Source 1

Description of conditions at the camp on 16 April, 1945 (WO 235/19/76008)


Men’s Compounds.


Typhus was on the wane and reached its peak in March. It is understood that it commenced early in February.

No. 2

This was the largest men’s compound and contained approx 8,000. Typhus had commenced here at a later date than in Compound 1 and had now reached its peak. There were 266 cases and new cases were still occurring, but the medical members considered the worst was over. It was in this Compound that the story of cannibalism was reported to me by one of the doctors. There had been none for the last 2 days but before that there had been many cases.

No. 3

There were many fewer inmates in this compound and no hut set aside as a hospital. Conditions in many of the huts were indescribable, several dead bodies could be seen, in some cases moved up to the ends, in others left just as they lay. Only be entering the huts could the cases of extreme emaciation be seen, so many obviously past any help however skilled. The gutters outside the huts contained living and dead. There was no attempt at sanitation whatsoever, the men just squatting anywhere.

Women’s Compound

No. 1

This was a very large compound containing approx 23,000. Conditions here were much the same as in the men’s compounds except that in a greater proportion there had been attempts to preserve order and some semblance of cleanliness. There did seem, however, to be more cases of extreme emaciation, amongst the women than the men and in hut 208 conditions were appalling. Practically every inmate was so weak that they could hardly raise themselves and the passage was equally crowded with both living and dead. Not so many dead bodies were left for any length of time in the huts or surroundings but in the middle of the compound and practically adjoining the children’s area was a very large area of naked dead women piled high. It must have contained many hundreds. The hospital block in this compound was a paradise compared to any others and I can’t speak too highly of the efforts of certain of the women doctors. One woman Gynacologist was conducting all the obstetric cases, averaging 5 to 7 per day, and for some days without any water supply available. The care that had been taken of the children was also most noticeable. In this compound, however, the number of bunks available for Hospital cases was grossly inadequate. 474 for a total of approx 2,000 acutely ill. In many cases there were 3 in each bunk and the condition in the Typhus ward where there were no bunks at all was indescribable. The same applied to the Men’s compound. The typhus in this compound was well segregated and was definitely on the wane. There were approx 250 cases here. Out of the 23,000 inmates of the compound medical personnel estimated that there were not more that 5,000 well.

No. 2.

In this compound there were 4,500 women. Only one hut was set aside as a Hospital and this had no bunks in it. There was no segregation of typhus, of which there were 300 cases.

« Return to Belsen concentration camp 1945

1. Read Source 1. What are the different causes of death described in this document?