V-E Day: A Gigantic Death Camp

It was called Provisional Camp Bergen-Belsen because, unlike other concentration camps, it was originally designed as a "holding pen" for Jews who were to be exchanged for German prisoners of war. Established in 1943, near Hanover in northwestern Germany, Bergen-Belsen was built to contain 10,000 prisoners and was run, like all the camps, by the SS. In 1944 the commandant, SS Major Josef Kramer, later known as the Beast of Belsen, began accepting inmates from other camps who were too frail to continue their slave labor. The population of 15,000 Jews was swollen by thousands of new prisoners, most of them...

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