In 1943, 19 trains left Westerbork for Sobibor. Over 34.000 men, women, and children from The Netherlands made this journey. Not knowing where they would go, thinking they would be resettled. Most of these people were all murdered within a five months of arriving in Sobibor. Only 18 people out of all these Dutch transports to Sobibor survived the war.
On March 2, 1943, the first train with 1105 people departed from Westerbork camp to Sobibor. After a journey of three days, the train arrived on March 5.
The last train that left Westerbork for Sobibor left Westerbork on Tuesday, July 20, 1943. This was transport 19. In the cattle cars, there were 2209 men, women, and children. No survivors.
I am not able to tell the stories of all 34,000 victims, but I can tell the story of a few of them.
Catherina Veffer-Appelboom arrived in Westerbork on 23 February 1943 and stayed in barrack 55. The higher barracks served as transit barracks during this period. Catherina was one of those on the first transport of March 2, 1943. The journey took 3 days she was murdered on March 5th in Sobibor. She was born in Amsterdam, on September 18, 1868. She was aged 74 when she was murdered,
Her son Jonas would follow along with his wife and their youngest daughter: the three of them were part of the children’s transport from Vught. They were murdered in Sobibor on 11 June.
Catherina’s older sister, Rebecca, had already arrived in Westerbork on 25 January 1943 and was staying in barrack 84. Their brother Gerrit arrived in Westerbork two days after Catherina was deported to Sobibor. A week later, together with his sister Rebecca, they were put on a transport to Sobibor, where they were murdered on March 13, 1943.
The 17th train that left for Sobibor left on Tuesday, July 6 from Westerbork. Aboard there were 2417 men, women, and children. They were all murdered upon arrival in Sobibor on Friday, July 9.
One of them was 6 years old Lea Judith de la Penha from Amsterdam.
Lea Judith de la Penha was the daughter of David de la Penha (Amsterdam, 12 August 1909) and Judith Rodrigues Parreira (Amsterdam, 27 September 1903). The family lived at Graaf Florisstraat 21 until 11 May 1943 and then until 6 July 1943 at Graaf Florisstraat 5-1.
Lea’s Father, David, was a wall paperer and insurance agent by profession, and, according to the personal card of the city archives, also a stone printer. Her Mother, Judith, was a tailor.
Lea’s Father and mother were married in Amsterdam on August 8, 1934. In 1936 David and Judith had their first child, who was either stillborn or died soon after birth on April 5, 1936. This child was buried on April 6 at Beth Haim in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel.
Their daughter Lea was born on May 11, 1937.
David, Judith, and Lea were arrested in 1943 and were deported from Westerbork to Sobibor on July 6th. There were 2,417 people on this transport. On arrival on July 9, 1943, all people from this transport were murdered almost immediately.