Former Camp Westerbork
Westerbork is one of the darkest chapters in the history of our country. Between 1942 and 1945 it was used as a deportation-camp for 107.000 Jews, Sinti and some people from the resistance. Not many people know it was intended to be a refugee camp to start with. It was built in 1939 and financed by the Jewish community itself.
During World War II the camp was taken over by the management of the SS. 93 Trains departed from Westerbork to extermination camps. First the Jews would be taken out of their homes by the Dutch police and some NSB-members. These were called the round-ups. The first twenty-five trains stopped at the station of Hooghalen, often in the middle of the night. Men, women, children and babies had to walk for over two hours through the cold to the camp, along the road where our farm is located. At the end of 1942 the railway was extended to the camp. It went straight through the camp making it not just the place of arrival but also the place of departure.
On a small note in the synagogue in Pekela, located in Groningen, rabbi Abraham Toncman wrote “We’re being taking away as cattle to be killed and perish“. On July 15th the first transit departed to Eastern-Europe. After that a train departed that every Tuesday. People in the camp were living in stress from Tuesday till’ Tuesday with the increasing tension while the day was getting closer. The amount for the transit were decided in Berlin. The Endlösung had started: the Jews were to be exterminated.
Reminder and warning
Westerbork is, in the first place, a place of remembering for over a hundred-thousand innocent Jewish victims. But it’s also a symbol for a warning. If Jesus would have lived on Earth in the period of 1942 and 1945, He would have been taken away along this road. A confronting thought.
How could the extermination of over 6 million Jews have taken place in so called ‘Christian’ countries? The sad message is that ancient Christian anti-Semitic teachings helped Hitler to accomplish his plans. Today there’s still an ear-deafening silent in our churches when Gods heart for His nation is being mentioned. A silent often caused by ignorance. God has a bond with Israel, and not with the church. And the non-Jewish believers may be part and co-heir of it all, grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root (Romans 11:17).