Werkdorp (Labor Camp) Wieringermeer was opened in 1934, and was managed by the Jewish Labor Foundation. It could accommodate about 300 residents, who would follow a short (two-year) training course.
The Werkdorp , built by the residents themselves – mostly refugees from Germany and Austria – was intended to train its temporary residents in practical skills that would enable them to live in israel and work in agriculture. The boys received a two-year manual or agricultural training, the girls a short instruction in agriculture and housekeeping. In the village there was a carpenter, a blacksmith, a bakery and a joiner’s workshop.
After the German invasion and occupation in the Netherlands, the village was evacuated on March 20 1941, except for about 60 who stayed behind. W. Lages and Klaus Barbie were involved.
From August 1940 until the eviction in March 1941, Abel Herzberg was director of the Jewish working village in the Wieringermeer. Herzberg was on the so-called Frederiks( Karel Johannes Frederiks was the secretary general of the department of internal affairs) list with his wife and three children and therefore enjoyed a certain protection.
On March 24, 1941, a number of members of the foundation board sent a letter to the Sicherheitspolizei in Amsterdam stating that continuing the training in the Werkdorp was the only option for the young people to emigrate afterwards. It was hoped that this would appeal to the occupier. Klaus Barbie indicated that he was sympathetic to a restart of the Werkdorp and would discuss this with Lages. On June 9, there was an answer and the members of the foundation board were told that the students could return to the Werkdorp. Barbie asked for a list of the names and addresses of the students living in Amsterdam. The foundation board believed Barbie and gave him the list. On June 11, the Werkdorpers received a message from the Jewish Council that the Nazis would come and collect them from their homes. A number of people did not believe what was about to happen and went into hiding.
Indeed, the Nazis had something else in mind. The attack on 14 May 1941 on the Bernard Zweerskade in Amsterdam – without casualties – and the attack on 3 June 1941 on the telephone exchange at Schiphol – one seriously injured – prompted the Nazis to carry out reprisal measures and they wanted 300 male Jews from 18 to 35 directly to Mauthausen.
The arrests of the Werkdorpers started on 11 June. In the end, 59 were arrested. They went to camp Schoorl. 58 of them were murdered in Mauthausen, one was gassed in Hartheim Castle.
Like Westerbork, Wieringermeer had also been built to accommodate Jewish refugees, prior to the war, but they were both turned into much more cynical places.
On August 12th, 1944 a report was issued in Haifa, Israel. regarding the situation of the Dutch Jewry up to May 1944, The transports to the death camps continued for another 4 months . Below is the transcript of the report. Wieringermeer is also mentioned in it.
There were 140.000 Jews in Holland at the beginning of the war (incl. 26.000 non dutch Jews)
Deported to Poland (including all orphanages, old-age homes, hospitals, lunatic-asylum Apeldoorn, and all Jews from Vught-camp excepting a few hundred working in Vught for Philips) 110.000
In hiding (estimated) 15.000
Married to Christians etc, deceased (all estimated) 6.000
(The number of Jews who are free in Amsterdam – there are none in the provinces – is negligible)
The ‘star’ of which I enclose one, had to be worn as from May 1942; the deportations started July 15th 1942 Up to December 31st 1942 40.000 Jews had been deported.
Wieringen on March 20th 1941 210 pupils (boys and girls with the Jewish manager) were brought to Amsterdam about 60 pupils and 20 people from the staff were allowed to remain in order to finish the harvesting of that years crops; they were allowed to remain until August 1st 1941 when the Werkdorp was finally liquidated.
About 60 of the pupils were sent to Mauthausen;
“ 100 were deported to Poland
“ 50 are still in Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen
“ 60 are in hiding.
The dutch authorities paid an indemnity for the property they took over; (although it were the Germans who ordered the liquidation; this money was used to keep two ‘Homes’ in Amsterdam for the remaining pupils until they too were finally dispersed in the great razzias on May 26th and June 20th 1943. The equipment of the carpentershop and the smithy and metalshop was used in trainingschools in Amsterdam and finally brought to Westerbork.
The following data were given to me in Vienna on my way through to Constantinople by the assistant of Dr Löwenherz who could not come personally;
Data July let 1944: Vienna Free Jews … 180
In hiding ………………………………………….. 2000
Versippte (Intermarriage etc) ………… 6- 8000
Sent to Theresienstadt 15000 (of whom 3800 still there)
Sent to Poland…………………………………… 48000
The rest (there were 2100000) emigrated or died.
9000 Hungarian Jews had come through Vienna on their way to Poland; 41000 were still expected. (We saw two transports of 1000 each, one in Vienna and one on the way to Hungary) 310000 jews in Budapest had not yet been interfered with.
Haifa, August 12th 1944″
It was signed by someone with the last name ‘Van Tijn’ unfortunately I don’t know who that is.