Thursday, August 11, 2011

Vucht - A German Extermination Camp

On a quiet afternoon at JoVo Camp, when the young people had gone to the swimming pool, the senior couples drove over to Vught - a small town where the Germans built a Jewish extermination camp during World War II.  I didn't realize there were extermination camps in Holland - I learned that there were several here.

These are the uniforms that the Jewish prisoners were forced to wear while at the camp.

Elder Beckstrand studies some of the documents on display in which the German officers were ordered to establish the camps in this country by their superior officers in the SS. 

Sister Van Komen stands in front of a miniature facsimile of the original layout of the camp.  There were rows and rows of baracks in which the Jews were housed.  The children were kept in a separate area from their parents.  Any child over the age of 2 was taken into the children's baracks.  The older children were required to watch the younger children.

Guard towers surrounded the compound to ensure that no prisoner could escape.

The baracks were long, one story buildings in which the prisoners ate and slept.

Washing facilities both for the prisoners and their clothing.

The tables and benches would have been used at mealtimes, but the food was extremely poor and very scarce.  Most of the prisoners were little more than sketetons.

I am standing at the entrance to one of the sleeping rooms.  Rows and rows of  triple layer bunkbeds were used by the Jewish prisoners.  The mattresses were filled with straw which soon became full of ticks and other vermin.

I can't imagine that anyone slept much in a place like this.  The men and the women were separated, but privacy and any degree of comfort would be non-existent. 

A picture of the outside of one of the baracks.

The next building we visited was the Crematorium.  It was in the very center of the compound.
Prisoners were  taken here when they died of disease or malnutrition and were cremated to avoid the necessity of being buried.

The crematorium was large enough to house other grim purposes.

The prisoners were forced to sit on these wooden benches, awaiting their turn for whatever the Germans had in store for them that day.  Some of the rooms were for experimenting and surgical procedures.  These signs were on the doors.   The Laboratorium would be a place where scientists conducted their experiments.  The word "Snijkamer" literally translates to 'Cutting room".

Elder Beckstrand is standing by one of the furnaces that cremated the bodies.  There were several in the building.

This wheeled cart was used for disposal of the bodies.

Another furnace.

This place had an evil, dark feeling about it.  It was obvious that terrible things had taken place here.  It is unfathomable to me that human beings could do such despicable things to other human beings.

Over 1800 children up to age 16 were incarcerated here.  When they became so disease-ridden that they were causing too much trouble for their German captors they were loaded onto a train and sent to Germany to be exterminated.  If one parent wanted to go with them, they were allowed to go.  No one realized that they were going to their deaths. 

There were several metal columns listing the children's names and ages.  Many of them were infants under a year old. 

This headstone explains in Dutch about the children being sent to Germany.  Their parents were told that they were being sent into Germany for better medical facilities so that they could get well.  The truth was, of course, completely the opposite.

Inside the museum was a wall with actual photos of some of the children. 

Writings from the journals of some of the prisoners were displayed next to the children's photos.

I couldn't imagine hurting beautiful children like these.  I wouldn't want to trade places with the men who did these vile acts when judgment day arrives.

Another journal entry.  They knew they were going into Germany, but they had no idea of the awful finality of their trip.

I can't say this is a place I would want to visit again, but it was a very touching experience to be here. 
I sincerely hope that Hitler pays for his crimes throughout eternity.

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