Survivors welcome Queen's Belsen visit


The Queen's planned visit to the site of concentration camp Bergen-Belsen next month has been welcomed by survivors and Holocaust education organisations.

Buckingham Palace announced on Monday that the Queen, joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, will visit the camp in northern Germany, where around 70,000 people died at the hands of the Nazis and which was liberated 70 years ago by British troops.

Holocaust survivor Mala Tribich, who was liberated from Bergen-Belsen, said the royal visit was "a wonderful gesture".

Ms Tribich said: "I am very pleased that she has chosen to visit Bergen-Belsen because it has a special meaning for me.

"She is probably interested in many of the camps, but Bergen-Belsen holds particular interest and a special place in people's hearts because it was liberated by the British."

Ms Tribich has met the Queen on several occasions and was presented with an MBE for services to education in 2012. She said: "Her Majesty has actually met a lot of survivors and is well informed. Going to Bergen-Belsen will give her an overview. Being there personally does make a difference. It is heartening for me to know that she is going."

The royal visit will be part of a four-day state visit to Germany, beginning on June 23, which will include a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel.

During the trip the Queen will lay a wreath at the memorial to Anne Frank, who perished at Bergen-Belsen.

She will also meet survivors and liberators, as well representatives of Jewish and Christian communities.

Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock, welcomed the trip as "a fitting tribute to the memory of the thousands of victims and survivors of the camp".

But Ajex member Mervyn Kersh, who was stationed in the nearby town of Celle during the liberation, said it would have been more appropriate for the Queen to have made the visit at the time of the 70th anniversary of the liberation in April.

"The royalty should commemorate at the anniversary when there is a specific reason, not just as a tourist," he said.

Last month, Mr Kersh joined more than 1,000 people from around the world, including 200 from Britain, to attend a ceremony at the camp marking the 70th anniversary of its liberation.

He added: "I'm not that enthusiastic. I think it is more important that she goes to Israel."

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