What a lot of people don’t realize is that Camp Westerbork was actually established as a refugee camp for Jews escaping the Nazi regime in Germany and Austria.and who had illegally entered the Netherlands. It was established by the Dutch government in the summer of 1939.
In July 1942, the Nazis took over the camp and turned it into a transition camp. Jews arrested in the Netherlands were taken to the camp and put on transport. Transport trains arrived at Westerbork every Tuesday from July 1942 to September 1944, and left with close to 100,000 jews.But also Roma and Sinti were transported from Westerbork.
The Deportations were part of the responsibilities of Gestapo sub-Department IV-B4, which was headed by Adolf Eichmann.
Although the camp was relatively “humane” by Nazi standards , it was cruel in other ways. Jewish inmates with families were housed in 200 interconnected cottages The cottages contained two rooms, a toilet, a hot plate for cooking, and a small yard. Single inmates were put in oblong shaped barracks which contained a separate bathroom for each sex.
The camp also had a school, hairdresser, orchestra and even restaurants arranged by SS officials to give inmates a false sense of hope for survival but also to aid avoiding problems during transportation.
Nearly t all of the estimated 95,00 persons deported to Auschwitz and Sobibor in German-occupied Poland were killed upon arrival.
The camp was liberated by Canadian forces on April 12, 1945. A total of 876 inmates were found.
The fact that the Nazis maintained that false sense of hope is probably one of the most sickening aspects of the camp. They knew what the fate was of the inmates and giving them that hope that they would survive, that they were only going to be resettled to Eastern Europe.
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Liberation Route Europe