Friday, 15 September 2017

Westerbork Transit Camp

A rather grim, but important reminder of the bloody history in Europe not so long ago is Westerbork Transit Camp, in Drenthe, Netherlands.  We went there.  There's an interesting and very informative museum with many stories and artefacts of the camp's inhabitants.  Unfortunately most of the written history is in Dutch and I was surprised how little I could understand - my school German, with some top-ups over the years isn't too bad but Dutch seems to have different roots so I was floundering a bit.

Originally, the camp at Westerbork had been erected by the Dutch as a refugee camp for the many thousands of Jews streaming across the border with Germany in the 1930s.  Interestingly, in 1938 The Netherlands closed their border with Germany due to the increase in refugees after Kristallnacht.  In 1939 Westerbork was built to house the refugees (although the Committee for Jewish Refugees had been required to underwrite the camp's expenses).  Anyway, when Germany invaded, the function of the camp changed to become a transportation centre to Auchwitz-Birkenau (over 60,000), Sobibor (over 34,000) and Bergen-Belsen.  Only a handful survived.  Anne Frank and her family were among the families transported in one of the very last trains to leave the camp.

It wasn't a place that I really felt like taking many photographs but I did like this piece of sculpture which I snapped up as I passed.  Printed out on Slavich paper, lith developer and some sepia tone.  It's a bit over-done, but perhaps that's appropriate given the subject:

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