Keeping up appearances

Camp Westerbork
3 oktober – 2 november 1942

There was a theater group and a soccer club. Not that you felt like doing it, but everything was a desperate attempt to remain longer in the Netherlands.

The German camp administration wanted to prevent the prisoners in Westerbork from suspecting anything about their approaching fate. That was why life in the transit camp had to be as normal as possible, and prisoners had to be distracted in all sorts of ways. Courses were given, people played sports, and prisoners had the opportunity to organize their own cabaret shows and concerts. People could even go shopping in the Lagerwarenhaus (LaWa) [camp department store], and special Westerbork money had to be used to pay. This money could also be used in the Lagerkantine [camp cafeteria].  Here one could buy fiches, pickles, custard powder, and lemonade. In an exchange office people could exchange their last “regular” money for the special camp bills. “Regular” money was forbidden in the camp, and the opportunity to exchange regular currency turned out to be an easy way for the Nazis to appropriate money.