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BBC – Belsen: Our Story (2020)

BBC Belsen Our Story

Using unique interviews with those who were there, this moving film reveals the true experience of life inside the infamous Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where over 50,000 people – mostly Jews – died, primarily from starvation and disease in the last phase of World War II.

As the Allied troops advanced into Germany through the winter of 1944, thousands of Jewish prisoners were evacuated from camps near the eastern front mostly through brutal forced marches. Bergen-Belsen’s population increased eight-fold to nearly 60,000. But unlike the infamous extermination or death camps such as Auschwitz or Treblinka, Belsen wasn’t designed specifically as a place for industrialised killing. It had no gas chambers. Instead, the prisoners were slaughtered by systematic neglect – many starved to death, others succumbed to typhus, tuberculosis, typhoid fever or dysentery, diseases that ravaged the camp, fostered by the lack of clean drinking water and minimal sanitation.

All that remains of Belsen today is a peaceful, grassy meadow, but its legacy lives on through the recollections of those who survived it. This is their story. Featuring powerful new interviews with some of the last remaining survivors of the Holocaust and dramatic reconstructions, the film also includes archive of the British liberation. Those liberators recount the moment they stumbled in the horror of Belsen. Confronted by the piles of unburied bodies, and the epidemics of disease, the British army felt they had no choice but to burn Bergen-Belsen to the ground – inadvertently reducing much of the evidence of the Nazis’ crimes to ashes. The oral histories of Belsen: Our Story ensures that story is not forgotten.

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