Former Wehrmacht barracks in Belsen: Open-air emergency hospital, 27 April 1945. Photo by Sgt. Oakes. Imperial War Museum, London, Photograph Archive, BU 4844.
The Displaced Persons Camp (1945-1950)
After the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was liberated by the British Army on 15 April 1945, the survivors were taken to the nearby Wehrmacht barracks where they received medical treatment. The former concentration camp prisoners and forced labourers who had been deported to Germany from all over Europe were given the status of “displaced persons” (DPs) by the Allies. This status gave them the right to special assistance and care.
Most of the survivors returned to their countries of origin, but many – primarily Jewish and Polish former prisoners – remained in Bergen-Belsen. These DPs were initially housed together on the orders of the British military government, but from June 1945 separate living areas were established for the two groups.
At times, there were up to 10,000 people living in the Polish DP camp at Bergen-Belsen, which was disbanded in September 1946. The Jewish DP camp held up to 12,000 people. This camp was closed in September 1950.