Commemoration ceremonies take place at Nazi concentration camp sites

Commemoration ceremonies have taken place at two Nazi concentration camps marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two.

The ceremony at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was attended by camp survivors, the German president Gauck and the UK’s Duke of Gloucester. British troops liberated the camp in April 1945. In total around 200,000 people were sent to Bergen-Belsen during the war, with more than 70,000 of them dying at the camp. They included Anne Frank, who authored her diaries throughout the war. Around 10,000 of those dead bodies were found around the camp by the liberating troops, the others had been buried at sites surrounding the camp in mass graves.

The ceremony took place on the site of the concentration camp at the memorial which has now been built there.

German president Gauck gave thanks to the liberating forces, and to the Allies for being ambassadors of democracy, The Washington Post reports.

Members of the World Jewish Congress were also in attendance and commented that the site is one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the world, yet there is not one gravestone.

Commemoration ceremonies continue to be held across Europe and all those countries involved in the war. As the 70th anniversary has arrived, it has become more poignant since there are fewer survivors and witnesses alive who can continue to tell their experiences of what happened.

Jewish groups cautioned at the ceremony that now there has been a resurgence in anti-Semitism and that it is a sad day that a Jewish person cannot walk down the street without fearing for his or her life.

The other commemoration ceremony was held at the site of the Flossenbuerg concentration camp in the south of Germany. Flossenbuerg was liberated by American troops around the same time as Bergen-Belsen. More than 30,000 people died at Flossenbuerg during the war.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE