While I was in The Netherlands I asked if it would be possible for me to go to Westerbork Camp to take photographs. Gerrit very kindly obliged and what I'm posting here is the result. I ought to fill you all in a little on what happened there almost seventy years ago.
From 1942 to 1944 Westerbork was a holding camp for Jews and gypsys and other undesirables who were rounded up in The Netherlands before being shipped off to the east. It is hidden deep in a forest and I'm sure most of the locals didn't even know it was there until well after the war. During this time almost 100,000 people left Westerbork on the regular Tuesday train bound for places like Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sobibor, Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt; very few ever returned.
It is now a very eerie place. It is beautifully maintained and cared for and there are fitting reminders of what happened there and the scale of those things. In my experience, having been there a couple of times, you don't hear birds singing at Westerbork, the surrounding forest seems almost stagnant. I'm not going to harp on about this, I'll let the photos speak for me.
Each one of these terracotta blocks represents a real person who passed through Westerbork. The different heights of the blocks represent the ages of the people; The tiny blocks are children and the tall blocks are elderly people.
Remember, each block represents a real person.
Each one a real person
This is the Dutch national monument to the holocaust and its victims. Very poignantly, it is a section of the original railway track, now with a buffer at one end and the rails pulled up at the other, symbolising that no traffic will ever go along those rails again in either direction.
This fence stands to mark out the prison within a prison where people who were considered criminals were kept fenced off from the rest of the camp. Anne Frank and her family were kept here before being shipped to the east on the last but one train to leave Westerbork.
This is a concrete mock-up of part of the wooden building that stood in this compound.
Finally, I took this photo in the forest on the 2km, or so, long walk back to the car park. I think it is one of the most beautiful (and yet stark) images I have ever taken, and quite fitting in the circumstances.
Thanks for looking and listening. I am grateful to you all.