In April 1943, the Nazis created Bergen-Belsen in Lower Saxony near the city of Celle as a transit center; Bergen-Belsen
was never officially given formal concentration
camp status. But the second commandant, SS-Hauptsturmführer
Josef Kramer, completed the transformation of Bergen-Belsen into a regular
The notorious Herta Bothe became a camp guard and soon
acquired a reputation as a sadist who beat prisoners without mercy.
She had a good time shooting at weak female prisoners carrying food
containers from the kitchen to the block with her pistol. And she often
beat sick girls with a wooden stick.
On April 15, 1945, the British army liberated Bergen-Belsen.
However, it was unable to rescue the inmates. On that liberation day,
the British found 10,000 unburied corpses and 40,000 sick and dying
prisoners. Among the 40,000 living inmates, 28,000 died after the liberation.
The inmates were abandoned in Bergen-Belsen by the Germans, left behind
for death to come.
After the war Herta Bothe was charged with having committed
war crimes. At the Bergen-Belsen Trial she received a 10 year sentence.