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Westerbork - Victims Deported from the Netherlands
“A Name and a Face” – Research on Jewish Victims of the Holocaust from the Netherlands

By Mrs. José Martin
(Archival Department – A Name and a Face)

Background

Since 2000, Camp Westerbork Memorial Centre has been working on the "A Name and a Face" database, containing the names of as many victims as possible. By entering and combining data from transport lists, death certificates and numerous other sources, it became possible to reduce the error margins substantially, to draw up family trees and to make reconstructions. Many archives in the Netherlands and abroad have been consulted to this end. Thanks to the efforts of many volunteers and intensive collaboration with the Digital Jewish Monument, we have been able to add many victims to the list. We have also been able to remove many, as several sources from the first, chaotic post-War years tell us that some death certificates were falsely issued.

Who is included in this list?

At first sight this seems such an easy question to answer. It is not, however, as there are several options. The following description is used as the starting point for inclusion in this list:

Those who were taken from their homes and were deported to a camp or prison and perished or were murdered there or in another location.

This refers to the following people:

  • Those who were deported from camps in the Netherlands.
  • Dutch nationals who escaped the country but were arrested and deported from
  • camps in Belgium and France.
  • Individuals who were deported from prisons to concentration camps.
  • Those who died after their return (until the end of 1945).

The following are not included:

  • Suicides inside the home.
  • Those who died in hiding.
  • Dutch nationals who had lived officially in Belgium and France for decades and were deported from there.

For more information about the project and Kamp Westerbork, please see the website at https://www.kampwesterbork.nl/en/. Additional questions can be emailed to naamgezicht@kampwesterbork.nl.

Database

This database consists of 101,560 Westerbork victims deported from the Netherlands.

The fields in the database are:

  • Surname (See Note A below)
  • Given Name (See Note A below)
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth (See Note A below)
  • Date of Death (See Note B below)
  • Place of Death (See Note A below)

Note A - Challenges concerning victim and place names

Choices also had to be made concerning the writing format of names and places.

The given names are registered as they can be found in the official civil registry, i.e. registrations in the municipal register and on birth, marriage and death certificates. Although the name people went by is known in many cases, this does not apply to the majority. These names are therefore not included in the overview.

Another problem concerns the letters IJ and Y. Whereas today both letters are consistently distinguished, this is not the case for many of the victim’s names. The given names "Bettij" and "Betty" both appear and it is not clear which one was preferred. We chose the birth certificates as our starting point, because the father had to go to the municipality in person to register the birth. Surnames starting with a Y have not been included in the overview. After careful research these names have been converted to start with an IJ and included in the section for names starting with the letter I.

A basic list of birth places has been developed together with the Jewish Historical Museum in preparation for an extensive collaborative check of victim names. It turns out that Eastern European place names in particular are difficult to find on a map. National borders have shifted several times, causing place names to be spelled differently in different languages. If no papers were available at the moment of registration in the Netherlands, the registration depended on what the public servant heard, causing the same place of birth to be spelled in many different ways.

Whereas in the past the spellings ‘s-Gravenhage and ‘s-Hertogenbosch were often used, we have now chosen the modern spellings Den Haag and Den Bosch.

Note B - Challenges concerning the date of death

The dates of death were copied from the official death certificates issued by municipalities. This sounds simple but turned out to be rather complicated in practice. Large groups of victims, including German or other Jewish refugees, have no death certificates in the Netherlands. The same applies to a small group of Dutch nationals.

But even if there is a certificate, there is still room for error as municipalities did not use the same starting points for reporting the date of death. If no specific date could be indicated, municipalities chose a period during which the death possibly occurred. Many certificates show the date of deportation as the first date for this period. The second date was often a rough estimate, not just in terms of time but also of place. Many deaths, for example, were registered in Auschwitz at the end of 1945, which was months after the Russians liberated this camp. Another popular date is around the surrender of the German armies in 1945, somewhere in Europe.

So, we were faced with two dates of death, equating to a very rough estimate of a period in which death probably occurred. However, all overviews, either hard copy or digital, only allow one date. Many municipalities took the first date as the official date of death, thus the date of deportation which certainly was not the date of death. One municipality, however, took the last date on the certificate, a choice which only became visible once the certificates themselves were studied. This overview has chosen the last date on the death certificates where possible. Please bear in mind, however, that the exact date of death of many victims could not be determined after the War. Despite all the efforts made, the lack of sources and the often-difficult lines of communication with institutions, particularly in the Soviet Union, often meant that we had to be satisfied with an estimate. The Red Cross conducted most of this research in the years after the War, and recorded in detail how these choices were made. Eventually the last day of a period in which someone probably died was chosen, which was always the last day of a month.

Acknowledgements

JewishGen greatly appreciates the Kamp Westerbork organization for permitting us to add these records to the JewishGen Holocaust Database. The original source records came from the Oorlogsarchief Rode Kruis, NIOD, Stadsarchief Amsterdam, Stadsarchief Rotterdam, Drents Archief and Gemeente Midden-Drenthe, along with other local and regional archives. In addition, family and friends, researchers and so many others who made contributions to this database. The database was created by Mrs. Martin, a colleague and a team of ten volunteers. For additional information on this project and other questions related to Westerbork, please visit the website at https://www.kampwesterbork.nl/en/. Additional questions can be emailed to naamgezicht@kampwesterbork.nl.

We’d also like to thank Mike Kalt, HTML Volunteer, for placing this description online, and to Nolan Altman, Director of Special Projects and Coordinator of the Holocaust Database, for his continued devotion and dedication to JewishGen's important work.

November, 2021


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