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The barbed wire fence at Kamp Westerbork, stands in stark contrast to the beauty of the Lupins in the background.

Kamp Westerbork in the Netherlands, was built in 1939 by the Dutch government as a refugee camp, due to the large influx of Jewish refugees leaving Germany to escape the Nazi regime.   This influx of Jewish people had been happening since about 1933 but increased in pace around 1938.

When the Germans invaded the Netherlands, they turned Kamp Westerbork into a deportation camp. There were approximately 101,000 Dutch Jews, and about 5000 German Jews were deported to their deaths in various Nazi concentration (death) camps in Germany and occupied Poland. Additionally there were about 400 Gypsies and 400 women from the Dutch resistance movement that were deported to the same camps.

From 1942 to 1944 there were about 107,000 people that passed through Kamp Westerbork on a total of 93 outgoing trains. Only 5200 of them survived.

One of the memorials to the 102,000 that had stayed at Westerbork and died in a Nazi concentration camp, consists of the same number of individual stones, most with a Star of David on the top. There are some that have other symbols on them and they are the members of the Dutch resistance and the Gypsies.  The various heights of the stones represent men, women and children.  They are laid out in a pattern resembling the country of the Netherlands, with the number of stones representing the people from each province.

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Memorial stones, representing the 102,000 men women and children that were sent to their deaths in the Nazi concentration camps from Kamp Westerbork.

On a personal note, I and my parents, siblings and our spouses visited Kamp Westerbork in 2013.  It is located about 25kms from where my father grew up. He also had an Aunt and Uncle living near the camp, in the town of Westerbork.  Our visit there was very humbling and sobering.  Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to the families of each person that left Kamp Westerbork, never to return.

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