Her Majesty The Queen will make history in June as she visits Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Lower Saxony on her State Visit to Germany. The Duke of Edinburgh will accompany The Queen on the visit to the only concentration camp that was liberated by the British.
During their time at the former Nazi concentration camp, The Queen and Prince Philip will witness various memorials around the camp including one to Anne Frank, who posthumously became famous after her father published her wartime diaries, detailing her family’s time spent in hiding during the Nazi occupation.
Following the outbreak of the Second World War, the Wehrmacht set up a camp for Belgian and French prisoners of war on the edge of the Bergen Military Training Area. During the spring of 1941, the camp was vastly expanded and following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, over 21000 Soviet POW’s were deported to the camp until Autumn of 1941. Between July 1941 and April 1942, 14000 Prisoners of War died at Bergen-Belsen either from starvation, disease and exposure.
The Queen and Prince Philip’s visit to Bergen-Belsen will come just a few weeks after Germany remember the
camp’s 53000 victims and the 70th anniversary of its liberation by British troops in April 1945.
The Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was liberated by the British in April 1945 and upon their entrance to the camp, they witnessed some horrific sites including thousands of unburied bodies and tens of thousands of severely ill prisoners. Following their liberation of the camp, the British Army set up an emergency hospital at the nearby Wehrmacht barracks which eventually developed in to a camp for Polish and Jewish displaced persons. The displaced persons camp was closed in 1950.
The Queen and Prince Philip’s State Visit will begin on 19th June and continue until the 23rd June. During their time in Germany, The Queen will meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel, attend a state banquet a Bellevue Palace as well as visit the financial centre of Germany, Frankfurt. One place the royal duo wont be visiting though is Gotha, where The Queen’s great-great grandfather Prince Albert was born in to the former Saxon duchy of Saxe-Coburg Saalfeld.
The Queen and Prince Philip’s last State Visit to Germany was in 2004.
Featured Photo Credit: Bank of England