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Queen pays sombre visit to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

Nick Duffy June 26, 2015

The Queen has paid a visit to the former Nazi concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are currently on a state visit to Germany, and early this morning visited the camp in Lower Saxony. It is the first time the Queen has visited a concentration camp site

Bergen-Belsen – where homosexuals was interned by the Nazis along with a number of other minority groups – was liberated by British troops 1945. Gay prisoners were not set free at the end of the Second World War, unlike other groups, and were made to serve out their sentences.

The monarch was joined by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis on the trip, who has spoken about the poignancy of the moment.

The Chief Rabbi said: “The memory of the Holocaust remains such a fundamental aspect of modern Jewish identity that the Queen’s journey to memorialise the victims will be viewed as tremendously significant by Jewish communities across the world.”

The Queen passed by the 13 mounds that mark the mass graves where the victims of the camp are buried. More than 50,000 people lost their lives at Bergen-Belsen.

Approximately 50,000 served prison sentences as “convicted homosexuals”, and around 5,000 to 15,000 gay men were imprisoned in concentration camps across Germany and Nazi occupied countries. Many gay men were imprisoned by the allied authorities after the liberation of the concentration camps as homosexuality remained illegal.

The monarch met with Holocaust survivors on her trip, as well as representatives of Jewish and Christian communities, as well as visiting a memorial to Anne Frank, who died in the camp.

The chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock, said: “Having recently marked 70 years since British armed forces liberated Bergen Belsen, it is fitting that Her Majesty will pay her respects at this site in this significant year.

“Her Majesty’s visit will mean a huge amount to those survivors and liberators still with us – and of course to all of us dedicated to keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive.”

Writing for PinkNews on Holocaust Memorial Day in January Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to all those who were persecuted by the Nazis, including gay people.

The memory of the Holocaust remains such a fundamental aspect of modern Jewish identity that the Queen’s journey to memorialise the victims will be viewed as tremendously significant by Jewish communities across the world.

More: camp, concentration, death, Europe, Germany, Germany, Holocaust, Jewish, monarch, Nazi, queen

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