Not far from where I live, about 10 minutes drive to be exact is the transit Camp Westerbork. This was used as a stopping point by the Germans before they sent the Jewish prisoners to the different concentration camps. As a matter of fact, Anne Frank was even sent here before being taken to Auschwitz where she ultimately died. I pass the Camp Westerbork memorial center and camp grounds once and a while and I get the same feeling every time, almost a heavy weight in the air. I have not stopped there before, I am waiting for the right time to go inside and see the memorial and the 102,000 stone stars that represent those who left the camp and were murdered.
Today as I was driving in Westerbork, I decided to stop and take in the beautiful landscape. It is fall here and the brilliant colors of the trees are absolutely stunning. I parked my car and took in the woods that surround the center. It was stunning. It is very quiet there, the area is mostly farmland and other than the surrounding residents there is not really anything else. There were people sitting at the picnic tables enjoying a quiet snack, there were tour buses with visitors coming to see the museum, and then there were the trees…So many trees in so many beautiful colors.
I could feel the importance of the ground I was standing on, and it brought up so many questions. How could this have happened? How was it that people let one man take over? Why were so many killed without thought? It hung in the air there, it felt heavy on my heart and soul, and this was just in the parking lot! I know that in order to go inside I need to prepare myself mentally, as I can only imagine the feeling will be stronger when I actually see the memorials.
So for now, I take in the scenery and appreciate the freedom I, and many others have in this day and age. It really is a beautiful piece of countryside and a place that should be on everyone’s travel list. We should certainly not forget what happened so that we can prevent it from happening again.
You can find out more about Camp Westerbork here on the official website.