Christmas in Westerbork.

At first glance when you look at the picture it doesn’t appear to be extraordinary. There is an officer clearly given a speech. There are a few Christmas trees at the back so it appears to be some sort of Christmas do.

The officer is Albert Konrad Gemmeker he was a German SS-Obersturmführer and camp commandant of the Westerbork transit camp.

He was considered the friendly face of Nazi evil. Known as a decent commander, who insisted that he never knew what happened to the Jews in camps such as Auschwitz. Yet during his reign at the Dutch camp, around 80,000 Jewish people were deported to Auschwitz.

On December 19,1942 Gemmeker threw a Christmas party, or rather a Julfest(Yule feast).

The venue for his party was Westerbork. According to some survivors, a line of shiny new cars had pulled up to the camp, with a number of high ranking SS officers and their mistresses or prostitutes, either way not their wives. Officers like Aus der Funten and photogtapher Breslau, Untersturmführer Hassel(who was there with his wife.

The big hall in Westerbork was filled with SS staff, celebrating. What makes it even more disturbing is that their food was cooked and served by some of those 80,000,Gemmeker would later send to Auschwitz, to be murdered.

sources

https://www.rug.nl/news/2019/05/kampcommandant-gemmeker-jarenlang-bevreesd-voor-nieuwe-rechtszaak?lang=en

https://anderetijden.nl/aflevering/406/Kerstmis-in-Westerbork-

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

Silvain Wolf-Just a holiday trip

Silvain Wolf was just a footnote in history. But his story is an important one to tell.

He was born on October 7,1902 in Beek, a small town in the province of Limburg, in the South East of the Netherlands.

In 1930 he moved to nearby Sittard, where he got a job with his uncle Adolf Wolf- In the shop Wolf & Hertzdahl. (Which is a shop I often passed when I worked in Sittard.)

On August 25,1942 Silvain got the call to report for labor in Germany. He wanted to hide but was too late. He was initially sent to Westerbork. In Westerbork he wrote a few letters to his family. Below is part of the text of one of those letters.

“We are all good… Mrs van de Hors is keeping well too. Sophie(his sister) needs to remain tough, or do something else……. We had red cabbage and rotten unpeeled potatoes, and will disappoint more often.

You all keep strong, it is just a Holiday trip”

That last line says so much. He was still anticipating a return home. This was because the Nazis had created the illusion that all wasn’t that bad. On August 28,1942 he was put on a transport to Auschwitz.

But Silvain and other men were taken off the train in Kosel ,about 80 km away from Auschwitz. From labor camp Kosel the men were sent to other camps ,after that theirs and Silvain’s fate is unknown. There is only a footnote saying ‘Died in middle Europe’ not even the date is known. They put Silvain’s date of death on April 30,1943 but that is a fictional date.

He was punished and killed because he was Jewish.

sources

https://www.stolpersteinesittardgeleen.nl/Slachtoffers/Silvain-Wolf

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/123000/silvain-wolf

https://www.tracesofwar.nl/books/1648/Een-voetnoot-bij-de-wereldgeschiedenis.htm

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

Westerbork-Distraction from fate.

I have done several blogs on Westerbork before. The reasons why I highlight Westerbork so much are.

  1. It was the place where most Dutch Jewish and Jewish Refugees passed through before being sent to extermination camps
  2. It had initially set up as a refugee center for Jews prior to the war.
  3. Although the death toll was much lower in Westerbork then in other camps ,i was also one of the most sinister camps.

It is the sinister aspect I want to go into here. The biggest crime comitted in Westerbork was that it gave those who were imprisoned there hope or rather false hope. It was a distraction to the real fate that awaited them.

The Dutch government established a camp at Westerbork in 1939 to intern Jewish refugees, mostly from Germany. The first refugees arrived in Westerbork in October of that year. In April 1940, there were approximately 750 Jewish refugees housed in the camp. Some of them were German Jews who had been passengers on the St. Louis ship.

As you can see the picture above is of a football team. Amidst all the killing, torture, deportations and other horrors in Camp Westerbork, they actually found time to set up a football competition.

Some of the prisoners were well know European players, or players who played for major European teams.

Westerbork had facilities like a hospital, an orphanage with a playground, and a football competition fall into that category. The prisoners got hope and a sense of normality out of this.

How did the idea of a football competition come from ? In 1943 a small group of prisdoners went from Westerbork to Amsterdam where they had to work in a factory. Whilst on the train from Assen to Amsterdam, they read a paper, De Telegraaf, a widespread Dutch Newspaper. In this newspaper, it said that the national football competition was still going on. When reading this news, one of the group members got angry; they were playing without him! How could this be?

Within that group that traveled to Amsterdam were multiple footballers, such as Ignatz Feldmann, a famous professional footballer from Austria in the 1920s and the 1930s.

Feldman was one of the best defenders at that time. He was quite famous , not only in Austria but also in The Netherlands. So he had a certain status within Camp Westerbork and the Jewish community. During that train journey from Assen to Amsterdam, he came up with the idea of starting a football competition in the camp. The camp commandant allowed it.

It was a quiet professional-looking competition. With matches being played every week.

Eddy Hamel was an American Jew who played for AFC Ajax, Amsterdam. Ernst Alexander was a Jewish player for FC Schalke 04 and Árpád Weisz a Hungarian Olympic football player and manager, he was managing FC Dordrecht in the Netherlands when the war broke out. They all were murdered in Auschwitz.

But football was not the only thing that distracted the prisoners from their fate. There were factories, music, playgrounds, it was nearly like an ordinary town.

Camp Westerbork also had a school, orchestra, hairdresser, and even restaurants designed by SS officials to give inmates a false sense of hope for survival and to aid in avoiding problems during transportation.

The camp administration was headed by a German commandant. Westerbork had three commandants, all of whom were SS officers: Erich Deppner (July 1942–September 1942); Josef Hugo Dischner (September–October 1942); and Albert Konrad Gemmeker (October 1942–April 1945). German SS men and a rotating group of Dutch civilian and military police guarded the camp. In addition to the German and Dutch personnel, a Jewish police force ,called the Ordedienst or the OD, kept order in the camp.

Below is a film that shows life in Westerbork-It was recently discovered and restored. It is a long film but it is well worth the wwatch.

sources

https://schalke04.de/verein/schalke-hilft/handlungsfelder/stehtauf/ernst-alexander-auszeichnung/

https://footballmakeshistory.eu/football-at-the-concentration-camp/

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

European Hate

When you look at the picture you might think that it is an innocent portrayal , of a street somewhere in the Netherlands.

A typical Dutch scene. Someone cycling, two bikes parked against a sign. What could be hateful here?

It is actually the sign itself that has a message of hate. It says “Jews not wanted” or “Jews not desired” . Above the sign there is another one, it gives us the name of the town ‘de Bilt’ . This is not just any town in the Netherlands, it is one of the most affluent towns in the country, it has been for centuries. It was the birthplace of Joan Gideon Loten, a prominent member of the Dutch East India Company .It was also the birthplace of Johan Beyen a politician, who helped create the European Economic Community. During World War II, he was, in addition to his position at Unilever, financial advisor to the Dutch government in exile in London. In 1944, he played an important role during the Bretton Woods conference where the foundations were laid for the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. From 1946, he was the Dutch representative in the board of the World Bank and from 1948 also in that of the IMF.

The town is also where one of America’s wealthiest families originated from , the Vanderbilt family.

So a very influential town. No one in the town had to fear any hardships or job losses caused by Jews, yet this was one the lies spread by the Nazis.

The hateful rhetoric was based on nothing. Of course the sign, as many other signs, were put up on order by the Nazis, but there was little or no resistance by the population to put up them up.

The Holocaust didn’t happen overnight it was a gradual process.

De Bilt is and was also the home of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) since 1854. One of the institutes employees was Kittie Koperberg.

Kitty was fired from her job at the KNMI on November 21,1940 because she was Jewish. Even if she hadn’t been fired it was made very clear that she was no longer welcome in De Bilt. Like so many other Jews, Kittie was sent to Westerbork from there she was put on a transport to Sobibor on May 11,1943. When she arrived in Sobibor on the 14th of May she was murdered.

