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Hellish site witnessed 50,000 deaths.

BELSEN, in the town of Lower Saxony, North West Germany was one of the Nazi's most infamous concentration camps.

The camp was initially established in 1940 as a transportation and prisoner of war camp, and largely held French and Soviet soldiers.

But around three years later the acre-long compound was re-designated a concentration camp, and in the two-year period that followed an estimated 50,000 prisoners died at the site.

Most died from the effects of cold weather, hunger and typhus - a disease which thrives in cramped and unhygienic environments, Belsen was also home to notorious guardswoman Herta Bothe, who after World War Two was charged with war crimes including bringing about the death of female inmates and beating prisoners using heavy wooden sticks.

The camp was liberated in 1945 by British and Canadian soldiers. At the time, the German army negotiated the implementation of an exclusion zone to prevent typhus spreading to its soldiers serving outside the camp.

Despite attempts to rid the camp of disease, the death toll of prisoners rose rapidly following liberation.

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TRAGEDY: Just two of the camp's young victims
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 29, 2008
Words:186
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