“I suddenly heard some yelling and screaming and clapping. So, I went to the window. I saw this British Army jeep slowly driving down between the buildings. That was the first glimmer of liberation.” That is how the Dora survivor Alex Hacker remembers the 15th of April 1945 – the day of his liberation in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Just days before, he and thousands of other inmates had been transferred from the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp to Bergen-Belsen, where they had arrived from 8 April onward in a state of total enfeeblement. By this point in time, the camp was hopelessly overcrowded – a situation further aggravated by a typhus epidemic. The SS therefore lodged the inmates from Mittelbau-Dora in the casern camp, a vacated section of the nearby Wehrmacht quarters in Bergen-Hohne.
Although the living conditions in the stone casern buildings were somewhat better than in the main camp, hundreds of inmates died of the consequences of years of concentration camp imprisonment and the strain of the death marches.
Source: Unpublished interview with Alex Hacker, February 2021 (Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial).
Reference: Stiftung niedersächsische Gedenkstätten (ed.), Bergen-Belsen: Katalog der Dauerausstellung, Celle 2009.