It is easy for me to judge in retrospect, however I don’t feel like it is a judgement but a critical analysis of the history of a dark era of the country I was born in. If we can’t be critical about our past we can never be critical about the present or the future. We will not learn from the mistakes that were made.

I know some people will jump on this blog to criticize the Dutch. But this will more then likely be done by people who live in one of the countries, that are currently white washing their mistakes, actively revising the history and distort it to suit their current narrative.

The hate against the Jews didn’t only exist in Germany but all over Europe.

The millions of victims of the Holocaust, and those who survived deserve better then that.

sources

https://cdn.knmi.nl/system/readmore_links/files/000/000/927/original/Kittie_Koperberg_1892-1943.pdf?1523974128

https://oorlogsgravenstichting.nl/persoon/83004/catharina-helmina-koperberg

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/vrouwen-toen-en-nu-kitty-koperberg-1892-1943-elly-pieta-van-beek/?originalSubdomain=nl

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

Hans Weinberg murdered in Dorohucza

Hans Weinberg would have celebrated his 100th birthday today. Although there is not that much data on Hans, and the data which is available his very clinical, it does illustrate the horrors of the Holocaust.

Hans was born on November 22,1921 in Amsterdam He was murdered-although some may say died- on November 30,1943 in Dorohucza a labor camp in Poland.

I had not heard of Dorohucza before. This is how Dutch historian and Holocaust survivor Jules Schelvis described the camp.

“In Dorohucza, we lacked the most basic amenities. The inmates who were there were sleeping in dilapidated barracks. The roof had large gaps, so that lying on the bare floor, one had an unobstructed view of the sky. There was always a penetrating stench of dirty clothes and unwashed bodies. Drinking water was not there. We were given black gunk they called coffee and soup, which consisted of half a liter of water with pieces of sauerkraut and an almost transparent slice of dog food. The water from the river that flowed past the camp was undrinkable. It was very dirty, because the river also served as a laundry room by the prisoners when they unsuccessfully tried to get rid of their lice after work.”

Dorohucza was the location of a forced labor camp of the Lublin Reservation complex. According to Jules Schelvis, at least 700 Dutch Jews were imprisoned there building latifundia of Generalplan Ost for the German settlers. Jules Schelvis and Hans Weinberg were both prisoners there.

Hans Weinberg’s timeline.

Born November 22,1921 in Amsterdam.

May 10,1940, German troops invade the Netherlands. Hans is 18.

January 7,1941 Hans and other Jews were no longer allowed to go the cinema.

May 3.1942 ,all Dutch Jews including Hans had to wear a Yellow star.

Hans was imprisoned in Camp Westerbork, the Netherlands until July 20,1943.

On July,20 1943, Hans was deported to Sobibor, Poland. There were 2245 people on that transport. Age 0 to 12-19;age 13 to 18-297;age 19 to 25-179; age 26 to 35-179; age 36 to 50-375;age 51 to 65-563; age 66 to 80-380; age 80+ 253

November 30,1943 Hans is murdered in Dorohucza. The sad thing is he came from an extermination camp to be murdered in a labor camp.

Sources

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/tijdlijn/Hans-Weinberg/02/168909

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/213905/hans-weinberg

https://www.geni.com/projects/Dorohucza-Labor-Camp/38202

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

Music in Westerbork.

Compared to other concentration camps ,Westerbork was ‘reasonably’ safe and life was less harsh there, But that is also what made it a more sinister place.

From 1942 to 1945, Westerbork was a transit camp (Durchgangslager) located in the Netherlands. As a transit camp, Westerbork served as a temporary collection point for Jews in the Netherlands prior to their deportation by the Germans to killing centers and concentration camps in the east.

Westerbork was originally established in 1939 by the Dutch before the German invasion of the Netherlands. It began as a refugee camp for German Jewish refugees who had fled Nazi persecution.

The Nazis created an illusion that all of the measures they had introduced for the Jews were only temporary. They even had a football league in the camp.

Music also played a big part in Westerbork. The picture at the start of the blog is of Jazz violinist Benny Behr. He is playing for some of the children of the camp. For them he would play uplifting children’s songs. Fr older people who would also play classical pieces.

