SS Assumes Control of Westerbork Refugee Camp, Converting it to a Concentration Camp

Westerbork concentration camp (Dutch: Kamp Westerbork, German: Durchgangslager Westerbork) was a World War II concentration camp in Hooghalen, ten kilometers north of Westerbork, in the northeastern Netherlands.

Its function during the Second World War was to assemble Roma and Dutch Jews for transport to other Nazi concentration camps.

In 1939, the Dutch government erected a refugee camp, Centraal Vluchtelingenkamp Westerbork, in which people--mostly from Germany, but also from Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland, and mostly of Jewish faith--were housed after they had tried in vain to escape Nazi terror in their homeland. During World War II, the Nazis used the facilities and turned it into a deportation camp for Jews, about 400 Gypsies and, in the very end of the War, for some 400 women from the resistance movement.

Between July 1942 and September 1944, almost every Tuesday a cargo train left for the concentration camps Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sobibór, Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt. In the period from 1942 to 1945, a total of 107,000 people passed through the camp on a total of 93 outgoing trains. Only 5,200 of them survived, most of them in Theresienstadt or Bergen-Belsen, or liberated in Westerbork.

From 1942 to 1944 Westerbork served as a transit camp for Dutch Jews before they were deported to extermination camps in German-occupied Poland. In early 1942, the Germans enlarged the camp. In July 1942 the German Security Police, assisted by an SS company and Dutch military police, took control of Westerbork. Erich Deppner was appointed camp commandant and Westerbork's role as a transit camp for deportations to the east began, with deportation trains leaving every Tuesday. From July 1942 until September 3, 1944, the Germans deported 97,776 Jews from Westerbork: 54,930 to Auschwitz in 68 transports, 34,313 to Sobibor in 19 transports, 4,771 to the Theresienstadt ghetto in 7 transports, and 3,762 to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 9 transports. Most of those deported to Auschwitz and Sobibor were killed upon arrival.