Holocaust awareness event pays tribute to Leicester soldiers who liberated Belsen in 1945

Posted by ap507 at May 08, 2015 12:45 PM |
University of Leicester free public lecture to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War to take place on 13 May

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 8 May 2015

The liberation of the Nazi death camp Belsen in April 1945 by the British Army, which included local soldiers, will be explored at a free public lecture on Wednesday 13 May.

The event is hosted by the University of Leicester’s Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

The Centre’s director, Dr Alexander Korb, will discuss the Belsen camp—in which 70,000 individuals died—and the camps significance for the Nazi Holocaust.

The Burton Centre’s founder, Professor Aubrey Newman, will pay tribute to those who liberated Belsen, including local soldiers, who were brought in to help rehabilitate survivors of the Holocaust.

Professor Newman said: “The usual icon for the Holocaust and the death camps is the great entrance tower to Auschwitz with the railway line passing through the gate. For me far more striking is the picture of the Belsen victim kissing the hand of the young squaddie who has just helped liberate the camp. It is a human reaction which still moves the emotions.”

When the British Army took over Belsen in April 1945 the camp contained over 60,000 inmates.

Some 37,000 people had died in the months before liberation, including Anne and Margot Frank, and unburied bodies lay all around the camp. Many of those who were still alive could hardly move out of their over-crowded bunks and 13,000 more were to die over the following ten weeks. 

“Nothing had prepared the world for these discoveries and the impact of Belsen was to be far greater than the later revelations of the organised killings at the death camps of Eastern Europe, primarily Auschwitz,” said Professor Newman.

96 students, drawn from the medical schools in London, were also brought in to help the British Army in the work of rehabilitation. The late David Hurwood, a local general practitioner, was one of the medical students involved.

The students’ work was invaluable and had an enormous impact upon their future careers.

The free public lecture, titled ‘Belsen, 1945’, is part of the University of Leicester’s Holocaust Awareness Lecture Series, and marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belsen and the end of the Second World War.

The lecture takes place on Wednesday 13 May between 7.00pm – 9:00pm in the Fraser Noble Building at the University of Leicester. 

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

For more information please contact Dr Alexander Korb on ak368@leicester.ac.uk

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