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deportations, judenrat, majdanek, westerbork, chelmno, vught, wannsee, theresienstadt, roma, sinti, night of the broken glass, extermination camps, nazi´s,
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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,
On 1 July 1942 Refugee camp Westerbork officially became Transit camp Westerbork sending 104,000 Dutch and German Jews and 250 Dutch Sinti and Roma making use of the regular rail service, mostly freightcars, to their death in extermination camps in Poland. The Nazi's had tightened the noose for the Dutch Jews issuing restricting orders on an almost daily basis. As of 1 July 1942, Transit camp Westerbork officially fell under the jurisdiction of the Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei - Sipo - und Sicherheitdienst - SD - Commander in Chief of the Security Police and Security Service. The first German camp commandant was SS-Sturmbannführer - SS Major, dr. Erich Deppner. He was in charge from 1 July 1942 to 1 September 1942. Deppner was a cruel individual totally lacking compassion. It was Deppner who handled the first transport from Westerbork to Auschwitz/Birkenau causing a near riot when, in order to fill the required quota of 1,000 deportees, he added children to the transport without taking their parents. He also added several women who happened to be standing at the gate waiting to be admitted into the camp.
Because of this incident, Deppner was replaced by SS-Sturmbannführer - SS Major, Josef Hugo Dischner (no picture available) on 1 September 1942. Dischner was an alcoholic who regularly beat inmates with his whip causing great panic among the detainees. Dischner lasted just six short weeks. In order to dupe the unsuspecting Jews passing through Westerbork into believing that the future really was not too bad, the Nazis quickly replaced him with the gentleman/criminal SS-Obersturmführer - 1st Lieutenant in de SS, Albert Konrad Gemmeker on 12 October 1942. Gemmeker arranged that Schol was discharged in January 1943 by the Dutch Department of Justice. Obviously he did not want witnesses to the Nazi Entjudung plan. Gemmeker continued as commandant of Westerbork until 11 April 1945, one day before the arrival of the Canadian liberators.
A second camp, smaller in size but more vicious in its treatment of prisoners, was Camp Vught close to Den Bosch, the capital of the province of Noord Brabant. Located in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands it was foremost used to incarcerate political prisoners and hostages. Nevertheless, also this camp was used to house and process Jewish victims until they could be deported via Westerbork to Auschwitz or Sobibor.
Between July 1942 and November 1944 more than 104,000 Dutch and German Jews and 245 Roma and Sinti passed through these two camps. Of these, 65 train loads with 60,330 victims were sent directly to Auschwitz II, a.k.a. Birkenau. Most victims never saw the cynical sign which read ARBEIT MACHT FREI - Work Liberates. The wrought iron sign was mounted above the entrance gate to Stammlager Auschwitz - Mother Camp Auschwitz. In stead, they were routed directly to Birkenau where, immediately upon arrival, the dreaded selection and for most extermination took place.
Some able men and women were separated from the elderly and from women with children. Men and women, and certainly children not considered fit for labor went straightway to the gas chambers. The last train to reach Birkenau left Westerbork on 3 September 1944. Only 854 deportees, who left Westerbork, survived the hell of Birkenau. After the war it became only too clear what had happened to the rest. The full extent of genocide was exposed in 1945.
In total 19 train loads with in total 34,313 Jews were sent directly from Westerbork to Sobibor. The clock at the railway station near camp Sobibor was a fake. The hands of the clock never moved. That, however, was not noticed by the unfortunate victims who were hurriedly forced off the train. Immediately upon arrival they were led toward the gas chambers for extermination. Just 18 Dutch Jews escaped death from this place of horror. A timetable showing arrivals and departures was fake also. No train ever left Sobibor for another destination. The emptied trains excepted, of course. It was sent back with closed doors only to return with more victims. The 34,313 Jews who arrived here from camp Westerbork never noticed that this station was the end of the road for them. Not until it was too late!
In addition, 9 trains loads with 4,894 Jews left Westerbork for Terezin - Theresienstadt, an Internment camp and Transit camp north of Prague located in what is known today as the Czech Republic. Of these, about 2,000 survived the war. The remaining 4,413 victims were shipped to Bergen-Belsen, yet another notorious concentration camp which was located in the vicinity of Hanover, Germany.
An estimated 104,000 Jews and a 250 Sinti and Roma passed through camp Westerbork. Among them were 22025 under the age of 21. After the last transport had left for Bergen-Belsen on 13 September 1944, approximately 600 Jews remained behind. Among them were Oberdienstleiter - Chief Administrator Kurt Schlesinger, dr. Spanier, the Chief medical officer and Arthur Pisk, the leader of the OD. Several other selected members of the German Jewish camp elite were also among the survivors as well. Before, their task had been to assemble and monitor the dreaded lists for the transports, now they were charged with the liquidation of the camp in anticipation of the inevitable arrival of the Allied forces. As far as the Nazis were concerned, the 'Jewish question' for the Netherlands was resolved. The SS office in Berlin, Bureau IV B4, under the authority of SS Obersturmbannführer - Lieutenant Colonel in the SS Adolf Eichmann, was more than satisfied with the efficiency by which deportation of the Dutch and German Jews to the extermination centers in Poland had been carried out and was completed.
Herdenkingscentrum Westerbork - Remembrance Center Westerbork is located at the entrance to the grounds. It keeps the memory alive of all Dutch Jews and Roma who once were part of and blended in with the general population of the Netherlands. In a gallery of pictures, paintings, and artifacts, this memorial accurately and truthfully presents the history of Durchgangslager Westerbork.