I believe that one of the most evil crimes committed by the Nazi regime was the crime of false hope. In Westerbork the illusion was created that all wasn’t that bad. Everything was arranged to give prisoners the impression that they would be sent to working camps in Eastern Europe. Life there would be heavy, hard, and monotonous, but it would be liveable. In any case, children and families would be together. That was the information provided at the time.
In the period of 1943-1944, Westerbork’s commander Gemmeker arranged a variety of recreational facilities to make life in the camp run as normally as possible. There were sports facilities, music and cabaret,which also served his own amusement. There was even a fully functional HospitalThe ‘decent’ treatment by the Nazis, the system of exemptions, the hospital, and the cabaret served only one purpose: the creation of illusions. After all, eventually, everyone had to be put on transport. The system only ended up providing false hope.
In January 1941, the German authorities required all Jews to register themselves as Jews. A total of 159,806 persons registered, including 19,561 persons born of mixed marriages. The total included some 25,000 Jewish refugees from the German Reich. A Jewish council was established in February 1941. Most of them were sent to Westerbork before they were deported to Auschwitz, Sobibor or other camps. less then 25% of the Dutch Jewry survived the Holocaust.
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