Benny Behr was married to a non-Jewish woman, Wien Bouwina Sijtina Havinga. Because of that he enjoyed freedoms which other Jews did not have. But these freedoms were only temporary On August 1,1944 Benny ended up in Westerbork, where he remained until the camp was liberated in April 1945.

The Westerbork Serenade is the title of a love song written by Dutch singing duo,Nol (Arnold Siméon) van Wesel and Max (Salomon Meyer) Kannewasser aka Johnny and Jones, just before their deportation to Auschwitz in 1944. The play tells the true story of Jewish cabaret performers held by the Nazis in the Dutch transit camp of Westerbork, and portrays songs and vaudeville sketches that were actually staged in the camp revues. Some of Berlin’s greatest stars performed at Westerbork, thereby delaying their transport to death camps.

In 1943 Max,Nol and their wives were arrested and were send to the Westerbork transit camp.In the camp they performed once under the name Jonny und Jones because only the German language was allowed during performances. In 1944 they were sent on a day’s work assignment from Westerbork to Amsterdam, during which they managed to secretly record the song “Westerbork Serenade”.

The song starts off , with them singing that they don’t feel like themselves and that they aren’t great. Their hearts beat like the airplane demolishing yard, which was actually the job assigned to them in the camp, dismantling crashed warplanes.

This the translation of the lyrics

Hello we feel a little out of order,
To pull myself together is quite hard,
Suddenly I’m a different person,
My heart beats like the airplane wrecking yard.

I sing my Westerbork serenade,
Along the little rail-way the tiny silver moon shines
On the heath.
I sing my Westerbork serenade
With a pretty lady walking there together,
Cheek to cheek.
And my heart burns like the boiler in the boiler house,
Oh it never hit me quite like this at Mother’s place
I sing my Westerbork serenade,
In between the barracks I threw my arms around her
Over there
This Westerbork love affair.
And so I went over to the medic,
The guy says: “there is nothing you can do;
Oh but you will feel a whole lot better
After you give her a kiss or two
(But that you must not do…)”

Even in this dark period they managed to keep composure and a sense of humour.

On 4 September 1944 Van Wesel and Kannewasser were deported on one of the last transports from Westerbork to a number of concentration camps: Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen, Ohrdruf and Bergen-Belsen. They died of exhaustion during the last days of the war in 1945.

Transports were a traumatic experience for Jews in Westerbork. Witness testimonies mention confusion, distress, and brutality. For example, Dutch-Jewish journalist Philip Mechanicus, who kept a diary of life in Westerbork, described a transport that took place on June 1, 1943. He wrote:

“The transports are as nauseating as ever.… Men, quiet, stone-faced; women, often in tears. The elderly: stumbling, faltering under their burden, tripping on the bad road sometimes into pools of mud…. Whoever hesitates, whoever dawdles, is being assisted; sometimes herded, sometimes shoved, sometimes beaten, sometimes punched, sometimes persuaded by a boot, quickly shoved aboard the train…. When the cars are full, the prescribed number of deportees having been loaded, the cars are sealed…. The commandant signals the departure: a wave of the hand. The whistle sounds … a heart-rending sound is heard by everyone in the camp. The grungy snake, now fully loaded, crawls away.”

The transport Mechanicus describes included 3,006 people. It arrived at the Sobibor killing center on June 3, 1943. Jules Schelvis, who had spent six days in Westerbork prior to deportation, was the only known survivor of this transport.

Looking back at the picture at the start of the blog. When you take it out of context, you might think it is a group of scruffy kids hassling a violin player. However when you put it in the context of Westerbork and the Holocaust, there is the realisation that most, if not all, of these kids listening to the music in Westerbork, will have been murdered shorty afterwards. And that knowledge breaks my heart.

sources

Home

https://westerborkportretten.nl/bevrijdingsportretten/benny-behr

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/westerbork

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

Happy Birthday Aron Polak

Aron would have been 80 today, but he didn’t even get to the age of 2. He was born in Amsterdam on September 8, 1941. He was murdered in Sobibor March 26,1943.

The fact that he was murdered at such a young age is not even the saddest part of his story. There was actually a change he could have survived.

