Prisoners in the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. Introduction by Peter Landé
This database contains 29,105 records of Jewish prisoners of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, as published in Gedenkbuch Häftlinge des Konzentrationslagers Bergen-Belsen (Lohheide: Stuftung Niedersächsische Gedenkstätten, Gedenkstätte Bergen-Belsen, 2005). [1,176 pages in two volumes. OCLC: #62300090, #438364376.]
The total number of prisoners in the Bergen-Belsen is estimated to have been around 120,000. Shortly before the liberation, the SS burnt the camp’s records. Thus the most important name-related source concerning the history of this camp and of the people detained in it was irretrievably lost. In order to draw up a new list of names, it was therefore necessary to compile the prisoners’ names and biographical data from parallel and alternative records. These parallel records were made at different times by different authors for a wide range of motives. This is why the existing sources occasionally contain contradictory information about a person.
This made a particularly careful examination of the existing data necessary, as well as the drawing up of registration criteria which can be justified from the historiographic point of view and can be applied to each individual case. In addition, it was necessary to agree on a formal standardization with regard to the way names were written, additions to names, abbreviations, and the use of capitals and small letters. As a matter of principle, the information about a person found in the individual sources was included in the list of names in the form in which it was found.
An exception was when the data proved to be incorrect after a comparison with other sources or as a result of additional information from survivors of Bergen-Belsen or from relatives of former prisoners.
The person-related sources still in existence are not evenly distributed over the various camp sections, groups of prisoners, and phases of the camp’s history. While the records are comparatively good for the “Detention Camp”, in which the Jewish prisoners intended for exchange were detained, there are significantly fewer names and biographical data for the prisoners deported to Bergen-Belsen after the end of 1944 in the course of the evacuation of camps near the front.
Almost all the names of the roughly 5,500 prisoners of the “Star Camp” are known. Josef Weiss, the deputy “Senior Jewish Prisoner” of this section of the camp, had the lists held by the SS secretly copied and kept the copies until his liberation.
The names and associated data of more than 6,000 prisoners in the “Hungarians’ Camp” have been almost completely salvaged. In part thanks to the deputy “Senior Jewish Prisoner”, Ladislaus Török, who secretly made copies of official lists, and in part also thanks to the contemporary list of names of the Kasztner group taken to Switzerland at the end of 1944. Most of the prisoners of the considerably smaller “Neutrals’ Camp” are also known. In contrast, the names and data of most of the people in the “Special Camp”, especially those of the approximately 1,800 Polish Jews deported to Auschwitz in October 1943 and murdered there, are still unknown.
The information on those prisoners who came to Bergen-Belsen from other camps and working commands of other concentration camps within the system of concentration camp forced labour, many of whom were deported further from here, is fragmentary. The lists of transports (e.g.: from Buchenwald) and number books from other concentration camps (e.g. Flossenbürg) provide a source here.
The gaps in the information are especially large, above all, during the last months before liberation. Thus, of the more than 15,000 male prisoners who were taken from the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp and its external camps in April 1945 and moved to the nearby Wehrmacht barracks complex, only a few hundred are known. The transports with tens of thousands of people from Auschwitz, Groß-Rosen, Natzweiler, Neuengamme, Ravensbrück, Sachsenhausen and the attached external camps, which arrived in Bergen-Belsen in 1945, are just as poorly documented. There is better information only concerning the transports from the concentration camps in Buchenwald, Dachau, Flossenbürg, Mauthausen and the male camp in Ravensbrück.
Of the female prisoners in the “Camp of Tents” and the “Small and Large Women’s Camps”, a total of more than 18,000 names have now been determined, and of the male prisoners in “Prisoners’ Camps I and II” roughly 13,000 names are now also known.
Of the more than 50,000 people who died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and immediately after liberation, only a total of 9,900 names are known so far. The sources on which these are based are, above all, the copies of the registers of deaths compiled in the special registry office of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and the documentation to be found in the special registry office in Bad Arolsen. In addition, various lists exist of the people who died after liberation and were buried in the cemetery in the grounds of the nearby barracks.
