April 13, 1945 the concentration camp Westerbork was liberated by the Canadian Army. We go to Westerbork 70 years later. The village celebrates the end of the war. In my blog I tell you more about history, the festivities and my visit to “Kamp Westerbork”.
Two trains a week to Auschwitz
The Nazi’s (нацист) brought together Jewish people from all over Holland in concentration camp Westerbork and from there they were “transported” to Auschwitz. Anne Frank followed this fatal route along with 70 others pushed in the carriage of a freight train. Westerbork was the main transit camp to Auschwitz. (Judendurchgangslager) in the Netherlands. We visit camp Westerbork on April 13 2015. A bus takes us from the Memorial Center Westerbork to the concentration camp. Fierce winds and ice rain castigate an open field flanked on one side by a row of radio telescopes. I shiver. A surrealistic scene unfolds. Are these telescopes seeking contact with the 102.000 people who passed through this antechamber of death? At the entrance the residence of the camp-commander is inevitably marked as a token of apocalyptic history. The place, encased in a glass construction, delivers a clear message: We will never forget! The last train from Westerbork to Auschwitz left in september 1944. In april 1945 Canadians find 900 Jewish people in the camp. Some of them went home immediately. But Holland was not completely liberated yet. So, others stayed in the camp to guard Dutch collaborators that were imprisoned in the former concentration camp. Ironically the camp was founded and financed in 1938 by the Dutch National Jewish league to house Jews who fled Germany after the Kristallnacht. A Chronological overview of the Persecution of The Dutch Jews and the function of Westerbork in the master plan of the Nazi’s is displayed at the Memorial Center about the holocaust (ホロコースト) in Westerbork, Holland. The Center is open every day. Some people stay overnight with their camper on the parking lot.
Celebrating the liberation of Westerbork
The village of Westerbork buzzes with activity. The historical events that to took place on April 13 1945 are replayed by actors, volunteers and an impressive convoy of military vehicles. The final attack on the German Headquarter is reenacted. Shots, smoke, the rattling of tanks and children crying. History materializes in a vast parade of old military vehicles. The guys with their vehicles are already two weeks on the road. They reenact “The final Push” of the Canadian forces to liberate the North of Holland. In Holland a club called “Wheels” keeps old Willy Jeeps, trucks, motorcycles and tracked vehicles rolling. The convoy of “Keep them Rolling” continues the day after to Groningen. The guys, mainly single men, spend the night in tents or in their vehicle in a bivouac in the village.
Address: Memorial Center Westerbork, Oosthalen 8, 9414 TG Hooghalen ,T 0593 – 592600 The Center is open every day from 10 am till 17 pm on weekdays and from 13 to 17 pm in weekends. The Memorial Center is about 170 km from Amsterdam.
Rail ways in WW2 in Belgie 3 and 5 May 2015: Joint Dutch and Belgian Celebration in Maldigem Belgium: Railroad to Victory Festival in Maldegem, Belgium