva(a religious school). The Organization for Rehabilitation through Training(ORT) vocational training schools organized occupational education.
By 1951, the camp was vacated, the majority of refugees having emigrated to the State of Israel.
* United States Holocaust Memorial Museum [http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10007066 Bergen-Belsen DP Camp]
* [http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/site/pp.asp?c=gvKVLcMVIuG&b=395187 "British Policy Toward East European Refugees in Germany and Austria, 1945-1947", by Arieh J. Kochavi]
:"This article incorporates text from the
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and has been released under the GFDL."
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