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 First into Belsen Death Canmp?

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malaboman
SSgt/CSgt
SSgt/CSgt


Number of posts : 41
Localisation : Harrogate, UK
Cap Badge : REME
Places Served : Deepcut, Arborfield, Gosport,Osnabruck, Minden, Aden, Berlin.
Registration date : 2009-07-12

PostSubject: First into Belsen Death Canmp?   15/7/2009, 07:36

In August 2008 Livingstone P. wrote about his father who was with the Armour across N. Germany and ends with the phrase "...first into Bergen-Belsen."
I have just completed reading a new(ish) book by Gavin Mortimer, entitled "Stirling's Men" which I would highly recommend.
It is the story of all bracnches of the SAS (1- 5 SAS including the Belgian Detachment) from Day 1 in North Africa to the end of WWII with 1 and 2 SAS on the Elbe, then going to Norway for "clean-up"operations.
Most of the information in the book I knew of but where I found new stuff is in the operations in North Holland then across through Cloppenburg and the North German plain against fanatical resistance, to Nienburg then Celle.
In Celle there was a Concentration camp which was an Annex to Bergen Belsen. The Armour of 21st Army Group got there first and 2 SAS went into the camp at 0500 11 Apr 45 (joe Patterson and others).
On 15 April 45 1 SAS reached Belsen, the first Allied troops to get there.
The party contained Duncan Ridler, John Randall, Vic Long, Peter Weaver, Reg Seekings and others. Apparently they were not too gentle with the Guards - can't think why !!!!!
They were ordered to stay there until help came, this came at 4.00pm that day in the form of a fumigation truck and the first ones fumigated were the SAS party as they had to push on. Only Peter Weaver stayed on, as interpreter to Lt.Col. Taylor OIC 63 Anti Tank Regiment RA who were the first troops to stay any length of time in Belsen.
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Stephen Lock
Maj Gen
Maj Gen
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Number of posts : 937
Age : 63
Localisation : Calgary
Cap Badge : Pads Brat
Places Served : Father -- Canadian Army. Served Hemer, Soest, and Wetter
Registration date : 2007-12-28

PostSubject: Re: First into Belsen Death Canmp?   17/7/2009, 02:26

When my parents and I were stationed in Germany, my dad wanted to visit some of the concentration camps...I forget which ones...Belsen, perhaps or Buchenwald. Auswitz was off-limits of course,being in Poland which,at the time was behind the Iron Curtain. Mom kyboshed that idea.

I'm not sure how I feel about visiting any of the camps. I certainly think to do so is important -- we must never forget -- but I suspect the impact might be a bit more than I could handle.

I have a strong affinity towards Judaism and have long suspected my maternal ancestors were, many many years ago, English Jews who converted...back in the 1600s or 1700s when there was a "movement" of mass conversion -- forced or otherwise (I suspect forced) -- but of course my very English Nana, genteel and oh-so-proper, would have denied it. I asked my mom once and she said something to the effect of "Oh Stephen, don't ever ask Nana about that!!" However, the family name on that side is a very English Jewish name, or often is, (Jacobs) hence my wondering. Apparently "Jacob" is of Jacobean-origin but "Jacobs" is almost always Jewish.

I think visitng the camps would tap into that too strongly. Even seeing the photos of the camps fills me with dread and "icky-ness", I find them very upsetting on a host of levels. I think anyone would, of course.

I've heard from those who have visited Auschwitz, for instance, that there is an air of darkness, depression, greyness, whatever you want to call it, that lingers still. It wouldn't surprise me. So much horror and desperation and hopelessness couldn't help but leave a residual atmosphere.
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malaboman
SSgt/CSgt
SSgt/CSgt


Number of posts : 41
Localisation : Harrogate, UK
Cap Badge : REME
Places Served : Deepcut, Arborfield, Gosport,Osnabruck, Minden, Aden, Berlin.
Registration date : 2009-07-12

PostSubject: Re: First into Belsen Death Canmp?   17/7/2009, 09:19

Stephen, you may be right about your origins but remember there was a Jacob in the Old Testament too.
I have been to Dachau (2008) as well as Belsen, even though both are well-sanitised, it does not ake too much imagination to think what it may have been like, though we cannot guess about the stench.
It is a frightening thought that both Stalin and Mao Tse Tung killed more of their own people than the Nazis killed in total (all nationalities). The older I get, the more I am amazed at the capacity of humans to kill humans. Just look at the God-forsaken mess that is Africa today, mass murders in nearly every country and I speak as someone who has worked there twice in the last 10 years. We Eurpoeans cannot rest easy either when you think of the Balkan wars recently. Are we all mad or what?
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Stephen Lock
Maj Gen
Maj Gen
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Number of posts : 937
Age : 63
Localisation : Calgary
Cap Badge : Pads Brat
Places Served : Father -- Canadian Army. Served Hemer, Soest, and Wetter
Registration date : 2007-12-28

PostSubject: Re: First into Belsen Death Canmp?   18/7/2009, 05:01

yes, malaboman, Jacob -- as a given name -- is Hebrew hence Jewish. But Jacob as a surname vs Jacobs as a surname was what I was on about.

On the surface, anyway, it would seem a Jewish given name like Jacob as a surname would naturally mean a Jewish surname, but apparently that's not necessarily the case.

I forget the details now, and where I read this, but the name "Jacobs" is almost always a Jewish surname, specifically English Jewish. "Jacob" can be, but not necessarily.

I am aware of the stats of Nazis vs Stalin vs Mao Tse Tung (I also prefer this spelling to "Mao Zedung/Zedong") or Stalinists vs Maoists when it comes to the sheer numbers of those murdered by these men. I think Nazis and Hitler tend to take the lion's share of public notice because he was "the first" to inact such large scale killings in modern history (and Stalin was an ally of British/American interests and so much was ignored/glossed over).

Clearly, there were other genocidal rulers during various periods of history, but they are not seen as 'genocidal' per se, but seen in other perspectives....Ivan the Terrible killed thousands (and given the population numbers of his time, that would be equivalent, I would suggest, to millions now) yet he is not seen as having been guilty of genocide. Attila the Hun, Ghengis Khan, the Visigoths, The Vandals, the Romans themselves, the Crusaders, the Saracens, the Ottomans...all slaughtered enormous numbers of people, often specific groups of people (i.e. ethnic groups) but history has "chosen" to view those, as terrible as they were, not as genocidal but as some sort of byproduct of conquering/war/empire. The term "genocide" of course was not coined until after Shoa/The Holocaust, so that is one reason, probably.

I don't know what it is in the human psyche that makes it even possible for us to commit mass murder/genocide on the one hand and create beautiful, inspiring works of music, art, literature and architecture on the other. We're an odd species, aren't we? Intelligent yet so bloody stupid....
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Locator
SSgt/CSgt
SSgt/CSgt


Number of posts : 45
Age : 73
Localisation : Stamford, Lincs
Cap Badge : RA
Places Served : Munsterlager, Dortmund, Bergen-Hohne, Larkhill, Celle, as well as NI (x4), Canada, Paris and Catterick
Registration date : 2008-08-15

PostSubject: Re: First into Belsen Death Canmp?   30/10/2011, 14:11

My first trip to Germany with the Army was in 1967 and we were stationed at Trauen Camp just a few kms N of Bergen-Hohne. One weekend, a few of us went down to Belsen for a look. Of course it wasn't a Death Camp in the same way that Auschwitz was but many thousands died there, mainly from Typhus and starvation. Gloomy and absolutely silent even in late July. The coniferous trees were entirely devoid of greenery and no birds sang. But of course it was barely 20 years after the place had been rased to the ground. Later, in the 80s, I was stationed in Haig Bks just up the road and again visited Belsen, now full of monuments both private and public.The trees opposite the entance had all gone - swept away by a forest fire in'74, and saplings were growing in their place. Wildlife had also returned.

In '95, whilst I was in Paris as MA, I was invited to the unveiling of a new memorial in Pere Lachaise in memory of the victims of Belsen - it being the 50th Anniversary of the Liberation. Afterwards, I met some of the survivors (many of whom were not Jewish) and a few lads who had been with 63 ATk Regt, strangely enough equipped with Bofors in the ground role at the time as well as one bty of 17pdrs.
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burgess720
WOI
WOI


Number of posts : 122
Registration date : 2008-07-09

PostSubject: Re: First into Belsen Death Canmp?   31/10/2011, 00:51

Hi all,

I must have visited the site in 1951 or 1952 but was not sure which camp, but I do remember a lot of coniferous trees; were they opposite the main gate?
And yes no birds and very silent place; we just stood still and did not speak for a while, amazing

Regards Tony RE
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dandc
Lt Col
Lt Col
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Number of posts : 382
Age : 67
Localisation : gateshead
Cap Badge : 15/19H.ARMY AIR CORPS
Places Served : tidworth, fallingbostle, detmold, hongkong, minden
Registration date : 2009-05-22

PostSubject: Re: First into Belsen Death Canmp?   31/10/2011, 12:18

my uncle [ deceased ] was in the RA during ww2,he entered europe through the back door,via, north africa,scicily and italy,stopping off along the way at places like mt casino and various other small battles.he was a quiet man and never talked much about the war,my mother said that for years after the war he used to wake up through the night screaming at his nightmares,when we managed to get our first telly in the 60s, [ money was tight ] one night while watching a program about belsen he just said casual like, i was there, then the family started to relise why he was having nightmares.then the the powers that be called him up for korea as well.
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