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WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: The moment Nazi death camp Bergen-Belsen death was burned down

  • British Reverend Charles Martin King Parsons was one of a handful of chaplains to enter Bergen-Belsen camp
  • Captured these images, but never told family about them until they were discovered by grandson Tom Marshall
  • Mr Marshall said he is proud of his grandfather for making sure future generation can never forget what happened

After years of suffering behind its barbed wire fences, watching those they loved waste away before their eyes while Nazi guards systematically slaughtered them by the tens of thousands – this is the moment the inmates of Bergen-Belsen watched as the death camp was burned to the ground.

Steeped in human misery, these huts once contained the bodies of thousands of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Nazi opponents and the disabled, sent to an inhuman death by Adolf Hitler and his demented regime. Diarist Anne Frank, and her sister Margot, also died here.

Shortly after the camp was liberated by British and Canadian troops in 1945, it was torched, and at least part of that suffering was destroyed forever as the buildings, along with the Reichskriegs flag and Hitler portrait which adorned them, were consumed by flames.

These hellish images, which were taken by British Reverend Charles Martin King Parsons, captured that poignant moment in history for future generations to remember.


When the Allied troops arrived at Bergen-Belsen, it was in the grip of a terrible typhus outbreak, with prisoners dying at a rate of 500 a day.

A sombre sign erected by the British Army, and photographed by Mr Parsons, documents at least part of that grisly death tool, revealing that 13,000 people perished even after troops came to their aid.

In other images he documents pits filled with the emaciated corpses of the dead, and cramped buildings filled with the typhus-ridden bodies of those who were still alive.

The images were brought to light by Mr Parsons’ great-grandson Tom Marshall, 27, who decided to publish the pictures after finding them tucked inside an old box among his grandmother’s possessions.

Mr Marshall, a photo restorer who lives in Glasgow, said: ‘I often come across very interesting historical photographs showing stories that impel me to dig deeper and find out as much as I can about the people in the pictures, and what they did with their lives.

‘I never knew him, but my grandmother said he never talked about his time in the war. I didn’t know why, but now I understand.

‘We had no idea he had taken these pictures, and I feel now is the right time to share them. Words struggle to describe the unbridled horror within.’

Charles served in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War, and because he was aged 39 when the Second World War broke out, he initially joined the Home Guard. However he transferred to the regular Army, and was eventually sent to Germany.

Charles was one of a handful of British Army chaplains who entered the camp in the days following liberation. The pictures show the temporary sign erected by the British shortly after the camp was liberated, revealing just part of the grim death toll.

During the course of the war, Bergen-Belsen became the final resting place for over 50,000 Jews, Poles, Soviets, opponents of the Nazis, homosexuals, and Gypsies.


Mr Marshall added: ‘Perhaps the most discussed Jewish victim of the Holocaust Anne Frank died in Belsen shortly before the liberation, probably of typhus which was rife among the dying.

‘When my great-grandfather arrived at the camp there were nearly 500 people dying each day, from the appalling conditions and the typhus outbreak.

‘Along with the other chaplains, medical staff and medical volunteers, he saved many lives and gave both spiritual and medical support to the survivors.

‘They were all true heroes – I’m so proud he documented what he saw, because it’s important for future generations not to forget.’

After the war, Charles returned to his work as a vicar, and raised two children, Tom’s grandmother Ruth and sister Joan before dying aged 54, in 1953.

Mr Marshall said: ‘I never knew him as he died 35 years



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