This month marks the 70th anniversary of the British liberation of the Bergen-Belsen death camp, but a study of 8,000 11 to 18-year-olds has revealed that many misunderstand crucial aspects of the events of the Holocaust.
Researchers at the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education fear that the name Bergen-Belsen, synonymous both with the horrors of Nazi brutality and with British relief efforts, is “slipping out of the consciousness of young people across England”.
When soldiers from the British 11th Armoured Division entered Bergen-Belsen on April 15, 1945, they were confronted by a humanitarian crisis of around 60,000 starving and seriously ill prisoners. Film and photographs of these atrocities were later shown in cinemas in Britain. It is thought that these images led to the often-repeated myth that Britain went to war to “save the Jews”.
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