Historical grounds of the camp
Touring the grounds of the former camp
The Memorial encompasses the entire historical grounds of the former camp. There are two ways to reach the grounds: by crossing Anne-Frank-Platz from the car park and passing through the gate in the wall around the Memorial, or by taking the path through the Documentation Centre. This path ends at a plateau with two relief models of the POW and concentration camp. The plateau is located in a long swathe of lawn in the middle of the former camp.
An explanatory information system has been installed in the grounds. The individual sections of the camp are marked by eight relief models located along the edges of the swathe of lawn, which runs parallel to the former main street of the camp. Seventeen panels placed throughout the grounds feature short texts and photographs with information about the camp’s history.
Flyer: Documentation Centre, Cemetery, Historical Grounds of the Camp
The victims of Bergen-Belsen who died in the concentration camp in the final weeks before and immediately after the liberation are buried in thirteen mass graves and fifteen individual graves. When British troops reached the camp on 15 April 1945, they found more than 10,000 bodies, which they quickly buried in hastily dug pits in the grounds of the camp to prevent an epidemic.
Most of the mass graves are located in the western section of the former camp, not far from the obelisk and inscription wall. Since the 1960s, the graves have been surrounded by low stone walls in which the number of victims in each grave has been chiselled. Nearly 20,000 victims of the Bergen-Belsen POW camp are buried in a cemetery around 600 metres from the former camp.
Monuments and memorial markers
Monuments and memorial markers
The victims of the POW and concentration camp are commemorated by a variety of memorial markers from different time periods. The first was a wooden monument placed by Jewish survivors in the autumn of 1945; the stone successor to this monument still stands today. It is surrounded by monuments placed by friends and relatives of the victims, including a gravestone for the sisters Anne and Margot Frank, who were buried in one of the mass graves. Polish survivors unveiled a wooden cross on the Catholic holiday of All Souls’ Day in November 1945.
The obelisk, which can be seen from afar, and the inscription wall were both erected on the orders of the British military government and dedicated in February 1952.Today this wall bears inscriptions from many of the nations who lost citizens in Bergen-Belsen, as well as inscriptions in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Latin. Words commemorating the Sinti victims of Bergen-Belsen were added in 1981.
A walk-in monument known as the House of Silence was erected outside of the grounds of the former camp in 2000.
Structural remains from the former camp can be found in many areas, including foundations and flooring from the huts, paved paths, fire water reservoirs, and latrine shafts. Most of these remains are located in the eastern section of the grounds. In the landscaped western section – near the obelisk – structural remains were removed in the post-war period.
In 1991, youth groups in Lower Saxony began excavating these remnants. The forward section of the former camp, on the road from Winsen/Aller to Bergen, did not officially become part of the Memorial until 2009.The foundation walls of a prisoner delousing facility, among other things, were found near the former main camp gate on this road. They were protected and reinforced in 2016.