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  1. sniper1946

    sniper1946 Expert

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    The Westerbork camp was situated in the northeastern part of the Netherlands in the Dutch province of Drenthe, near the towns of Westerbork and Assen.
    The Dutch government established a camp at Westerbork in October 1939 to intern Jewish refugees who had entered the Netherlands illegally.
    The camp continued to function after the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940.
    In 1941 it had a population of 1,100 Jewish refugees, mostly from Germany.
    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.
    The Westerbork camp had a "double life." While most inmates stayed in the camp for only short periods of time before being deported, there was also a "permanent" camp population of 2,000 people, mostly German Jews, Jewish council members, camp employees, and certain other categories of persons exempt from deportation.
    The Germans encouraged "normal" activities by this group, including metalwork, health services work, and cultural activities.
    A Jewish police unit kept order and assisted with the transports.
    In the end, however, most of the "permanent" inmates were also sent to the concentration camps and death camps.
    In early April 1945, as Allied troops approached the camp, the Germans abandoned Westerbork.
    Westerbork was liberated on April 12, 1945, by Canadian forces who found 876 inmates there.

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  2. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

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    Westerbork Liberation

    The Holocaust: Lest We Forget - Westerbork liberation - "The Ted Sheppard story!"

    and here 2nd Canadian Division

    "After wintering in defensive positions in the Netherlands, the Canadians fought through the Reichswald forest toward the Rhine. They crossed the river on March 28 and spearheaded the drive of British and other Commonwealth troops toward the North Sea. While clearing the eastern Netherlands of German forces, they liberated the Westerbork transit camp, which was situated in the northeastern Dutch province of Drenthe, near the towns of Westerbork and Assen.

    With some of the funding originating from Jewish sources, the Dutch government had established a camp at Westerbork in October 1939 to house refugees, most of whom were Jewish, who had sought refuge in the Netherlands. Some of these refugees, of whom there were 400 when the Germans invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, had entered the country illegally. After the Germans conquered the Netherlands in May 1940, the Dutch authorities continued to manage the camp. In 1941, some 1,100 Jewish refugees, most of them from Germany, resided in the camp. On July 15, 1942, German authorities took over the Westerbork camp, which at this time had approximately 1500 prisoners. After July 15, 1942, Westerbork served as a transit camp for Dutch Jews before their deportation to the killing centers in Auschwitz and Sobibor and to several concentration camps. Ninety-eight trains transported approximately 100,131 Dutch Jews to Auschwitz, Sobibor, Mauthausen, Bergen-Belsen, and Theresienstadt between July 1942 and September 1944.

    As Allied troops approached the camp, the Germans abandoned Westerbork. When members of the Canadian 2nd Division reached Westerbork on April 12, 1945, they found between 876 and 909 inmates there, of whom the majority were Dutch Jews. In addition to the tens of thousands of deportees whom the Germans murdered on their arrival from the Westerbork transit camp between 1942 and 1944, around 750 Jews perished inside the facility during the five years of German occupation.
    Following the liberation of Westerbork, the Canadian 2nd Division continued its advance into northern Germany. It captured the German city of Oldenburg on May 3 and was stationed there when the Germans surrendered on May, 1945."

    After watching Schindler's List with my father, I learned that he had seen a concentration camp during or just after its liberation. He was in the 2nd Division, and the 3LAA (his unit) and of course the HQ of the 2RCA to whom he was assigned from Sept 44 to Spring 45 were in the locations mentioned above. I'm quite certain that Westerbork was the place to which he referred.
     

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