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  • Writer's pictureGillis Kersting

Camp Westerbork revisited

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

Thirteen Holocaust-victims have been identified, thanks to the remastering of original footage from camp Westerbork. These images are colorised and sharpened so that they make visible the names and dates of birth written on the bags of camp prisoners. Unfortunates, who, as the footage continues, are loaded up onto the train, which will be heading to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The scene is an exception -being it a grim one- to the rest of the film. ‘Captured in images’ (Gevangen in Beelden) actually shows rather unexpected features of daily life in camp Westerbork. Captives are seen playing football, practicing gymnastics, working as dentists, playing music and even performing on stage in the camp theatre.

The footage was taken by Rudolf Breslauer, who himself, together with his family, was imprisoned in Westerbork. Most likely, he was ordered to do so by the camp commander Albert Gemmeker, for his personal recollections.

Gemmeker opted for a relative mild regime in Westerbork. One which would give its captives the illusion that no harm was to be done to them. Thus lulled into a false feeling of safety, Westerbork’s prisoners didn’t resist when they were put onto the trains to Bergen-Belsen, Theresienstadt and, more often, Auschwitz and Sobibor.

Between March 2nd 1943 and November 16th 1943 a train passed by every Tuesday, deporting thousands to an almost certain death. Of the 107.000 Jews, Roma and Sinti who were sent to extermination camps, only 5.000 survived to return home. Next to these victims, 62 fighters of the Dutch resistance were shot in camp Westerbork.


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