On 25 April 1945, some 2,000 liberated inmates from France, Belgium and the Netherlands left the casern camp in Bergen to return home – among them many Mittelbau-Dora inmates who had been liberated in Bergen-Belsen ten days before.
One of them was the Dutchman Jacobus Sanger. He later described his mixed feelings on departing from the camp: “An era had come to an end, indisputably the hardest time of our lives. We were at the end of our tether, morally and physically exhausted. We couldn’t comprehend that we were now free. Many of us – myself included – wondered what we would encounter, what our return would bring us. […] What awaited us back home? A bombed-out flat, a vacant flat because the family was no longer there?"
The only ones able to leave were the Western Europeans who had enough strength to travel. Thousands of severely ill and many Jewish and Eastern European inmates had to remain in the camp for the time being.
Source: Jacobus Sanger, De Oorlogs-Tribulaties van “Jako, de lange Hollander” 1942–1945, Nieuwpoort-aan-Zee 1994.