April 30,1945 was a day that would have given a great sense of relief for millions around the globe, that was the day that Adolf Hitler decided to take his own life.
However for a few people it was a day filled with tragedy. Four Dutch Jewish citizens died that day in Bergen Belsen. Although the camp had been liberated a few weeks earlier, most of the people remained in the camp because of fear of disease, and also some were just not healthy enough to be moved.
Laurence Wand one of the liberators said this about that time
“The policy was, right from the beginning, was to get people out of that awful place into proper surroundings and you couldn’t take them out until they’d been cleaned and the army had set up a ‘human laundry’ – or was in the process of setting up a ‘human laundry’ – which consisted of trestle
tables, water supply, trestle tables, a clothing dump, a stretcher dump, old clothing to be discarded, fresh clothing to be provided after the inmates would be brought out of the huts, hosed down, washed down, deloused, and then put into fresh clothes and then evacuated from the camp…The primary task of course was to save life and to get people fed, to get them out of the camp into proper conditions where they could be nursed and looked after and saved from dying.”
Unfortunately many still died
Selma Stibbe-Frank was born in Emmen, the Netherlands, on 2 April 1909 . She died because of her treatment by the Nazis in Bergen Belsen on April 1945. Her husband, Maurits Meijer Stibbe, had been murdered in Auschwitz on January 31,1944.
One of the few things which remain of Selma is a certificate, issued on 19 February 1927 by the management of De Bijenkorf, department store. Selma Frank had been working from 15 November 1924 to 19 February 1927 as an office clerk in the Statistics department. The management wrote in the certificate:
‘She has always carried out the tasks she was given to our satisfaction and her behaviour could not be faulted. Miss Frank leaves our company at her own request’.
Selma’s story is just so tragic, although she had been liberated she never got to enjoy her freedom. She died on the same day as the man who was responsible for her death.