The following letter was sent from Germany to a Sheffield address in May 1945. The letter was sent from a soldier who was based in the Nazi Concentration Camp at Bergen-Belsen. At the end of the letter the writer states “When you have read this letter you can show it to anyone who is interested enough to read it.” Well I was interested and I hope you are!
BELSEN MAY 1945
Alan G Walker 11532306
370/113 LAA Regd RA
20th May 1945
To all at 53
Just a few more lines hoping to find you all still enjoying the best of health as it finds me the same at the time of writing. Well I hope you are all feeling well after the victory celebrations, I have not had a chance to celebrate yet but will do so when I return to England at the present time I am only too glad to think that I have got through this war alright and that I will not have to fight against Japan, for me the war is over.
Well I am still in Belsen Concentration Camp and have been here since we liberated it, I was not able to say much about it in my previous letter because the war was not over at the time and for reasons of security I was not allowed to disclose my whereabouts, but now it is all over I can tell you a little more about it. When we first liberated the Camp I saw such terrible sights that they will be imprinted on my mind for as long as I live. The very first thing we saw was 25 thousand dead bodies lying all over the place, there was men and women and even little children and I can never describe the horrors of this concentration camp. They had been without food and water for ten days and they were so thin that their stomachs was touching their spine.
We have buried a few more thousands since then and we have got over 10000 in hospital suffering from Typhus and malnutrition. I cannot describe the picture of what I have seen in Belsen because it was so horrible and I cannot even now understand how the Germans could have been so cruel as they have been, to these poor souls whose only crime was that they were unfortunate enough to have been born of Jewish descent. This Concentration camp was originally built to accommodate a thousand people but when we arrived here there was 60 thousand people of all nationalities in that place, so you can guess how terribly over crowded they were.
I have never in all my life imagined that human beings could ever exist in such a horrible, filthy and lousy place as Belsen camp. These poor souls had once been respectable human beings, had been very successful business people, some very prominent lawyers and statesman, some great figures in the world before Hitler got into power and now they are nothing more than starving animals and most of them will never make men and women again even if they live to leave this place and there are still about 4 to 5 hundred of them dying each day.
The Germans had been using these people to do slave labour and had made them work sixteen hours a day, the only food they got was one meal each day and that consisted of a small piece of black bread and a cup of turnip water, when they became too weak to work they were taken to the crematorium and burned alive. They had neither beds or bedding and had to live in filthy huts which had neither windows or lights, we found them all lying in heaps, the dead and the living were all together, the ones that were alive had only managed to keep alive by stooping to cannibalism they had been …………………….. the dead, when people died the others used to take the livers from the dead bodies and use it for food, they couldn’t take the flesh because their was no flesh to take. When the German guards wanted a bit of entertainment they used to think nothing was more entertaining than to take a few of these poor unfortunate people and burn them alive, they have even gone so far as to take children and made them watch the scene of their own mothers and fathers being cremated while they were still alive. We have done the very best we can for them since we came here but regret to say that thousands of them were beyond help, they were a big problem to us because they had been without food so long that their digestive organs were dead and to give them food would be fatal for them, we tried feeding in easy stages, the first thing we tried was sugar and milk but even that killed a lot of them.
We have managed to get a few of them reasonably well and they are waiting now for evacuation to their homes, we have put them in a big German barracks for the time being and we have taken clothing and shoes from the German civilians for them, we have deloused and bathed them whatever we could but as I said before most of them will never make human beings again. Sometime this week Belsen Camp will be cleared and then we are going to burn it to the ground, I don’t quite know for sure where we shall go to from here but have got an idea that we shall go to Hamburg.
I know that this letter will read like fiction and will seem to be an exaggeration but I swear that as sure as there is a God in heaven that what I have told you is the Gospel truth. When you have read this letter you can show it to anyone who is interested enough to read it. I don’t know yet when I shall be demobbed but I am hoping to get another leave to England about July. Well I think this will be all for now so I will say Cheerio for the present.
Hoping to see you soon
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