Labor Camp ‘De Fledders’

Group photo of ‘Room 3’ in Kamp De Fledders near Norg in Drenthe.

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:



I sincerely hope that Arcadis paid for the monument. Somehow I doubt it though.


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.



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. Thank you. 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.


Soviet labor camps


Before the close of World War II, when the Red Army failed to leave Eastern European countries, Stalin’s sphere of influence was expanding. Eventually that group of Soviet-occupied nations became known as the “Warsaw Pact.”

At Yalta, Stalin apparently never meant for his troops to leave.  He just forgot to mention it to Churchill and FDR.

It didn’t take long for Churchill to predict what would happen if Stalin controlled Eastern Europe. It was, he said (at thirty-eight minutes into his “Sinews of Peace” speech), as though an “Iron Curtain” had descended. Soon after one war ended, another – the “Cold War” – had begun.


Soviet propaganda posters claimed “We Are Invincible.” (From left to right the pictured flags are from occupied Romania, East Germany, Bulgaria, Soviet Union, Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia.)


No posters, and no propaganda mentioned another crucial fact: While Nazi concentration camps were being closed, more and more Soviet forced-labor camps were being opened.


The first Soviet labor camp (which Solzhenitsyn called the “mother of the GULAG”) was a former monastery – Solovetski Monastery. Perhaps there was symbolism in that choice with barbed wires replacing open doors.


Located in the far north of Russia, the monastery at Solovetski has its own walled fortress.  For six months every year, harsh winters in the area virtually cause the place (and its people) to become isolated from the rest of the world.

It was, in other words, an ideal place for a prison. Early leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution began to use it for that purpose.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn described the monastery-turned-labor-camp this way:

This was the basic idea behind Solovki.  It was a place with no connection to the rest of the world for half a year.  A scream from here would never be heard.