“They’ve taken all the children away”
The children transports from camp Vught
Until August 31, 2014
The Dutch Resistance Museum Amsterdam is currently showing a moving exhibition about the transports on June 6 and 7, 1943 of almost 1300 Jewish children from the Vught concentration camp to the Sobibor death camp. Stories of the children and testimonies of bystanders create a powerful picture of what happened during these chaotic days.
Part of the exhibition consists of a wall with the names of all 1269 deported children. 160 of these not only have a name, but a photo as well. The museum aims to collect and add more photos in the months to come. The exhibition They’ve taken all the children away is on show until August 31, 2014.
SS camp Konzentrationslager Herzogenbusch, also known as Camp Vught, was set up in January 1943. The drinking water was polluted and there were food shortages. Infectious disease was a serious problem, especially in the Jewish children’s barracks. In June 1943 all Jewish children younger than sixteen were deported without warning. They were told they were to be taken to a special camp for children somewhere close by. However the trains went first to Westerbork and then to Sobibor in Poland where all the children were gassed immediately upon arrival. Most left no trace, but some photos, letters, postcards or toys found their way to family and neighbours. These items help visualise the lives of these murdered children and give them a face again. Examples include:
On show in the exhibition is a letter from Judith’s elder sister Kitty on the children transports: “This is by far the worst blow that hit us so far. We have been through a lot here, but this is horrific. At first the children were to be sent all on their own. Now, with the grace of God, one of the parents is allowed to join.”
Betty and Daatje Frank
Betty and Daatje (or Ietje) Frank were the only Jewish children in the Dutch village of Ochten. Their father Sam filmed his growing daughters. Betty celebrated her eleventh birthday in camp Vught at the end of May. A few days later she was deported along with Daatje, aged seven, and their mother Marianne. The exhibition shows footage of the girls and a highchair they gave to their neighbour before leaving. On the back of the chair, in pencil, it says: ‘From Betty and Ietje Frank’.
Leo and Gientje de Leeuw
Leo and Grientje lived in Delden, in the eastern part of the Netherlands. They were deported to camp Vught in April 1943. Before leaving they had a farewell photo taken for family, neighbours and friends. Leo wrote the neighbours a postcard with his name underlined three times. This was an agreed-upon code: one line meant ‘we’re ok’, two ‘we can manage’, and three ‘we’re having a very hard time’. Leo was seventeen and thus too old for the children transports. His sister, aged thirteen, was deported. Four weeks later Leo was deported and murdered as well.
This exhibition was produced by the Camp Vught National Memorial and made possible thanks to Provincie Noord-Brabant, the vfonds, the VSBfonds, Levi Lassen Foundation and the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.