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My Essay on The Bergen-Belson Concentration Camp

by LZPianoGirl


Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp

Introduction

It is hard to imagine people could be shipped to concentration camps on the basis of what they look like and what they believe. However, less than 80 years ago, one country was determined to imprison and exterminate certain people. In World War II, the Nazis created concentration, labor, and death camps where they imprisoned Jewish people and other people they thought were undesirable. More than 3 million people died in concentration camps in World War II. In Bergen-Belsen, approximately 50,000 people were imprisoned and later died. When the Allies liberated these camps at the end of World War II, the prisoners in these camps were either deceased or close to death. Bergen-Belsen was a horrific prisoner of war and concentration camp established by the Nazis in Germany in 1940.

The Origins of Bergen-Belsen

The Nazis established Bergen-Belsen in 1940, near the town of Celle, Germany. Bergen Belsen was part of Hitler’s plan called the “Final Solution,” which was a plan to exterminate all Jewish people and “undesirable” people. Until 1943, Bergen-Belsen was exclusively a prisoner of war camp. In 1943, the Nazis converted part of Bergen-Belsen into a concentration camp. Nearly all the prisoners at Bergen-Belsen came from other camps, such as Auschwitz. Bergen-Belsen was made up of three smaller camps. The “prisoners’ camp” was one of these three camps. The “prisoners’ camp” was divided into the “star camp,” which held mostly Dutch Jews, the “Hungary Camp,” which held mostly Hungarian Jews, the “special camp,” which consisted of Polish Jews, and the “neutral camp,” made up of Jews from other countries.

Life At Bergen-Belsen

Bergen-Belsen’s living conditions were initially better than those in other concentration camps. The prisoners were allowed to bring personal belongings to Bergen-Belsen and they could wear civilian clothing as opposed to prison garb. Even though they had these freedoms, life was still very difficult. One hundred eighty people shared one toilet, lice and rodents were everywhere, and a person would have to make one loaf of bread last a week. These horrible conditions made diseases very common. As a rule, entire family members were brought to the camp. Between 1943 and 1944, the Nazis sent at least 14,600 people to Bergen-Belsen, including 2,750 children.

Liberation of Bergen-Belsen

The British Army, augmented by Canadian troops, liberated Bergen-Belsen in April of 1945. The servicemen were not prepared for the horror they found upon arrival. They found men and women that were so malnourished, they were the weight of a seven-year old child. For thousands of men and women who were sent to Bergen-Belsen, the rescue came too late. Unfortunately, as many as 14,000 liberated from Bergen-Belsen died shortly thereafter due to complications from their malnourishment and treatment at the camp. In total, an estimated 50,000 people died at Bergen-Belsen, including Anne Frank and her sister, Margot.

Conclusion

Bergen-Belsen was a concentration camp operated by the Nazis from 1940 to its liberation in 1945. It was an awful place where 50,000 Jews and “undesirables” lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis, all because of their religion, race, or disabilities. Concentration camps like Bergen-Belsen stand as a reminder for the world that just because someone is different, they should not be discriminated against.

Word Count: 546


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Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:25 pm
alliyah wrote a review...



This is a short informative essay on a very dark place in world history.

I think you did a great job getting in the numbers and locations, for someone who had no idea what Bergen-Belson was before reading, this would be a great introduction to them to get the main ideas.

Some things I think could be improved:

1) You mention several times that the Bergen-Belson camp held those who were Jews and others who the Nazis deemed to be "undesirables" you don't clarify until the end who the "undesirables" are but because you reference it so often I think you should clarify earlier on.

2)

Bergen-Belsen’s living conditions were initially better than those in other concentration camps. The prisoners were allowed to bring personal belongings to Bergen-Belsen and they could wear civilian clothing as opposed to prison garb. Even though they had these freedoms, life was still very difficult.

^ I really have some problems with this section. I don't think you were intending to say this... but you somewhat make it look like you're saying "life wasn't that bad here" - and that is very far from the truth! It's alright to compare it to other concentration camps, but based on the vast amount of horrific harm that the place caused I wouldn't try to show it's "good sides" too much - especially in such a short essay I don't think you have room to get into that without the risk of someone taking it the wrong way. The one line that is just not appropriate in my opinion is, "even though they had these freedoms, life was still very difficult". Freedom is not the right word to use for people who are being held against their will, and "very difficult" I don't think appropriately communicates the horror of the camp.

I was surprised that in the section about how bad life was in the concentration camp that you didn't mention death or being killed as one of the bad things that was frequent. I really think that's an important aspect to include, and not just in the section about liberation.

The piece had fairly good focus with just being a sort of introductory informative piece on Bergen-Belson, however I don't really think your conclusion was very strong.

Concentration camps like Bergen-Belsen stand as a reminder for the world that just because someone is different, they should not be discriminated against.

