New footage found of WWII deportation camp Westerbork

Westerbork transit camp monument, Zwiggelte, Drenthe
The National Westerbork Memorial at the site of a transit camp where over 100,000 Jews, Roma, and Sinti were held before they were deported to concentration and extermination camps during World War II. Feb. 16, 2013photo: Mactrunk / DepositPhotos

An intensive search led to the discovery of a new copy of footage from Camp Westerbork, a transit camp from which over 101 thousand people were deported out of the Netherlands by train during World War Two. The footage is a rare piece of film to still in existence which shows the Nazi camps during the Second World War, the The Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD) announced.

The recently uncovered film print includes high quality footage of a transport of Jewish people by train, filmed on 19 May 1944, and a short fragment of the camp, nicknamed the Foyer of Hell. "In comparison with the known images, the newly found material is much more detailed and therefore more penetrating," NIOD said. "This also means that better research can be done with it and new insights may be obtained."

Camera-originele beelden 'Westerborkfilm' herontdekt

NIEUWS | Na een intensieve speurtocht zijn beelden van de ‘Westerborkfilm’, een van de zeldzame films van Nazi kampen, herontdekt. In vergelijking met het materiaal dat nu toegankelijk is voor publiek en onderzoekers is het gevonden materiaal veel gedetailleerder en daardoor indringender. Hierdoor kan er beter onderzoek mee gedaan worden en kunnen nieuwe inzichten worden verkregen. De directe aanleiding voor de zoektocht naar camera-origineel beelden was de toevoeging van de ‘Westerborkfilm’ aan het Unesco Memory of the World Register en de daaruit vloeiende verplichtingen de kennis hierover te vergroten. Het NIOD heeft daarop het initiatief genomen.
De reconstructie en restauratie van de ‘Westerborkfilm’ is een samenwerking van het NIOD Instituut voor Oorlogs-, Holocaust- en Genocidestudies, Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid, Herinneringscentrum Kamp Westerbork, Unesco Memory of the World Comité Nederland en het Joods Cultureel Kwartier.

Geplaatst door NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies op Maandag 20 januari 2020

The film was shot in 1944 by Rudolf Breslauer, who was ordered to shoot footage by Albert Konrad Gemmeker, the camp's commander, according to NIOD.  The footage was eventually confiscated, and after the war most of the material came into the hands of NIOD. It was later transferred to the Film Museum, and is now managed by the Netherlands Institute for Images and Sound under the name, "Westerbork Film".

It consists of around eight hours of footage.

Nearly all of those deported from the Netherlands were Jewish, and the camp's temporary population included Romani and Sinti people as well as Resistance fighters. Those deported were mainly sent to the concentration or extermination camps at Auschwitz and Sobibor.

Last summer, national railway service NS agreed to pay tens of millions of euros in damages to the families of Holocaust victims and survivors who were transported by train to and from Westerbork. The NS said it would also discuss the possibility of paying damage claims for the Dutch Resistance members who were collected and deported by rail.


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