Skip to Main Content

Holocaust History: Concentration Camps

This LibGuide is a starting point for general research on the concentration camps, with resources on genocide, survivor memoirs, and primary sources.

Brief History

Initially, Westerbork was a transit camp set up by the Dutch government in 1939 in the northeastern part of the Netherlands to house Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. German authorities assumed control of the camp in July 1942, installed their own commandant, and made Westerbork a transit camp for Jews to be sent east. At the beginning of that month, deportations began and occurred every Tuesday.

The Germans deported 97,776 Jews from Westerbork: 54,930 to Auschwitz in 68 transports, 34,313 to Sobibor in 19 transports, 4,771 to the Theresienstadt ghetto in 7 transports, and 3,762 to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 9 transports. Most of those deported to Auschwitz and Sobibor were murdered upon arrival. Among the many Jews who passed through Westerbork were the Otto Frank family and writer Etty Hillesum.

Within Westerbork there was also a small “permanent" camp population of 2,000 people involved in running the camp and tasked with trying to keep up the spirits of those awaiting deportation, but ultimately, almost all of them were also deported to the east

The Germans left Westerbork as the Allied troops approached. The Canadian Army liberated the camp and its remaining 876 prisoners on April 12, 1945.


The following summary derived information from the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust.

Sala and Aron Samueli Holocaust Memorial Library

Leatherby Libraries