The Irish doctor who rescued kids from Belsen

Dr Robert Collis and Zoltan arriving in Ireland in 1946

Dr Bob Collis was one of the volunteer doctors from Ireland who worked with the British Red Cross in Bergen-Belsen immediately after the end of the war.   He brought six orphan Jewish child survivors back to Ireland.   His story was told in the Irish Independent Review.  (Read the full story

Seventy-five years after the liberation of the Nazi death camp, Clodagh Finn tells the remarkable story of Bob Collis, the Killiney doctor who brought five orphans back to Ireland.

As a team of Irish doctors approached Bergen-Belsen, the Nazi concentration camp liberated 75 years ago this week, they became aware of “a disquieting aroma” that came to them in wafts, gradually filling the air in the truck around them. “It was the Belsen smell of death and decay,” paediatrician and former rugby international Dr Bob Collis later wrote in his autobiography ‘To Be a Pilgrim.’

He went on to describe the unthinkable conditions: the British army had discovered unburied bodies – ten-feet high in places – and thousands of starving people when it liberated “The Horror Camp”, as it became known, in northern Germany on April 15, 1945.