Today, 15th April 2015, marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp by British troops in World War II.
Bergen-Belsen is where Anne Frank, her sister Margot, and tens of thousands of Jewish men and women were murdered. Zdenka Fantlova, a survivor of the Holocaust, went through six concentration camps (including Auschwitz, which is where her mother died) and describes Bergen-Belsen as the worst of all the camps.
When heading to the camp she recalls seeing the scenery and thinking “It’s so beautiful, nothing bad can happen to us here.” She continues, “the hell, it was the worst camp of all”.
By the time the camp was liberated, around 500 people were dying in the camp per day. The death toll was so great that their Nazi captors had given up burying the bodies and simply piled them up in the woods nearby. There were around 10,000 bodies when British troops arrived.
Zdenka was freed from Bergen-Beslen on 15th April 1945 when the camp was liberated. Now fragile and emaciated, she was loaded onto an already overloaded ambulance. She was taken to a field hospital, cared for and brought back to strength. She, along with 60,000 others were freed that day. Unfortunately, around 13,000 of those freed went on to die in the weeks following. The damage done to them was too great to recover from.
The horrors of the Holocaust are often too much to bear. Survivors and their liberators are haunted by what they have witnessed and experienced. They cannot forget, and we must never forget. The threat that existed during World War II still exists today and we must be fervent in our prayers and continue to speak up for Israel and the Jewish people.
Today, please remember the Holocaust survivors in your prayers and the men and women who fought for our freedom and the freedom of others. They still wear the scars, both mentally and physically, and we thank God for their bravery and sacrifice in the face of such evil.
(CUFI – UK)