Bernard Levy, British Jewish liberator of Bergen Belsen, dies aged 96

One of the few British-Jewish soldiers who liberated Nazi concentration camps at the end of the war has died, aged 96.

Bernard Maurice Levy was a 19-year-old corporal when he entered Bergen Belsen in northern Germany in April 1945. He had a key role in the relief operation, spraying survivors with disinfectant as they were moved out of the camp.

Overcrowding, starvation and poor sanitary conditions meant typhus,  dysentery and other diseases were common throughout the camp where more than 50,000 people, including Anne Frank and her sister Margot, perished between 1941 and 1945.

Bernard was also responsible for processing Germans suspected of war crimes, sending some back to their families and others to face the consequences of their crimes against humanity at the Luneberg Trials in 1945 (also know as the Belsen Trials), which he attended as a scribe.

Speaking in 2015, when he returned to Bergen Belsen to mark the 70th anniversary of liberation in the company of the Queen, Bernard recalled: “There was barbed wire everywhere. Chaos and bodies. They looked like skeletons. There were great white clouds of DDT (disinfectant), because everybody coming out was being deloused, so my greatest memory is standing there, doing what we can.”

He added: “I think the initial shock was so enormous that I blocked it out. I’m glad I’m returned because, if you like, it’s the last time I’ll be here. I just feel like I’ve come to say goodbye to all that, and I hope that they all rest in peace.”


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