Escaping a Jewish Work camp.

There were 4 concentration camps in the Netherlands. The best known was Westerbork, the other 3 were Vught,Amersfoort and Ommen.

A relatively unknown fact is that there were also an estimated 42 work/labour camps. Between January 1942 and October 1942 , the Jewish work camps in the Netherlands spread across the countrie from which unemployed Jews had to carry out outdoor work.

The work in the camps was heavy, in almost all cases waste ground had to be cleared. The digging is done by hand. The men work long days, from six in the morning to six in the evening.

On the night of October 2–3, 1942, during Yom Kippur, the Jewish men were removed from most of these camps. They were transported to camp Westerbork on the pretext of family reunions. Most of them were sent later to Auschwitz, Sobibor and other camps, where the majority were murdered.

Maurits Jakobs was one of the men who were interned in Vedder one of the work camps. The camp was run by a Dutch company, Nederlandsche Heidemaatschappij, although it was under supervision by the Nazi regime.

At the end of September 1942, Maurits Jakobs cycled through a pitch-black forest in the middle of the night. He had just escaped from the Jewish labour camp Vledder in Drenthe. At that time, hw was not yet aware that his old camp mates would be deported to extermination camps a few days later, via Westerbork.

He managed to escape from Camp Vledder with the help of supervisor Willems, who was employed by the Nederlandse Heidemaatschappij. Willems has parked his bicycle at the sandy path. But the initiative for the escape came from Jo Oldenburger, a former employee of Maurits.

Oldenburger knew that the situation for Jews was becoming increasingly ominous and arranged a hiding place for Maurits and his wife in the town of Emmen. In the evening Oldenburger is waited for Mauris at the camp with an extra bicycle. Maurits, who initially still had doubts, decided to go along and follows Jo via the sandy path into the dark forest.

Maurits knew. as long as he would see the red bicycle light of Jo Oldenburger, who cycled in front of him, it would be safe. That was the arrangement.. Suddenly the light disappeared from view and Maurits hid with bicycle and all in a ditch. But Jo appeared to have turned a corner. They agreed to stay closer together.

The bike ride of almost seventy kilometers was tough for Maurits, who had not been on a bicycle for at least a year. After a long and painful journey they arrived at the hiding place in Emmen. Thanks to various hiding places, the Jakobs’ couple managed to stay under the radar all this time. They both survived the war.

This was probably the most ‘Dutch’ escape one could imagine. Escape by bicycle.

sources

https://www.ru.nl/rich/our-research/research-groups/cultures-of-war-and-liberation/current-projects/projects/knhm-1929-1954/

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/artikel/maurits-jakobs-ontsnapt-dagen-voor-grootschalige-deportatie-uit-kamp-vledder

https://joodsewerkkampen.nl/geschiedenis

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1 Comment

  1. Parker says:

    Love this story.

    Like

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