holocaust, jewish, extermination, concentration camp, shoah, auschwitz, belzec, treblinka, monowitz, birkenau, night of the long knives,
deportations, judenrat, majdanek, westerbork, chelmno, vught, wannsee, theresienstadt, roma, sinti, night of the broken glass, extermination camps, nazi´s,
hitler, jews, diaspora, jewish council, judenrat, transportation, birkenau, ghetto, hans vanderwerff, sion soeters, aktion reinhard, terezin, himmler, david irving
holocaust denial, holocaust lest we forget, jews, synagogue, oswald pohl, odilo globocnik, deportations, judenrat, majdanek, westerbork, chelmno, vught,
wannsee, theresienstadt, roma, sinti, night of the broken glass, extermination camps, nazi´s, hitler, jews, diaspora, jewish council, judenrat, transportation,
birkenau, ghetto, hans vanderwerff, sion soeters, aktion reinhard, terezin, himmler, david irving, holocaust denial, holocaust lest we forget, jews, synagogue,
oswald pohl, siegfried seidl, protectorate, bohemia, moravia, murmelstein, karl rahm, anton burger, karl hermann frank,
The third and last commandant of Westerbork, SS-Obersturmführer - 1st Lieutenant in the SS Gemmeker, was responsible for the composition of the list of names for the weekly transport. The exact number to be included for each transport was passed on to him by a sub-division of the Sicherheitspolizei - Security Police in the Hague. Gemmeker next called a meeting of the Jewish camp prominent instructing them to compose the list of names and finalize the transport which two days later, mostly on a Tuesday, would leave for Eastern Europe. After the names of the people were selected, the transport list was made up. The day before the dreaded departure rumors would fly in the barracks. Fear intensified, and usually panic followed. The night before departure the barrack elders would call off the names of the unfortunate ones in alphabetical order.
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."
And another eyewitness had this to contribute: "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."
Through the middle of the camp, adjacent to the Boulevard des Misères ran the newly constructed rail- road. Deportation trains made up of up to twenty freight, or rather cattle cars would arrive there, in anticipation of its human cargo. The Ordnungsdienst - Order Service or OD, a squad of Jewish police - themselves prisoners, was held responsible to ensure that each person whose name had been called off the night before would indeed board the train the next day. Those who for the time being were spared the ordeal had to remain locked inside their barracks. The OD would cordon off the dirt roads leading to the train preventing possible escape and guaranteeing quick embarkation. If necessary using physical force if normal coaxing did not work. The train carrying them to the killing centers of either Birkenau or Sobibor left Westerbork the next day promptly at 11 AM.
The notorious deportation transports took place between 15 July 1942 and 13 September 1944. Commandant Albert Konrad Gemmeker was the commander in chief of Durchgangslager Westerbork. His adjutant, friend, and colleague was SS Untersturmführer - 2nd Lieutenant in the SS Hassel who, like Gemmeker, hailed from Düsseldorf. Ironically, Gemmeker's lover was Mrs. Hassel, the estranged wife of his friend. Frau Hassel is pictured above with Gemmeker. After the war Frau Hassel was confined in the Netherlands in order to give testimony at the trial of Gemmeker, her lover. For the war crimes he committed, Gemmeker received the ridiculously light sentence of ten years imprisonment less time served. Frau Hassel, who was looked upon as Gemmeker's evil genius or his angry side, returned home to Düsseldorf a free person following her testimony at Gemmeker's trial. She would remain unpunished for her part played in the misery of Westerbork.
When in 1951 Gemmeker had completed his short prison term, he too returned to Düsseldorf. He too was now a free man. But the romance was over. Both married someone else and apparently never saw each other again. Yet, that could well have been the case because, ironically, both made use of the same general practitioner, the Jewish Dr. Spanier. You see, Dr. Spanier, who survived the war, returned to Düsseldorf also. The German Jewish camp doctor, an inmate himself, had been the head of the Medical Dienstzweig - Service Branch in Camp Westerbork. He had been the physician for both Gemmeker and Frau Hassel before the war. Now, once again, he became their physician again after the war.
Gemmeker's special war tribunal was held in Assen 15 miles north of the place where he served the Nazi cause so well. Even so, while he was in charge of Westerbork, he managed to gain the confidence and even respect from some of his hapless victims. A legend in kind existed regarding his so-called good-natured disposition. Some referred to him as:
Others thought he was:
A number of victims considered him to be:
Then there were those who referred to him as:
Gemmeker, who was born in 1907, died in the 70s in his beloved Fatherland to which he gave the best years of his life.