Although the 15th April 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Bergen Belsen by the 11th Armoured Division of the British Army, the anniversary will be formally marked by an international ceremony on the site of the former camp on Sunday 26th April. The Holocaust Educational Trust will be playing a key part and the College have been fortunate enough to secure places for Year 10 students Hannah Vaughan and Rebecca Acock to become Holocaust Education Trust Ambassadors and attend the ceremony.
The liberation of Belsen by British soldiers in 1945 did much to shape British awareness and understanding of the Holocaust, and this year is likely to be the last significant anniversary to be marked with the inclusion of eyewitnesses and those who survived.
Marking the anniversary, Karen Pollock MBE, Chief executive of the Holocaust Education Trust said: ‘This year, as we mark 70 years since the liberation of Bergen-Belsen by the 11th Armoured Division,we pause to remember the kindness and courage shown by British armoured forces when they brought freedom to the Jewish people imprisoned there. We are delighted to be taking 200 of our Ambassadors, teachers and supporters to participate in the international commemorations and pay our respects on this important anniversary’
Rebecca Acock and Hannah Vaughan were superb Ambassadors for the School on the visit to Bergen Belsen. As some of the youngest participants on the visit, most others were actually university students, they played a key part in the day. They took part in 3 Commemoration services. 2 were actually on the Memorial Park and were accompanied by The Shabbaton Choir. They also had the opportunity to visit the Documentation Centre where there was vast collection of artefacts relating to the camp and liberation. Some of these sights were particularly horrific, and will be lasting memories of the horrors of the Nazi period.
The ceremony at The Jewish Cemetery, Hohn Station proved to be particularly poignant. It was attended by survivors and eyewitness to the camp and the liberation of it. It was opened by Rabbi reuben Livingstone who explained that his existence was only possible due to the liberation of the camp by the British. This was the last service that will be held at this site as the British Garrisson will be handed back to the Germans by the end of the year.
Rebecca and Hannah were fortunate enough to be part of this and placed stones on the graves of Jewish people who died after the liberation. They also herd the testimony of Bernard Levi, one of the servicemen who entered the camp in the aftermath of April 1945. The entire day proved to be moving and as Rebecca commented ‘memorable for all the wrong reasons.’ It was certainly a life changing experience, and one that is likely to remain with all of the participants throughout their lives.