The human laundry. ‘Going into that place, who could forget it?’ wrote Molly Sylva* Jones of the Red Cross.
‘Living corpses, skeletons covered with parchment like skin, discoloured by filth and neglected sores lay on the bath tables. Mostly they lay inert, occasionally they moaned as they were touched by the nurses. They lay with open eyes sunk deep into hollow sockets, eyes which registered little, save fear and apprehension, mainly they were expressionless.’
On 19th April Molly wrote in her Diary:
Who could imagine that a Concentration Camp could be hidden in such country? It seemed fantastic, the peace of the pine woods becoming sombre and sinister. On the left we caught the first glimpse of barbed wire through which people peered at us, strange figures clad in blue striped pyjamas. Increasing gradually was an indescribable stench that pervaded everything…
Possibly none of us had ever been so stirred – with pity – shame – remorse – yes, because even in 1934 we had heard of these camps and had not realised, not wanted to realise, that such things could happen. And lastly but not least we were stirred with a cold anger against those primarily responsible, the Germans, an anger which grew daily at Belsen. Stirred also an increased desire to help; nothing we could do was enough to restore… some measure of mental and physical health. We went back to the road without speaking. We knew the uselessness of words, not for the last time at Belsen.
* References for Molly include spellings of Molly Silva Jones, Molly Sylva Jones and Molly Silver Jones! ED
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