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Liberating Belsen Concentration Camp - A Personal Account by (former) Lt-Colonel Leonard Berney R.A.

Discussion in 'WWII Books & Publications' started by BelsenBook, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. BelsenBook

    BelsenBook New Member

    Apr 13, 2015
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    "Liberating Belsen Concentration Camp - A Personal Account by (former) Lt-Colonel Leonard Berney R.A. T.D." is the only book published that recounts the events that led up to the British Army’s uncovering of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp and its 60,000 prisoners, and their subsequent liberation.

    Forewords by Nanette Blitz Konig and Major-General Nicholas Eeles CBE with the introduction by Joshua Oppenheimer.

    London - In this first-hand memoir, former Lt-Colonel Leonard Berney captures the drama and horror encountered by the British Army, and recounts the heroic efforts by the liberating troops to provide food, medical care, housing, and rescue the thousands upon thousands of concentration camp survivors.

    On 15th April 1945, the then 25-year-old Leonard Berney (now 95 years old) was one of the officers of the advance party detailed to take over Belsen Concentration Camp from the Germans and one of the first of the liberators to go through its gates.
    "We drove the length of the camp and back It was nearly half a mile long. Announcements were made in German and other languages that the British Army had arrived to take over the camp; the inmates were now safe but had to stay where they were. As we drove along the camp’s main road we saw dead bodies lying beside the road, and many hundreds of emaciated men and women prisoners still mostly behind barbed wire.

    "We saw many long wooden huts with corpses littering the ground between them. In open areas at the rear of the huts, more piles of corpses. At the end of the road, we saw a large open mass grave containing hundreds of corpses. The sights, the stench, the sheer horror of the place, were indescribable."

    This is the only book to be published that recounts:

    • the events that led up to the British Army’s uncovering of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp and its 60,000 prisoners
    • how the Army dealt with the unprecedented horror that existed in the camp
    • how the surviving prisoners were rescued
    • how the inmates were evacuated
    • how the Royal Army Medical Corps established the world’s largest hospital to care for the many thousands of sick and emaciated ex-inmates
    • how the survivors were rehabilitated and cared for
    • how they were repatriated to their own countries
    • why many thousand refused to return ‘home’ and
    • the eventual establishment of the Belsen Displaced Persons camp, the largest DP camp in Germany.

    It includes a foreword by Belsen survivor Nanette Blitz Konig, a foreword by the General Officer Commanding Scotland and Chairman of the Royal Artillery Historical Trust, Major-General Nicholas Eeles CBE, and an introduction by Oscar®-nominated film director Joshua Oppenheimer whose work includes "The Act of Killing" and "The Look of Silence", both of which document the genocide that took place there during the Indonesian Killings of 1965-66.

    Leonard Berney was a senior British Army officer who participated in the liberation of the Camp, who was in charge of evacuating the ex-prisoners to the vast Rehabilitation Camp that the Army set up, and who was then appointed as the Commandant of that Camp until its management was handed over to the United Nations, and who gave evidence against the SS guards at the Belsen War Crimes Trial.

    The book is available on:
    Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1511541709 and
    Amazon US http://www.amazon.com/dp/1511541709/ref=cm_sw_su_dp and
    CreateSpace https://www.createspace.com/5404219 and has a presence on
    Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LiberatingBelsenBook and
    Twitter http://twitter.com/BelsenBook
    and its website is

    Some responses to "Liberating Belsen Concentration Camp":

    "I wept through much of your account of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen. Minutes after I reached the end, I felt the urge to start again from the beginning."
    Joshua Oppenheimer

    "The importance of your historical observations are more relevant today than ever before. Thank you for devoting your energy and talent to the task."
    Judy Sheindlin (Judge Judy)

    About the Author

    Leonard Berney was born in London in 1920. After leaving St Paul’s School, Hammersmith in 1938 he joined the Territorial Army as a Second Lieutenant. At the beginning of 1939 he and his Anti-Aircraft Regiment were mobilized for full-time military service in the defence of London. He took part countering The Blitz and the V1 flying bomb attacks. In August 1944 he was in Normandy as the Staff Officer, Anti-Aircraft Defence, of XIII Corps of the British 21st Army. This is his personal account of his experience of the Liberation of Belsen Concentration Camp and as the Commandant of the Displaced Persons camp that housed the survivors. Following his time at Belsen, he was appointed Military Governor of Schleswig-Holstein and was released from the army at the end of 1946, rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He pursued a business career until he retired. Today, Leonard Berney is regularly asked to deliver lectures on the Liberation of Belsen, by groups such as Congregation Ner Tamid, Las Vegas and Greenwich University, London and he is often asked to take part in documentaries on the Holocaust such as Night Will Fall which was broadcast on television in twenty countries around the world to mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2015. Leonard now lives on the residential ship The World. In his 95th year when he wrote this book, he has to be one of the very few survivors of the liberators of the infamous Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp.

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