Camp Westerbork Remembrance Center opens its doors for free: ‘Meeting and knowledge against anti-Semitism’

Camp Westerbork Memorial Center opens its doors for free on Sunday, December 10, during the Jewish festival of lights Hanukkah. The Memorial Center says it is doing this because of ‘the increasing polarization and major upsurge of anti-Semitism in the Netherlands, which we have seen since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 and the war in Gaza’.

“We have seen for some time that there is little awareness of Judaism in the Netherlands and that knowledge about the Holocaust in our country is decreasing,” says director Bertien Minco. “We as the Camp Westerbork Remembrance Center want to do something about this. By organizing meetings and transferring knowledge, we can prevent the trivialization of the Holocaust. And thus help create a society in which there is no place for anti-Semitism.”

Free entrance

The Remembrance Center will open free of charge on Sunday, December 10, in the middle of the celebration of Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish festival of lights. The museum is free to visit that day, as is the accompanying program with accessible lectures and activities for young and old.

Minco: “We therefore reflect on the special story behind the photo that camp prisoner and photographer Rudolf Breslauer took in Westerbork camp in 1942 during Hanukkah. In that famous photo you see children in a barracks lighting the hanukkiah, the nine-armed candelabra used during the celebration.”

Light has an important symbolic meaning in Judaism. “It symbolizes both life and knowledge. Light brings about the end of darkness, the end of a period of ignorance.”

Knowledge and meeting

During the central part of the program, Irene Zwiep from the University of Amsterdam talks about the meaning of Hanukkah and Jelmer Holwerda from the Remembrance Center provides background to Breslauer’s photo.

There are also additional tours of the camp grounds and two guest speakers meet & greets with visitors their experiences. Micha Gelber talks about his time as a child imprisoned in Westerbork and Naomi Koster-Levie shares her family story. Her parents were stuck in Westerbork for a long time and also witnessed the liberation there.

Minco: “There is no better time than to open our doors for free during the Hanukkah period. In this way we hope to contribute to more knowledge through encounters; exactly what we as the Camp Westerbork Remembrance Center are for.”

The museum is open free of charge on Sunday, December 10 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guided tours of the camp grounds take place at 11:30 am and 12:30 pm. The meet & greets will take place in the museum from 1 p.m. The central part of the program takes place from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM in the main hall, concluding with the lighting of the Chanukah.