New center for reflection planned for Bergen-Belsen

By Deidre Berger

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

FRANKFURT, Dec. 20 (JTA) — Plans are being finalized for a non-denominational sanctuary space to be built on the grounds of the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.


The planned center will augment an exhibition space built after World War II on the former concentration camp grounds. After it liberated the camp in March 1945, the British army destroyed the buildings on the site, to reduce the spread of infectious diseases rampant among prisoners due to the lack of food, clothes and hygienic facilities.

An estimated 100,000 prisoners died at Bergen-Belsen, including 50,000 Soviet prisoners of war. Some 50,000 people, including Jews and political prisoners, died from hunger and disease before and shortly after the camp was liberated by the British army.

Anne Frank, whose diaries later became one of the best-read documents on the Holocaust, died at the camp several weeks before its liberation.