Westerbork transit camp is liberated

April 12, 1945 Westerbork

On 12 April 1945, Canadian troops reached Westerbork transit camp. They were welcomed with cheers. The German camp leadership had fled the advancing Allied army the day before. There were 876 Jewish prisoners in the camp, but they were not free to leave yet. Because the war was not over, they had to stay on in the camp for their own safety. Some Jews left the camp in spite of the ban.

Two months earlier, Canadian forces near Nijmegen had attacked German forces in north-western Germany. In March, they crossed the Rhine into Germany. The Canadians then crossed the border back into the Netherlands to attack German troops in the central and northern Netherlands. At that point, the Germans were still fighting and firing V-1 and V-2 rockets that reached as far as Antwerp. In the four weeks that followed, most of the eastern part of the Netherlands was liberated. At the same time, other Allied armies were penetrating deeper into Germany.

On 24 April, Camp Westerbork was turned into an internment camp for members of the NSB and the SS, and for other collaborators.