Football in time of Horror-The football competition in Westerbork


This must be one of the most amazing events I came across but amidst all the killing,torture,deportations and other horrors in Camp Westerbork, they actally found time to set up a football competition.

The competition was made up of several teams of Jewish inmates and started in spring 1943, it was a welcome distraction and gave some sense of hope of survival.

It must also have been a way of taking a bit of revenge on the members of the OD(Ordnungsdeinst) or Capos some of them also played in the tournament.

Some players did survive the Holocaust but the majority of them died in the extermination camps, along with Han Hollander who had been a famous Dutch sports commentator,with the broadcaster AVRO prior to  the war. He died on July 9,1943 in Sobibor.


Juda de Vries, who had been a celebrated goal keeper of HFC Haarlem was send to Westerbork in 1942. For a short time he entered the competition, he was transported to Sobibor in May 1943 where he was killed.


Although the competition was short lived for most it had given them that feeling of ‘normal’ life again, however short lived it was it must have felt magical.



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