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by Hans Vanderwerff

I was honored when I received the invitation from the Max Ehrlich Association to add my thoughts to this Web site. It is not that I had personal knowledge about Max Ehrlich or those who were incarcerated at Camp Westerbork with him; but, as a teenager, I lived under the smoke of Durchgangslager Westerbork. My parents’ and my home was in Assen, about 15 kilometers from the camp.

None of us had any idea what went on inside Transit Camp Westerbork; neither were we aware of the fate of some 102,000 Dutch and German Jews or 250 Roma who went through Westerbork on their way to Nazi extermination camps in Poland. I only knew that my Jewish school friends Iwan, Jettie and their families one day had to report to the Nazi authorities and were never to be heard from again.

Only after the war was over and news concerning the slaughter started to reach us did we realize the magnitude of Hitler's diabolical plan.

                            

I was young when my country the Netherlands was invaded and conquered by Nazi troops, eleven years old. War broke out on May 10th 1940 and was lost within five days. Living in the Northeast of the Netherlands meant that we were occupied already on the very first day.

Some 60 years later one's memory for details begins to falter. Whether this is by design or by choice depends on the individual, I suppose. I do not remember too much of those years, except having lived in fear for most of the time. Fear for the well-being of my family… and in fear of the occupation forces.

Now, 55 years after the war, having myself written and published several pages on the Web about the Holocaust and how the Holocaust effected the Netherlands and the Dutch people, it is my immense pleasure to be contacted by survivors and descendants of survivors.

Of course I had heard about Mr. Max Ehrlich, the great entertainer… and about his involvement with the cabaret productions in Camp Westerbork. But, to have been contacted by the Max Ehrlich Association and to read about Mr. Max Ehrlich's life and ultimate death in Auschwitz/Birkenau has brought closure for me concerning yet another aspect in the horrible time known as the Holocaust.

Hans Vanderwerff
Webmaster of "The Holocaust, Least we Forget"

 

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                                 Last modified: January 5th 2012