At 1100 on Wednesday 16th November the ‘Hohne Cross’ was installed outside St Alban’s Church on Folly Crescent by the DG and deputy Chaplain General.
On the 15th April 1945 elements of the British Army liberated Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, in Lohheide (Hohne), Northern Germany. Situated next to a large German Army barracks and training area, the Concentration Camp was established to hold around 16,000 mainly female prisoners. At its liberation, the British Army found 12,000 unburied corpses and almost 53,000 men, women and children starving to death. The camp was by that stage also ravaged by a typhus epidemic. In the months that followed the British Army used the neighbouring Army barracks as a hospital to triage the former prisoners.
In 1954 St George’s Church was built on the Barracks to serve the British Military community. To commemorate its opening, the ‘Hohne Cross’ was made and gifted to the church. Uncertainty exists over its heritage with local (German) folklore suggesting former Polish Prisoners of War awaiting repatriation had made the cross and that the wood came from the railway line leading to the Concentration camp.
For sure, however, the ‘Hohne Cross’ stood outside St George’s Garrison Church, Hohne for sixty years from 1954 until the British military withdrawal. When the Garrison and barracks were handed-back to the German military, the ‘Hohne Cross’ was relocated to St Alban’s Church at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom.