Westerbork films

Documentary heritage submitted by Netherlands and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2017.

During spring 1944 Jewish deportee Rudolf Breslauer documented the everyday life in the Westerbork transit camp on film, commissioned by the German camp commander Albert Gemmeker. Gemmeker ment to produce a professional film for Public Relations, possibly to show the economic value of the camp.The Westerbork Film was never completed, but much of the raw footage is preserved. Breslauer documented the Tuesday train transports to other concentration camps, though most images picture ‘moments of normalcy’, healthy men and women working in workshops, playing sports, children at school, or scenes at the hospital, cabaret and even a church service. Since 1948 fragments of the film have been widely used in documentaries, films or newsreels. Footage of the transports, especially the scene of the Dutch Sinti girl Settela Steinbach who looks at us from behind the doors of a boxcar, became iconic f or the systematic extermination programme of the Nazis.

Back to top