Unfortunately, no complete list of the survivors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was made immediately after the liberation. Among other things, the reason for this is that the British were primarily interested in giving the freed prisoners medical help and in providing them with food. There was no time for a comprehensive registration during the evacuation of the survivors to the nearby barracks complex. However, a number of the national committees established immediately after the liberation did prepare their own lists of liberated prisoners. Various lists with the names of repatriated survivors have also been included in the Book of Remembrance.
A large number of additional person-related sources were included in the list of names in addition to the records already mentioned, above all published reports from memory, investigatory and trial documents, compensation files, obituaries etc. In addition, the Memorial is in contact with many more than 2,000 former prisoners of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The Memorial received numerous questionnaires from them with biographical details about themselves or friends and relatives, this information could not have been obtained in any other way. As a result of their comprehensive reports, and often interviews over several days, they have made an important contribution to drawing up the history of this place.
Using the Book of Remembrance
As a matter of principle, this Book of Remembrance includes only those people who were prisoners in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. They are included without regard to the length of their detention in Bergen-Belsen. The following data on a prisoner are included in the Book of Remembrance:
Family name and first name
Date and place of birth
Date and place of liberation
Date and place of death resulting from imprisonment and shortly after liberation
If the sources contain no information on these data fields, this is indicated by a dash (-). In some sources the name is not entirely legible. If only single letters could not be deciphered, then this is also indicated by a dash at the appropriate place in the name.
The list is compiled in alphabetical order by family name and first name. In each case the name is included which a prisoner had when he or she was deported to Bergen-Belsen. In contrast to the first edition of the Book of Remembrance, the spelling of the names now includes special characters and accents, provided that the sources contain this information. Double-barrelled names are separated by a hyphen. In the case of married women, the maiden name is given after the family name and separated by a hyphen. Additions to names, such as “de”, “von” or “van” are placed after the family name; academic titles, such as “Dr.” are given after the first name.
All the dates are given with eight figures, e.g.: 13.06.1901 (DD.MM.YYYY). If the complete date of birth or death is not given by the sources, only the year and, if applicable, the month, are given.
If it is known, a prisoner’s place of birth is included. In exceptional cases this can also be the last address at which he or she lived. In accordance with the principle of including names and dates in as close accordance with the sources as possible, and as a result of changes to borders during the Second World War, and thus the renaming of places, in some cases the Book of Remembrance has different names for one town (for example: Cluj / Klausenburg / Kolozsvar).
This revised and extended Book of Remembrance contains 50,000 names of former prisoners of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Such comprehensive documentation cannot be without mistakes, and this is partly due to the large number and varying quality of the sources described above. The users of this book are therefore requested to inform the Bergen-Belsen Memorial of corrections or additional information (Bergen-Belsen Memorial, 29303 Lohheide, Germany).
This information is collected at the Memorial and included in the computer-aided database on which the Book of Remembrance is based. This database contains far more information about a person than is printed in this Book of Remembrance, for example information about nationality or religion, and also the path of persecution.
As a result of the destruction of the sources by the perpetrators, it will no longer be possible to reconstruct the names and biographical details of the greater proportion of prisoners in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
The Lower Saxony State Government and the German Federal Government provided the financial means necessary to write this Book of Remembrance.
This database includes 29,105 records of Bergen-Belsen prisoners. The fields for this database are as follows:
Name (Surname + Given name)
Date of Birth
Place of Birth
Place of Liberation
Date of Death
Place of Death
The information contained in this database was indexed from the Bergen-Belsen Book of Remembrance, which until this point, has been published in book form only. This submission was made courtesy of the “Foundation for Memorials in Lower Saxony”. Special thanks to Avraham Groll, JewishGen’s Director of Business Operations, for his work in obtaining permission to include this data in JewishGen’s Holocaust Database.
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