Bergen-Belsen, the largest DP camp in Germany, was the center of Jewish DP political and social activity in the British zone of occupation. As home of the most prominent and vocal community in the Sh'erit ha-Pletah, Bergen-Belsen DP camp became synonymous with the plight of the Jewish DPs and their conflict with the British.
Bergen-Belsen DP camp was established in a defunct German army camp near the former concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, whose barracks had been burned as a health precaution. Though the British attempted to name the new camp Hohne, the survivors refused the change. After November 1945, when the British allowed the segregation of Jews into their own portion of the camp, the Jewish inhabitants of Bergen-Belsen comprised the only exclusively Jewish DP population in the British zone.
In 1946, the refugee center housed over 11,000 Jews. Though Bergen-Belsen was the only all-Jewish camp in the British zone of Germany, the camp's survivors struggled with the British policy of denying Jews status as a distinct group for nearly a year before securing an exclusively Jewish community. In 1946, the British army prevented any more DPs from entering Bergen-Belsen, and, in March 1946, they transferred administration of the camp to the UNRRA.
Politically active from the outset, Bergen-Belsen survivors formed a camp committee just three days after liberation. Camp leader Josef Rosensaft also formed the first Central Committee of Liberated Jews in Bergen-Belsen in June 1945. Under the stewardship of Bergen-Belsen leaders Rosensaft and Norbert Wollheim, the Committee grew into an organization that lobbied the British on behalf of the DPs' political, social, and cultural causes, including advocacy of emigration from Europe to British-controlled Palestine.
Bergen-Belsen DPs, like other Jewish DPs in the British zone, protested the United Kingdom's restrictive immigration policies to Palestine. Members of the Jewish military force in Palestine (the Haganah) held clandestine military training in Bergen-Belsen in December 1947 to prepare DPs for immigration to Palestine. British authorities forbade free departure from the camp until 1949.
Survivors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp organized political, cultural, and religious activities just weeks after liberation. Bergen-Belsen was the site of an astounding rebirth of family life, with an average of twenty weddings per day after the first few months. The DPs founded an elementary school as early as July 1945, and by 1948, 340 pupils attended the school. A high school, which was staffed partly by soldiers from the Jewish Brigade, was established in December 1945. The DPs also provided education for the children of Bergen-Belsen by way of the camp's kindergarten, orphanage, and yeshiva, a religious school. ORT vocational training schools organized occupational education.
The DPs of Bergen-Belsen created and maintained a lively cultural life and published Unzer Shtimme (Our Voice), the main Jewish newspaper of the British zone. By the middle of 1950, the camp was nearly empty and the last DPs left by August 1951. The majority of Bergen-Belsen's DPs immigrated to Israel.