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Bergen-Belsen Photographs

Identifier: MS Group 137

Scope and Content

The photographs which comprise this collection were taken at the camp presumably hours after the liberation. Colonel Curtis Mitchell was the Director of the Pictorial Branch of the U.S. Army under Dwight D. Eisenhower. Colonel Mitchell took a staff photographer into the camp with him and these photographs were the result. The photographs do not reflect the full horror of this concentration camp. Many are of the physical layout of the camp as the vistas, the buildings, and the interiors. Some of the photographs show the prisoners, who had survived, engaged in activities as cooking, eating, showering, and standing in groups. There are also graphic images of the mass graves with their piles of dead bodies. Printed information is included on the reverse side of each photograph.


  • 1945



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Bergen-Belsen was a concentration camp in north Germany near the city of Celle and was located between the villages of Bergen and Belsen. The camp was originally built in 1940 as a prisoner-of-war camp for Belgium and French prisoners and in 1941 it was named Stalag 311. But in April 1943 it was designated as a concentration camp to be administered by the SS and was given the name Bergen-Belsen. Its purpose was to operate as a detention camp for prisoners who might be exchanged for German nationals in Allied countries. However, there were relatively few exchanges.

The camp was divided into at least eight sections: a detention camp, two women's camps, a special camp, a neutrals camp, a "star" camp, and Hungarian camp, and a tent camp. The tent camp was for prisoners who were either sick or had been injured. One of the prisoners at this tent camp was Anne Frank who later died from typhus before the camp was liberated by the British on April 15, 1945.

As allied troops advanced Bergen-Belsen became flooded with thousands of Jewish prisoners from camps nearer the front. By April 15 the camp was seriously overcrowded with 60,000 prisoners. The overcrowding, poor sanitation, and lack of food and water led to the typhus epidemic which caused the deaths of thousands of people.


0.2 Linear feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



Photographs taken following the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany during World War II.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

The photographs were donated by Curtis Mitchell and Marie Saul. Colonel Curtis Mitchell had given the photographs to his nephew Mitchell Saul many years before.

Related Material

The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum ( holds photographs and a memoir created by Curtis Mitchell.

A Guide to the Bergen-Belsen Photographs
Finding aid created by Joyce Dewsbury
October 2007
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America