On the anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen by British forces 70 years ago, Queen Elizabeth II today visited the former Nazi concentration camp, laying a wreath in commemoration of the 50,000 Holocaust victims who perished there. The Queen’s tour of the camp marked her first visit to a Nazi camp.
Jewish leaders have called the Queen’s visit “tremendously significant”. President of the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicement and Women, Rt. Hon. Lord Sterling of Plaistow GCVO CBE wrote an article published in the Daily Telegraph on the eve before the visit, highlighting the British role in the liberation of the camp, and the contribution of Jews to Britain’s armed forces throughout history.
Lord Sterling said: “Indeed for Jews across the world, to see the Queen herself in a concentration camp is a reminder of what the debt we owe to the Allied forces who defeated the Third Reich. But for British Jews it will be an even more poignant moment”.
He underlined: “Over the past three hundred years, out of a Jewish population that has never exceeded 400,000, more than 100,000 have served in the armed forces – and nearly 6000 have died in battle. Over 3000 have also been given commendations for their bravery… In other words, British Jews have been disproportionately willing to stand and fight for Britain – and to lay down their lives for our nation”.
In response to polls this year suggesting that British Jews were considering leaving the UK after terror attacks in Europe, Lord Sterling attested: “The idea that we would, as British citizens who have fought and died for our country, run away when faced with the latest threat, is simply risible. We stand firm, like our ancestors, as proud British citizens always ready to serve both Queen and Country”.
Click here to read Lord Sterling’s full article.