Aron’s Father, Joseph, was sent to Westerbork, I am not sure on what date, bur sometime after November 1941. After that Aron’s Mother, Lena, went into hiding with Aron. She moved several times. Eventually she stayed with Family but due to tensions Lena decided to voluntarily report herself and Aron to Westerbork.

Lena actually believed that her Husband had a job in Westerbork, sorting out gold and silver. She probably thought that he could provide for his family, even in Westerbork.

Lena and her son Aron eventually reported themselves voluntarily in Westerbork on 27 February 1943. They stayed in barrack 72 and on the 1st of March, Joseph was also in that barrack. On March 23,1943, , the Polak family was deported to Sobibor and on arrival there on 26 March 1943 immediately sent to the gas chambers, and were murdered.

What is so disturbing about this, is that the Nazis somehow created the illusion that even when you were sent to Westerbork, there was a chance of a reasonable normal life.

As for young Aron, I will be looking up to the sky tonight, imagining he is one of the stars I will see. Happy Birthday little man, you were a star to your parents, and you are a star for all of us. A beacon to remind us of what you went through.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/649374/het-lot-van-lena-barend-haar-man-joseph-polak-en-hun-zoontje-aron.

https://geheugenvanoost.amsterdam/page/26420/geen-afscheid

Children murdered on September 6, 1944.

I was going to do a piece on Ursula Gerson, who was murdered in Auschwitz on September 6,1944 aged 8. But then I saw there were more Dutch Jewish children and Jewish refugees, who fled Germany and Austria with their parents, who were murdered that day.

Duifje Gans. murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 11

Mirjam Lisette Katz, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Heijman Karel Franken, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 10.

Jeanette Regina Schenk, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Mary Winnik, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Mietje Judith Moscou, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 11.

Samuel Groenteman, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 6.

Karel Jacobs, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 13.

These are only a few. There were at least327 Dutch Jews whose death were registered on September 6,1944.About 30 % or so were children

I was wondering why there were so many on that specific date.Then it dawned on me. They were all on the last transport from Westerbork to Auschwitz, which left the Netherlands on September 3,1944. Anne Frank and her family were also on that transport.

I know that I will have nightmares tonight with the faces of these poor souls haunting me, but it will be worth it. There fate and names should never be forgotten.

source

Remembering Isaias(Sjakie) Degen

I wish I could say I am remembering Sjakie Degen for his breakthrough work in science.

I wish I could say I am remembering Sjakie Degen for a great book he wrote.

I wish I could say I am remembering Sjakie Degen for a great painting he painted.

I wish I could say that Sjakie Degen was the Sjakie mentioned in the Dutch song “Sjakie van de hoek” Sjakie from the corner, the mischievous boy who broke a window by kicking a ball through it.

But none of that would be true, Sjakie Degen was just a boy.

He was born on December 13.1939 the first born son of Loutje and Beppie Degen and was nearly 3 1/2 years old, when he and his parents were registered in Camp Westerbork on 23 March 1943. He stayed with his parents for a few days in barrack 60. They were all deported on the 6th April to Sobibor. Upon arrival there on 9 April 1943, Sjakie and his parents were murdered in the gas chambers the very same day.

So all I can say about Sjakie is that he was murdered 25 years and 1 day before I was born.

He had brother who survived.

source

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/562959/about-isaias-sjakie-degen

Westerbork

I have written about Westerbork before, but today I want to address the paradox and the misconception of the camp.

Camp Westerbork was a Nazi transit camp in Drenthe province, northeastern Netherlands, during World War II. It was used as a staging location for sending Jews to concentration camps elsewhere, mainly Auschwitz and Sobibor.

The Dutch government established a camp at Westerbork in 1939 to intern Jewish refugees, mostly from Germany. The first refugees arrived in Westerbork in October of that year. In April 1940, there were approximately 750 Jewish refugees housed in the camp. Some of them were German Jews who had been passengers on the St. Louis ship.

In May 1940, Nazi Germany invaded and occupied the Netherlands. In the first two years after the invasion, Westerbork continued to function as a refugee camp. From May 1940 to July 1942, the camp remained under Dutch administration. Under the Dutch, conditions were fairly good.

In July 1942, the Germans took over the administration of Westerbork and transformed it into a transit camp.

