Wrapping up her four-day State visit to Germany, the Queen laid a wreath at the Bergen-Belsen memorial in honour of the 70,000 Jewish, Russian and other prisoners.
The tragedy of the acts committed at Bergen-Belsen lay with the gut-wrenching statistics of 70,00o lives lost, 30,000 of those Jewish and 20,000 were Soviets.
“If I could live my life again I would find you sooner.”
Read a handwritten note in English displayed in a room at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. It was left by a recent visitor, linking those, like The Queen, with the masses of bodies in the grass-covered barrows everywhere you look.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh met with survivors of the concentration camp and their British Liberators hearing first hand of the suffering and loss they endured.
“It was more like dying, not living.” said Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, 89, a German Jew who transferred to Belsen from Auschwitz of the living conditions.
“There was nothing, it was the end, there was no food, nothing. The only reason anyone survived was because the British came in time.
“Belsen was complete chaos. People were sent there and sat there and waited until they were dead.
“We were surrounded by bodies, that was where we lived, among decaying bodies.
“When the British came it was a miracle, we thought we were dreaming, suddenly we heard an English voice.”
One of those voices was that of Captain Eric “Winkle” Brown. The Queen asked him about what it was like the day he enterered the camp on 15 April, 1945, the day it was liberated being the only concentration camp to be liberated by the British.
Brown told the Queen: “This was just a field of corpses.”
“It must have been horrific really.” the Queen replied
“She was listening very carefully. I would say she was quite affected by the atmosphere here. You can’t avoid it, can you?” Brown recalled.
The Queen and the Duke requested time to take in all that happened, walking beside one the the mass graves of nameless victims for half an hour.Each grave is only marked with a stone with the number of bodies buried. The largest holding 5,000 bodies. A single gravestone also stands in memory of Anne Frank and her sister Margot who both died at Bergen-Beslen in 1945. Families have also erected gravestones for loved ones buried among the masses.
Photo Credit: lizsmith via Flickr