Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

Group portrait of Jewish prisoners wearing Star of David badges [probably at the Westerbork transit camp].

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 61170

Search this record's additional resources, such as finding aids, documents, or transcripts.

No results match this search term.
Check spelling and try again.

results are loading

0 results found for “keyward

    Group portrait of Jewish prisoners wearing Star of David badges [probably at the Westerbork transit camp].
    Group portrait of Jewish prisoners wearing Star of David badges [probably at the Westerbork transit camp].

This photo was given to Moniek Szeps in the Blechhammer labor camp by Dutch Jews who asked him to remember them if they perish.


    Group portrait of Jewish prisoners wearing Star of David badges [probably at the Westerbork transit camp].

    This photo was given to Moniek Szeps in the Blechhammer labor camp by Dutch Jews who asked him to remember them if they perish.
    Westerbork, [Drenthe] The Netherlands ?
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Moshe Sheps & Bat-Szewa Sheps Admoni
    Event History
    Westerbork was a transit camp for Jews who were being deported from the Netherlands during World War II to killing centers in Poland. The camp was initially established in October 1939 by the Dutch government to house Jewish refugees who had entered the country illegally. It was constructed on a tract of heath and marshland on the outskirts of the village of Westerbork in the province of Drenthe. Initially 50 barracks were erected to house 1800 refugees. When the Germans invaded Holland on May 10, 1940, 750 refugees were still living there. They were temporarily moved to Leeuwarden during the initial weeks of the occupation before being returned to Westerbork. On July 16 Captain Jacques Schol of the demobilized Dutch Army Reserves was appointed director of the camp. He organized the refugees into work groups and service branches and appointed Jewish internees to head them. Kurt Schlesinger was appointed chief of the service branches, Dr. Fritz Spanier, chief medical officer, and Arthur Pisk, head of the Ordnungsdienst, which evolved from being a fire brigade to an internal Jewish police force. Over time, refugees from other camps were moved into Westerbork, and by 1941 the camp had a population of 1,100. During the first two years of Nazi occupation the refugees were not yet treated as prisoners, and they could leave the camp if they obtained travel permits. However, on July 1, 1942, Westerbork came under the jurisdiction of the German SD (security police) and officially became a transit camp for Jews and Roma slated for deportation to Poland. The camp was headed by a series of commandants: SS Sturmbannfuehrer Erich Deppner (July-September 1942), SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Josef Hugo Dischner (September-October 1942) SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Albert Konrad Gemmeker (October 1942-April 1945). The systematic transfer to Westerbork of Jews from all parts of the Netherlands was launched on July 14, 1942, and deportations to Poland began the following day. The commandants left in the hands of the Jewish camp leadership the responsibility of compiling the lists of those to be deported. The leadership, however, was not allowed to include camp residents who had been given an official exemption. These included Jews of foreign nationality and, in particular, the veteran inmates, numbering 2,000, who had been given special status about two weeks before the deportations commenced. Thus Westerbork led a dual existence: inmates in the permanent camp remained in place for a long time, lived a relatively comfortable existence, enjoyed a wide range of cultural activities (including concerts, operas, and cabaret performances) and largely ran their own affairs, while the majority of prisoners remained only a week or two before being dispatched to Poland. An estimated 102,000 Jews and a few hundred Roma were processed through Westerbork. Roughly 55% were sent to Auschwitz, 35% to Sobibor, and 5% each to Theresienstadt and Bergen-Belsen. After the last transport had departed on September 13, 1944, approximately 600 Jews remained behind. Westerbork was liberated by the South Saskatchewan Regiment of the Canadian army on April 12, 1945.

    [Source: The Holocaust: Lest we Forget. "Refugee Camp Westerbork circa 1939." 23 April 2003. (16 September 2003); Gutman, Israel. "Encyclopedia of the Holocaust." MacMillan, 1990. pp.1645-8.]

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Moshe Sheps & Bat-Szewa Sheps Admoni
    Source Record ID: Collections: 1999.258

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Moniek Szeps (now Moshe Sheps) is the son of Abraham and Chava (Wohlhandler) Szeps. He was born January 6, 1923 in Dabrowa Gornicza, Poland, where his father was a cigarette manufacturer and his mother, a wigmaker. Moniek had two sisters: Fela (b. 1918) and Sabina (now Bat-Sheva Admoni, b. 1921). Moniek attended a cheder (a religious primary school for boys) and later, the Yavneh Hebrew elementary school in nearby Bedzin. At age eleven, he joined the Hashomer Hadati religious Zionist youth movement and participated in meetings and summer camps organized by the Mizrachi movement. He attended high school at the Fuerstenberg gymnasium, a private, co-educational Hebrew language school in Bedzin. Soon after the German invasion in September 1939, the Szeps family was forced to move to an area of town that was to become the ghetto. Moniek went to work at the local city hall and was given a special work permit that exempted him from resettlement. Going to work everyday outside the ghetto afforded him the opportunity to purchase tobacco for his father's cigarette making workshop and food items for the family. Moniek's sisters both found work at the Rosner factory, which produced military uniforms. On February 7, 1942 both girls were deported to the Gruenberg labor camp. There they worked for the Deutsche Wollwaren [German Woolens] company until April 1945. During their years in the camp they kept a diary, which they wrote on scraps of paper and kept in a cloth pouch. In the final months of the war Fela and Sabina were evacuated and put on a death march that led first to the Helmbrechts concentration camp and ultimately ended in Volary, Czechoslovakia. Fela died in Volary on May 9, 1945, a few days after their liberation. Sabina survived. Five months after the sisters were sent to the Gruenberg camp, the Dabrowa Gornicza ghetto was liquidated and Moniek's parents were deported to their death in Auschwitz. Moniek, who was 19 years old at the time, took it upon himself to send letters and food packages to his sisters in Gruenberg, despite regulations which forbade him to do so. In March 1943 while Moniek was preparing to escape from Dabrowa, he was arrested and interned in the Dulag, the transit camp located in neighboring Sosnowiec. From there he was sent to the Blechhammer labor camp. Subsequently, he was transferred to Bunzlau, a subcamp of Gross Rosen, where he was put to work for the Hubert Land Holzbau [wood construction] company. Moniek remained in Bunzlau until the camp was evacuated in February 1945. He was then taken to the Dora Mittelbau concentration camp. He was finally liberated in Bergen-Belsen on April 15, 1945. Throughout his imprisonment, Moniek kept a few family photographs concealed on his body. While he was convalescing from typhus in a British field hospital after the war, his friend, Motek Nussbaum, took care of his photographs. Moniek and Sabina were reunited at a displaced persons camp in Salzburg. Moniek later joined in the establishment of a kibbutz hachshara [Zionist collective] on an estate in Geringshof, Germany near Fulda. It was named Kibbutz Buchenwald, and there Moniek studied agriculture in preparation for immigration to Palestine. Subsequently Moniek, and his future wife, Zahava Zilberstein, boarded an illegal immigrant ship for Palestine. The ship was intercepted by the British and its passengers sent to detention camps in Cyprus. Eventually the Szeps reached Palestine. Sabina also immigrated to Palestine. She married Oskar Rotman (later Yehoshua Admoni) from Stanislawow.
    Record last modified:
    2004-07-02 00:00:00
    This page:

    Download & Licensing

    In-Person Research

    Contact Us