One was a teenage Jewish girl, forcibly transported from her home in Hungary to a Nazi concentration camp. The other was a British doctor, whose experiences serving in two world wars could not compare to the horrors he saw at the end of the war.
In her book All the Horrors of War: A Jewish Girl, a British Doctor, and the Liberation of Bergen-Belsen
(Johns Hopkins UP, 2020), Bernice Lerner describes their lives – one of them her mother, the other one of the people who helped save her – and how they intersected when British forces liberated Bergen-Belsen in April 1945. For Rachel Genuth, her life began to change when Hungarian troops marched into the formerly Romanian town of Sighet in September 1940. From that point onward, her family’s lives and those of her neighbors were increasingly restricted until they were deported to Auschwitz in the spring of 1944. While she struggled to survive, H. L. Glyn Hughes, the deputy director of medical services for the British VIII Corps, participated in the Allied liberation of western Europe, an experience that brought him to the Bergen-Belsen camp, where Rachel had been marched ahead of the Soviet advance to the east. Hughes spent the next several months organizing an unprecedented relief operation, trying desperately to save lives of thousands suffering from starvation and disease. Among them was Rachel, who was subsequently evacuated to Sweden, where she began the slow process of restarting her live after having survived so much death.