Westerbork, Netherlands


Westerbork (Drintsk: Börk) is a small village in the province of Drinte, which has been part of the municipality of Midden-Drinte since 1998. Before that it was an independent municipality.

Westerbork is also popularly spoken of when the former camp Westerbork is meant. Camp Westerbork was used during the Second World War to deport Jews, Roma and resistance fighters. However, the camp is closer to Hooghalen than to Westerbork.

After the Second World War, ex-KNIL soldiers were housed in the camp. The camp was then renamed Schattenberg. At the end of the 70s, that camp was demolished and a war memorial was erected near the location.

Partly on the grounds of the former camp there are fourteen radio telescopes, which together form the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope. The telescopes are managed by ASTRON. The well-known astronomer Jan Hendrik Oort played a major role in the creation of these telescopes.

Westerbork has a football association with more than 400 members. Vv VKW plays in the 2010/2011 season in the 3rd class B, on Sundays.



Closer to Hooghalen than to Westerbork is the former Camp Westerbork, from where more than 100,000 people were deported to extermination camps during the Second World War. Fourteen radio telescopes are located partly on the site of the former camp, which together form the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope.


Radio telescope

The Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope has been located near Westerbork since 1969, a radio interferometer consisting of fourteen 25 meter displaceable parabolic antennas for astronomical observations in the wavelength range from 3.6 to 110 cm. Of these radio telescopes, ten antennas are fixed, while two can be moved on rails at the eastern end of the array. 1.4 kilometers east of this is a second pair of moving bowls.



The Apple Museum Netherlands has been located in Westerbork since 2018. In this museum are Apple computers dating back to the year 1976. The computers are operational and may be operated by visitors.

The Museum of Paper Cutting presents national and international paper cutting art by well-known and lesser-known artists from 3 centuries.


Camp Westerbork

Camp Westerbork (German: Judendurchgangslager Westerbork) was a transit camp near Hooghalen in the former municipality of Westerbork in Drenthe during World War II. The camp was a gateway from which more than 102,000 Jews living in the Netherlands and 245 Roma were deported by train to concentration and extermination camps in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.

To arise
The camp was built by the Dutch government in 1939 as Central Refugee Camp Westerbork to receive Jewish refugees from Germany. More than two years after the start of the German occupation, on 1 July 1942, the Nazis took over the camp, after which Westerbork functioned as a transit camp. In taking over, the Nazis took advantage of the refugee camp's pre-existing camp structure.

Camp Westerbork came under direct Nazi administration on 1 July 1942. As Polizeiliches Durchgangslager Westerbork, it became a transit camp. From July 1 to September 1, 1942 Erich Deppner was Lagerkommandant. Then it became Josef Hugo Dischner until October 9, 1942 and Bohrmann a few days later. From October 12, 1942 to April 11, 1945, the SS man Albert Konrad Gemmeker was commander of the camp.

The former director of the refugee camp, the Dutch reserve captain Jacques Schol, remained active after 1 July 1942 until January 1943, subordinate to the German commanders. The German-Jewish refugee Kurt Schlesinger, appointed Oberdienstleiter by Schol in February 1942, continued to play an important role under the Nazis as leader of the camp organization, which consisted almost entirely of Jewish prisoners.

Deppner and his successors accepted a staff of German Jews, headed by Schlesinger. As a result, many important positions in the camp organization were held by German or Austrian Jews (the alte Lagerinsassen). They had privileges and functions in, among others, the Ordedienst (OD) and the Fliegende Kolonne (jointly led by the Austrian Jew Arthur Pisk). The number of German SS men for the entire camp was therefore 20 to 30 men. They were stationed in the nearby Hooghalen camp (heidelager).

Inbound transports
Inbound transports took place by train from various stations in the Netherlands. Jews had to report 'voluntarily' on special dates at assembly points, including the Hollandsche Schouwburg in Amsterdam and Loods 24 in Rotterdam. From there they were usually transported to stations at night and transported to Westerbork on reserved passenger trains of the Dutch Railways. Once there, everyone was registered in the main hall and registered in the population register of the municipality of Westerbork.

In the night of October 2 to 3, 1942, the Jewish labor camps that were spread throughout the Netherlands were emptied and the relatives were also taken to camp Westerbork. 10,000 people arrived in one day.

Living conditions
The vast majority of prisoners stayed in the camp for only a few days or weeks, a relatively small number stayed there for months or even years. After overcoming the initial shock of arrest and deportation to Drenthe, those who stayed in camp Westerbork for a longer period came to know the camp as a place where living conditions were relatively good. There were hardly any assaults and murders, families stayed together, and generally there was enough to eat. In addition, there were many facilities, including a shop, playground, schools, an excellent hospital and a theater where high-quality shows were staged.