Again I don't think you really go far enough in what the concentration camps teach us about the world, I would rephrase this in a way that captures the significance a bit more. I do however like that you tried to come up with a moral at the end, or an interpretation, rather than just giving the facts - giving the interpretative piece makes the essay feel a bit more important and lively.

Also out of all the information there is about Bergen-Belson, the detail about how the camps were divided into three different camps seemed kind of insignificant? I think it'd be more interesting to focus on who worked there or what sort of work they were forced to submit to.

Overall your grammar and phrasing seemed pretty good, and clear to understand. Your organization as a whole for this essay also made sense, you got a lot covered in a short space actually.

Best luck in future writing,

alliyah




LZPianoGirl says...


Hey alliyah! I appreciate the review! I wrote this two years ago, and rereading it now, I totally see how someone could take the third paragraph the wrong way. Again, thanks for the amazing review!



alliyah says...


Oh that makes sense! You're welcome!



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Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:15 am
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MeherazulAzim16 wrote a review...



Hi Piano Girl!

It's a fairly objective essay. I didn't know about Bergen-Belsen before. I decided not to google it before reading the essay. Just to see to what extent the essay informs me and how it makes me feel about this specific concentration camp.

I can gather that it was a concentration camp -- one of the many -- during the second world war. 50,000 people were imprisoned and all of them were either dead or severely malnourished by the time the Allies liberated them. That sets the picture for how gruesome it was to be in one of those camps.

"Bergen-Belsen was a horrific prisoner of war and concentration camp established by the Nazis in Germany in 1940."

I wondered for a second if Bergen-Belsen was a person; a prisoner of war; maybe he was the person the camps were named after. It got cleared up when I read "The Origins of Bergen-Belsen." Maybe ".. a horrific prisoner-of-war camp" could be a clearer way of presenting this information. But this sentence still feels a little misplaced. I feel like it should have come earlier in Introduction. Or you could just exclude this sentence totally as the origin and the nature of the camps is talked about in the latter paragraph.

In the second line of "The Origins of Bergen-Belsen," Bergen-Belsen is missing a hyphen.

"Nearly all the prisoners at Bergen-Belsen came from other camps, such as Auschwitz. Bergen-Belsen was made up of three smaller camps. The “prisoners’ camp” was one of these three camps."

This might be subjective and more of an opinion, but I think this part would have flowed better if there was some variation in the structure of the sentences. Or maybe the word "camp" pops up too many times. That is understandable too considering the subject of the essay.

The Origins paragraph was informative enough.

"Bergen-Belsen’s living conditions were initially better than those in other concentration camps."

I was failing to see how that may be. It's still a concentration camp. They still died in the end, right? But the magic word here is "initially." Considering the reputation that concentration camps held, allowances like being able to bring something in with you, to wear your normal clothing must have seemed like a big deal to the prisoners. We have to wonder if, initially, some of the prisoners actually wondered maybe it's a sign, maybe this one will be differently. That makes those privileges -- if you can call them that -- just the more cruel. So, I think it was an interesting sentence to start the paragraph "Life At Bergen-Belsen" with.

"One hundred eighty people shared one toilet.."

Maybe it can be phrased better and more accurately as "Every one hundred and eighty people shared one toilet."

".. entire family members were brought to the camp."

It may be more accurate to say ".. entire families were brought to the camp."

"Unfortunately, as many as 14,000 liberated from Bergen-Belsen died shortly thereafter."

It makes me wonder. The camp was set up in 1940. Between 1943 and 1944, the Nazis sent at least 14,600 people to Bergen-Belsen, including 2,750 children. The 14,000 prisoners were liberated in 1945. So, what are the chances that most of the people that were liberated in 1945 were imprisoned in that 1943-44 period? What does that mean for the actual living conditions in that camp? Did they bring in so many people into the camp in that period (1943-44) specifically because a lot of the initial prisoners had died just before? Making use of the now-available-camp-space? That'd mean the condition that the Allied forces found the prisoners in; malnourished, nearly dead, dead; it took just a year for the camp to this to most of the prisoners. Or maybe the numbers aren't related at all.

The essay definitely makes me think and ask questions.

"Concentration camps like Bergen-Belsen stand as a reminder for the world that just because someone is different, they should not be discriminated against."

Maybe there's more to be added here (unless there's a word limit to the essay). Because Bergen-Belsen seems to be a reminder of more than just that. For example, what can happen when one person has too much power, if we start to think it's okay to impose our will/values on somebody else etc. But what you wrote is still a solid, specific note to end on.

I think the essay does its job. It's precise yet informative. It'll leave even the most uninformed reader with a basic knowledge of the nature of WWII concentration camps.

I hope the review helps. Have a good day and keep writing!

Excelsior!

~MAS




LZPianoGirl says...


Thanks for the review!




Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen.
— Homer Simpson