Old photos of Camp Westerbork back at the memorial center: ‘Really special’

It may be a stroke of luck, but a very special one. Jappie Wiersma and his colleagues from thrift store De Fûgelpits from Dokkum found old photos of Camp Westerbork under construction while clearing out a house. Today he and his family brought the photos to the memorial center.

It is very busy in an office in the memorial center. Wiersma, family, journalists and employees of the memorial center have gathered around a table with the photo album on it. “I think this is the most special photo,” says Jappie, as he leafs through the book. “It is the home of the camp director and the building still exists.”

Wiersma is enthusiastic about the find and so is the memorial center. “The fact that he found the book is really very unique. In thirty years I have only experienced something like this a few times,” says Guido Abuys, curator of the center. “We already knew some of the photos, but there are many new copies. It’s great that he wants to donate it to us.”

Camp Westerbork was a refugee camp for Jewish people in 1939. A few years later it fell into the hands of the Germans during the Second World War and became a transit camp. There are almost no such photos of the construction of the refugee camp. “In this book we see the boiler house and, for example, the synagogue. The photos were taken from different perspectives, so you look at the construction of the camp in a completely different way.”