Kamp Westerbork - Hooghalen - The Netherlands

Address: Oosthalen 8, Hooghalen (See map)
Telephone: +31 (0)593 - 592600
Website: http://www.kampwesterbork.nl

Shop: shop present
Restaurant/refreshments: not available
Size of the museum/site: large
Year of visit: 2004

Description: Kamp Westerbork has served many different goals in its moving history, with some very ironic twists. It was established in 1939 by the Dutch to house Jewish refugees who fled Germany. When the Germans occupied The Netherlands in 1940 they used it as a deportation camp for Jews. After the second World War the camp again came back into Dutch hands and served as an internment camp for members of the NSB (the "Nationaal Socialistische Beweging", which co-operated with the Nazis). Finally the camp became a home for Molukkers. These people fought on the Dutch side during the struggle for control of Indonesia (or the Dutch East Indies as it was known then), and therefore couldn't stay in Indonesia after it gained its independence from The Netherlands. Westerbork fulfilled this role until 1971, when the last barracks were finally demolished.

Today Westerbork is a monument to the victims of the holocaust, open to visitors functioning as a warning from history. Very little is left from the actual camp itself, but slopes and walls have been erected marking the original locations of the barracks and other camp buildings. The impressive National Westerbork Memorial is part of the present-day site. The visitor centre near the parking lot (which is situated 3 kilometres from Kamp Westerbork!) provides background information on the daily life in the camp and its role in the German concentration-camp system.

Westerbork itself was simply a "durchgangslager" (a transit-camp), and as such didn't have gas-chambers nor sadistic SS guards, but its function in the Nazi's Endlösung was dark none the less. Every week a train would leave, carrying about 1000 people to the extermination camps in the east...

The visitors centre near the parking lot.

Information panels inside the visitors centre documenting camp-life.

Reconstruction of the interior of one of the barracks.

Suitcases symbolizing deportation.

The old camp commander's house.

102.000 stones representing all the people who were imprisoned in Camp Westerbork during WWII.

At the actual campsite, the contours of the most characteristic buildings are marked by rebuilt elements of the former structures.

A "camp within the camp", the detention barracks formed an entity on its own, seperated from the rest by fences and barbed wire. Most people in this part of the camp were deported to the extermination camps in Poland on a short term.

The only watch-tower visible today, representing the oppressive nazi-system and the uncompromising way they dealt with their "enemies".

The well-known National Westerbork Memorial, symbolizing the terrible fate of the concentration camp victims.