Rebirth After the Holocaust: Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp, 1945 – 1950: This exhibit depicts the true story of Jewish survivors who, after experiencing the horrors of the Holocaust, rebuilt their lives from the ground up in the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp.
Bergen-Belsen was one of Nazi Germany’s most infamous concentration camps. Shortly after liberation, British soldiers burned the camp to the ground to halt the spread of disease. Survivors were relocated to former military barracks nearby where they were disinfected, clothed and fed. They insisted on retaining the name of the original camp, and it became the known as the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons (DP) Camp. By 1946, the camp housed more than 11,000 Jews, making it the largest DP camp in Europe. It was the only exclusively Jewish DP camp in the British zone of Germany.
Eager to regain control over their lives, the Bergen-Belsen survivors formed a camp committee three days after liberation. The committee soon organized cultural, religious and political activities for the survivors.
All too familiar with death and darkness, residents of the camp took every opportunity they had to celebrate life and light. With an average of twenty weddings in the camp each day, over 2,000 children were born in the months after liberation. Survivors and service providers established an elementary school, a high school, an orphanage and a yeshiva.
The exhibit, organized by the World Federation of Bergen-Belsen Associations, is presented by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum.