When I saw this photograph I was reminded of another photograph. It was a picture of my colleagues and I in 1993/1994. It was taken at work on the day of the retirement of one of my colleagues at the time. We had a small party afterwards at the cafeteria of Philips Sittard. The picture was much dissimilar to the picture above.
However the circumstances could not be more different. The photograph is of a group of men who were all interned at the labor camp ‘de Fledder’ in Drenthe in the north east of the Netherlands.
On January 7, 1942, the Jewish Council in Amsterdam was pressured and held responsible for supplying 1,402 Jewish unemployed people. In the end, 1075 unemployed were identified and more than 900 men gathered at the Amstel station on 10 January. They were sent to the labor camps in the northern provinces, in particular to perform reclamation work for the Heidemij company
Of these men, 120 in total, were in Camp De Fledders near Norg in Drenthe. On October 3, Yom Kippur, 1942, the Jewish men we were deported by train to camp Westerbork. None of them survived the war.
When you look at the expression of the men’s faces, you can see all emotions from joy to sadness, and hope to despair. One man even has a bunch of flowers, possibly with the hope he will be able to give them to his wife.
The Heidemij company is now known as Arcadis NV , a global design, engineering and management consulting company. I don’t have any current figures but in 2019 the company had a revenue of 3.5 Billion Euro. Thier current stock price is € 33.50 per share. Their tagline is “Improving Quality of Life” it doesn’t appear to me that they improved the life of those who worked for them in 1942.
As for the men who were murdered in various camps after the labor camp closed, all that remains is this monument with these words by Jacqueline van der Waals:
‘EEN MONUMENT VOOR GISTEREN, VANDAAG EN MORGEN.
IN 1942 VERBLEVEN IN HET NABIJGELEGEN WERKKAMP
“DE FLEDDERS” 120 JOODSE MEDEBURGERS.
ZIJ KWAMEN NIET MEER TERUG.’
“A MONUMENT FOR YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW.
STAYED IN THE NEARBY WORK CAMP . IN 1942
“THE FLEDDERS” 120 JEWISH FRIENDSHIPS.
THEY DID NOT COME BACK.”
I sincerely hope that Arcadis paid for the monument. Somehow I doubt it though.