On July 1st 1942 the Nazis took control of Concentration camp Westerbork. Jacques Schol, a Dutchman, was commander of the camp from July 16 1940 and until January 1943. He was known for his brutality against Jewish inmates, kicking inmates to death.
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.
The first deportation transport left Westerbork on July 15, 1942, for Auschwitz-Birkenau. This first transport was followed by more than 90 subsequent transports to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sobibor, Theresienstadt, and Bergen-Belsen. Most of those people deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Sobibor were killed upon arrival.
Initially the deportations from Westerbork to Auschwitz consisted mainly of young men, who were deported to Eastern Europe under the appearance of “Arbeitseinsatz” or ‘Labor input’ in Germany. Later transports also contained women and children.
Abraham de Leeuw was one of those young men who were put on the early transports from Westerbork to Auschwitz
He was born on 6 August 1921 in Amsterdam his parents were Hartog de Leeuw and Cato Bloemhof, Abraham was a single man and worked as a forwarding clerk.He was still living at home with his parents, until he was picked up and sent to Westerbork, on 18 July 1942. He was registered in Westerbork on July 19th and was deported to Auschwitz on 24 July.
Upon arrival in Auschwitz on July 27, Abraham was more the likely selected as a slave laborer inside or outside the camp. The exact date of his death is not known . Because of that the Dutch Ministry of Justice ordered the city of Amsterdam, after the war, to prepare a death certificate for Abraham de Leeuw, in which it was estimated that he died on 30 September 1942 in Auschwitz. This was common practice for most Dutch Jews who arrived in Auschwitz between 15 July 1942 and 30 September 1942.
Abraham de Leeuw would have been 100 years old today. There is a Dutch tradition ,although not Jewish, that when you reach the age of 50 you will Abraham. For women it is Sarah. It is in reference to Abraham and Sarah in the bible.
Abraham de Leeuw never got to see the age of 50 he was either still 20 or 21 when he was murdered.
Abraham was not just a number, he had a name. Every name counts.
#everynamecounts is an initiative by the Arolsen Archives which aims to establish a digital memorial to the people persecuted by the Nazis.
Future generations should be able to remember the names and identities of these victims. But the initiative is important to today’s society as well – because by looking back, we can see where discrimination, racism and antisemitism lead.