The Dutch government established a camp at Westerbork in October 1939 to intern Jewish refugees who had entered the Netherlands illegally. The camp continued to function after the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940. In 1941 it had a population of 1,100 Jewish refugees, mostly from Germany.
From 1942 to 1944 Westerbork served as a transit camp for Dutch Jews before they were deported to extermination camps in German-occupied Poland. In early 1942, the Germans enlarged the camp. In July 1942 the German Security Police, assisted by an SS company and Dutch military police, took control of Westerbork. Erich Deppner was appointed camp commandant and Westerbork's role as a transit camp for deportations to the east began, with deportation trains leaving every Tuesday. From July 1942 until September 3, 1944, the Germans deported 97,776 Jews from Westerbork: 54,930 to Auschwitz in 68 transports, 34,313 to Sobibor in 19 transports, 4,771 to the Theresienstadt ghetto in 7 transports, and 3,762 to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 9 transports. Most of those deported to Auschwitz and Sobibor were killed upon arrival.
The Westerbork camp had a 'double life.' While most inmates stayed in the camp for only short periods of time before being deported, there was also a 'permanent' camp population of 2,000 people, mostly German Jews, Jewish council members, camp employees, and certain other categories of persons exempt from deportation. The Germans encouraged 'normal' activities by this group, including metalwork, health services work, and cultural activities. A Jewish police unit kept order and assisted with the transports. In the end, however, most of the 'permanent' inmates were also sent to the concentration camps and death camps.
In early April 1945, as Allied troops approached the camp, the Germans abandoned Westerbork. Westerbork was liberated on April 12, 1945, by Canadian forces who found 876 inmates there.References:
Czocha Castle is located on the Lake Leśnia, what is now the Polish part of Upper Lusatia. Czocha castle was built on gneiss rock, and its oldest part is the keep, to which housing structures were later added.
Czocha Castle began as a stronghold, on the Czech-Lusatian border. Its construction was ordered by Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, in the middle of the 13th century (1241–1247). In 1253 castle was handed over to Konrad von Wallhausen, Bishop of Meissen. In 1319 the complex became part of the dukedom of Henry I of Jawor, and after his death, it was taken over by another Silesian prince, Bolko II the Small, and his wife Agnieszka. Origin of the stone castle dates back to 1329.
In the mid-14th century, Czocha Castle was annexed by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Then, between 1389 and 1453, it belonged to the noble families of von Dohn and von Kluks. Reinforced, the complex was besieged by the Hussites in the early 15th century, who captured it in 1427, and remained in the castle for unknown time (see Hussite Wars). In 1453, the castle was purchased by the family of von Nostitz, who owned it for 250 years, making several changes through remodelling projects in 1525 and 1611. Czocha's walls were strengthened and reinforced, which thwarted a Swedish siege of the complex during the Thirty Years War. In 1703, the castle was purchased by Jan Hartwig von Uechtritz, influential courtier of Augustus II the Strong. On August 17, 1793, the whole complex burned in a fire.
In 1909, Czocha was bought by a cigar manufacturer from Dresden, Ernst Gutschow, who ordered major remodelling, carried out by Berlin architect Bodo Ebhardt, based on a 1703 painting of the castle. Gutschow, who was close to the Russian Imperial Court and hosted several White emigres in Czocha, lived in the castle until March 1945. Upon leaving, he packed up the most valuable possessions and moved them out.
After World War II, the castle was ransacked several times, both by soldiers of the Red Army, and Polish thieves, who came to the so-called Recovered Territories from central and eastern part of the country. Pieces of furniture and other goods were stolen, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the castle was home to refugees from Greece. In 1952, Czocha was taken over by the Polish Army. Used as a military vacation resort, it was erased from official maps. The castle has been open to the public since September 1996 as a hotel and conference centre. The complex was featured in several movies and television series. Recently, the castle has been used as the setting of the College of Wizardry, a live action role-playing game (LARP) that takes place in their own universe and can be compared to Harry Potter.