In August 1942, the former Hollandsche Schouwburg theatre in Amsterdam became a deportation centre for Jews. The Nazis called it ‘Umschlagplatz Plantage Middenlaan’. Jews went there voluntarily after receiving a call-up or were dropped off after a raid or arrest. They were then transported to Camp Westerbork. In all, tens of thousands of Jews were at some point imprisoned at the Hollandsche Schouwburg.
The Hollandsche Schouwburg was not big enough to accommodate the many Jews who had been arrested. Some stayed there for a longer period of time, so it quickly became overcrowded. The commotion and the stench were hard to bear. On 25 March 1943, Jewish Willy Alexander wrote in his diary:
'At the moment there are 1300 people in the small "Hollandse Schouwburg". It's so hot and stuffy (and dirty, of course) that everyone keeps asking for something to drink.'
The Hollandsche Schouwburg was closed at the end of 1943. By that time, Amsterdam was 'Judenfrei' - almost all Jews had been deported.