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,
Near the village of Westerbork, in the province of Drente, the Dutch Government owned a tract of heath and marsh land surrounded by dense woods. This isolated piece of real estate appeared to be the ideal place to build a camp for German Jewish refugees. It was far enough removed from the village proper of Westerbork that refugees would not interfere with the daily business concerns of the villagers provided supervision was in place. Hence, mr. D.A. Syswarda (no picture available), a former administrator of an organization for psychiatric patients in Amersfoort, was appointed as the Director of refugee camp Westerbork. A serious concern for most Dutch government officials and for politicians was the fact that the German Jewish refugees, who had fled Nazi Germany in large numbers, would integrate with the local villagers. Initially 50 barracks were built capable of housing about 1,800 people. When the German army invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940, 1,150 legal and 650 illegal refugees had received accommodation in camp Westerbork. Many others were housed in various refugee shelters, homes, and sub-camps, 25 in total, throughout the Netherlands. Now, once again, they were caught in the web the Nazis were weaving around the Jewish people who lived in Europe.
The first 22 German Jewish refugees were interned in Centraal vluchtelingenkamp Westerbork - Central refugee camp Westerbork on 9 October 1939. Leo Blumensohn, who survived Westerbork, Auschwitz, Gleiwitz, Blechhammer and the death marches, was the first refugee officially registered at the Town Hall of the village of Westerbork. Reserve kapitein - Captain in the Reserves Jacques Schol of the demobilized Dutch Army Reserves and former commandant of yet another refugee facility called Hellevoetsluis, was appointed commandant of refugee camp Westerbork on 16 July 1940. He replaced mr. Syswarda who had held that position since the camp's inception.
Captain Schol introduced new regulations for the German Jewish refugees in February 1942. Since the internees for the most part spoke German, new camp rules were written and introduced in the German language. Schol incorporated all refugees over the age of fourteen into work groups. Several of these work groups together were called a Dienstzweig - Service Branch. He appointed over each Dienstzweig a Dienstleiter -Branch Head. The Heads of Service were responsible for the proper and effective operation of the Service Branches. Since Schol was unaware of the intent of the Nazis to not only exterminate the Dutch Jews but also the German Jewish refugees, the measures he took unfortunately set the stage for a most regrettable situation later on. Namely, he appointed the Heads of Service for these work tasks from among the German Jews already interned at Westerbork.
One of them was Kurt Schlesinger, who was made Oberdienstleiter - Chief over the Heads of Service. Dr. Fritz Spanier was appointed to the position of Chief Medical Officer, and Arthur Pisk was appointed to the position of Chief of the Ordnungsdienst - Head of the service for maintain order, a.k.a. OD. The OD was a service deemed necessary to function as camp fire brigade within camp perimeters. Later, following the transition from refugee camp to transit camp, the OD became known as the internal Jewish police force. It served to maintain order and discipline among the hapless detainees. Especially during the times of the dreaded transports 'to the East.' The OD consisted foremost of young German refugee Jews who earlier had served in the camp fire brigade. As a result, in comparison to the number of surviving Dutch Jews, quite a few German speaking Jews remained in Westerbork after the camp had been changed from refugee camp to Durchgangslager - transit camp for Dutch Jews. It must be acknowledged that most of the German speaking Jews did not belong to this elite group of Alte Lagerinsassen - senior camp inmates. They too were deported for Arbeitseinsatz im Ost - work detail in the East, whatever that stood for. At first the victims thought that they were relatively safe, but they would soon learn that deportation meant certain death in one of the Nazi operated extermination centers in Poland.
Captain Schol remained in office until early January 1943, having served under two German SS commandants. The third commandant, Gemmeker, made sure he was removed from office. During the first two years of Nazi occupation, the German internees lived in a status quo. The camp as yet lacked barbed wire and refugees were not treated as prisoners. However, they had to obtain a travel permit every time they wished to leave camp for whatever reason. Toward the latter part of 1941 orders were issued from Berlin for the German occupation authorities to commence with the Entjudung - cleansing process of Jews in the Netherlands. The existing and almost completed refugee camp near Westerbork was the ideal place. Tailor-made, so to speak. Early 1942, 24 barracks - large, but made of poor quality wood - capable of housing 300 people each, were added for this purpose. With the internal camp organization already in place and the barracks built, the wheels of evil were set in motion and the deportation of Jews from the Netherlands could begin.