Hooghalen – Westerbork (memorial)


Historical background

See: Hooghalen – Westerbork (camp)


Description of commemoration

In KL Westerbork there are two commemorations of the Roma and Sinti, although usually only one of them  – the memorial – comes to mind. And the memorial is a unique place indeed…

When we are heading toward the former camp, we pass poles which symbolise subsequent transports of prisoners from Westerbork. Each of the poles bears the following information: the date, destination, and the number of people in a given transport. Then there are the symbolic sarcophagi with information about the destinations of transports from the Netherlands, including the number of victims, e.g. Bergen-Belsen – 3,751 of which at least 1,700 were murdered.

Westerbork features two memorials related to the deportation of Dutch prisoners, one of which commemorates the deportation of all groups of prisoners, with particular emphasis on Jews. The other memorial is a development of the previous thread – it commemorates each of the deportations, but in greater detail, paying more attention to the details.

The memorial called “102,000 Stones” – – is a conceptual masterpiece. Each of the transports that departed from the Dutch camp was depicted on the former camp assembly square, including accurate documentation. Thus, the main memorial is divided into “sectors”  which correspond to each of the rail transports. Because it is known exactly how many people were deported in individual trains – the memorial symbolises each of these people – using a ceramic cube in the colour of brick. The cubes that symbolise Jewish prisoners are marked with a brass Star of David. The cubes that symbolise Gypsy prisoners are marked with a flame. Only one transport, included not only Jews but also Gypsies – the train sent to KL Auschwitz-Birkenau on 19 May 1944. At that time, 245 Roma were on the train, including a 9-year-old Gypsy girl, Anna-Maria “Settela” Steinbach.

Settela is the most famous Gypsy child who went to KL Auschwitz-Birkenau, thanks to a documentary film that records the transport in which the girl travels. Her characteristic face and head covered with a handkerchief peeks out of an opened railway car door, in the car marked “74 pers.” On the one hand she became an icon of the history of the Roma Extermination, on the other hand, she is the heroine of perhaps the most-frequently presented documentary on the deportation, preserved in the original form from the year1944 (Westerbork, Auschwitz, Yad Vashem, Washington etc.).

The other mode of commemoration – a domain which is much less exploited – is the sound. The Museum of Westerbork Memorial Site is the place where the names of people imprisoned in the camp and deported to death are read again and again, without interruption, day and night. For this purpose the author of the architectural and museum concept chose a freight car as a symbol of deportation. Speakers are mounted under the wagon, from which the names of all deported persons are pronounced in alphabetical order.


Date of the unveiling

June 16, 1992



Westerbork Camp – Sterrenwacht, 9433 Zwiggelte, The Netherlands, (Voormalig Kamp Westerbork)




  1. The ”102.000 Stones” Memorial

52°54’58.5″N 6°36’30.6″E


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  1. The railway car with names of prisoners

52°55’00.6″N 6°36’23.4″E


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Materials – 8’06’’ – Settela Steinbach

Herinneringscentrum Kamp Westerbork:

Information about the  Westerbork camp and memorial:

Pflock, Andreas: Am anderen Ende der Rampe von Auschwitz – Polizeiliches Durchgangslager Westerbork, in: Ders.: Auf vergessenen Spuren. Ein Wegweiser zu Gedenkstätten in den Niederlanden, Belgien und Luxemburg Bonn 2006.

Schwarz, Fred: Züge auf falschem Gleis, Wien 1998.

Wagenaar, Aad: Settela. Het meisje heeft haar naam terug, Hilversum 2007.



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