The camp administration was headed by a German commandant. Westerbork had three commandants, all of whom were SS officers: Erich Deppner (July 1942–September 1942); Josef Hugo Dischner (September–October 1942); and Albert Konrad Gemmeker (October 1942–April 1945). German SS men and a rotating group of Dutch civilian and military police guarded the camp. In addition to the German and Dutch personnel, a Jewish police force ,called the Ordedienst or the OD, kept order in the camp.

Camp Westerbork also had a school, orchestra, hairdresser, and even restaurants designed by SS officials to give inmates a false sense of hope for survival and to aid in avoiding problems during transportation.

Despite this illusion people still died in the camp, often they were murdered.

Jacques Schol, a Dutchman, was an officer in the camp from July 16 1940 until January 1943. He was known for his brutality against Jewish inmates, kicking inmates to death.

SS-Obersturmbahnfuehrer Albert Konrad Gemmeker, was the last commandant of Westerbork. He became to be known as the “gentleman-commander,” because of his polite and friendly behaviour. After the war, he declared, during his trial, like many perpetrators, that he didn’t know of the massive extermination of millions of innocents. Etty Hillesum, unlike Gemmeker’s judges, was not blindsided by his behaviour and in her letters she described and criticized the commander, exposing him as one of the most important executors of the extermination system, the key player in eradicating the Jews of the Netherlands.

After the war an eyewitness gave this heartbreaking account: “Indescribable scenes followed. Penetrating screams of a dead-scared half-crazed mother, the crying of children, the dumb-struck looks of some of the men, and the lamentation of the people who stayed behind. This caused shivers to run down my spine.”

Another eyewitness said “People who were selected for transport began packing their belongings and clothed their children. They got ready for the trip, knowing very well that no reprieve was forthcoming. Those who stayed behind for at least one more week often aired their relief by crying or they would break out in dance behaving like overjoyed kids.”

Transports were a traumatic experience for Jews in Westerbork. Witness testimonies mention confusion, distress, and brutality. For example, Dutch-Jewish journalist Philip Mechanicus, who kept a diary of life in Westerbork, described a transport that took place on June 1, 1943. He wrote:

“The transports are as nauseating as ever.… Men, quiet, stone-faced; women, often in tears. The elderly: stumbling, faltering under their burden, tripping on the bad road sometimes into pools of mud…. Whoever hesitates, whoever dawdles, is being assisted; sometimes herded, sometimes shoved, sometimes beaten, sometimes punched, sometimes persuaded by a boot, quickly shoved aboard the train…. When the cars are full, the prescribed number of deportees having been loaded, the cars are sealed…. The commandant signals the departure: a wave of the hand. The whistle sounds … a heart-rending sound is heard by everyone in the camp. The grungy snake, now fully loaded, crawls away”

Albert Konrad Gemmeker lived in a luxurious villa at the entrance of the camp where he would often entertain friends. Like this Christmas party(Gemmeker is on the far right)

He may have appeared to have been an SS officer who treated prisoners humanely, it was during his reign where most of the 100,000 plus Jews were transported to Auschwitz, Sobibor and a few other camps. There was no way that he didn’t know what the fate would be for those he put on transport.

On 3 September 1944, Anne Frank and the seven others who had been living in hiding in the Secret Annex were put on a transport to Auschwitz. Along with over a thousand other Jewish prisoners. This was the last transport from Westerbork to Auschwitz.

In 1949, when the Dutch left their over 300 year occupation of Indonesia, native Indonesians were left in political unrest. Some people who had collaborated with French, Algerian, and Dutch militaries were evacuated, because they were the subject of anger by the other indigenous people who had resisted colonization and felt betrayed at the Moluccan peoples siding with their colonizers. The peoples were promised a quick return to their homeland. However, from 1951 to 1971, former indigenous Moluccan KNIL soldiers and their families were made to stay in the camp. During this time, the camp was renamed Kamp Schattenberg.

sources

http://www.holocaust-lestweforget.com/albert-konrad-gemmeker.html

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa24289

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/westerbork

https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9789048550173-007/html

https://www.holland.com/global/tourism/destinations/provinces/drenthe/camp-westerbork.htm

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00