Westerbork

For the Dutch, the name of Westerbork is inseparably linked to the horrors of World War II, as the Germans ran a large transit camp just a few kilometres out of the village centre. Technically, the former camp ground is located closer to Hooghalen than Westerbork, but the name is imprinted deeply in the national memory.

The village of Westerbork today is a pleasant place, offering plenty of facilities for visitors and popular as a base to explore the surroundings or as a stop on an long bike trip.

Understand

The national monument of Westerbork camp is a painfully simple reminder of the place's history.

Although severe violence and murder was relatively rare in the Westerbork camp, some 102.000 Jews and Roma were transported to their deaths from here. The original camp was taken down almost entirely, but a museum, several reconstructed buildings and a few monuments make former camp Westerbork a humbling place. Thousands of visitors come here every year to deepen their understanding of the war, educate their children or remember the tragic experience they or their loved ones lived through here.

The village of Westerbork itself is home to some 4700 people.

Get in

By car or bike

The village of Westerbork is served by the N374, which, via the N381 connects to the major A28 highway. There are numerous smaller roads suitable for those who want to cycle their way in and special direction signs for bikers are readily available, making it quite possible to find the way even without looking at a map.

By public transport

When you're using public transport, take a train to Beilen and change to bus line 22 from there. Train station Beilen is on the track from Zwolle to Groningen and is served by half-hourly trains.

To the camp

Note however that visitors of the Kamp Westerbork site in most cases shouldn't approach via Westerbork village. Coming from the South take exit 31 Westerbork in the direction of Beilen. After 300 meters, turn left onto N381 and follow the signs from there. Coming from the north take exit Assen-Zuid in direction Hooghalen and follow the signs from there.

Get around

Westerbork village is small and easily explore on foot or by bike.

The camp site and memorial centre is located some 10 km north of Westerbork and almost 2 km east of Hooghalen. Note that due to extensive radio telescope installations close to the former camp site, it's not allowed to drive all the way there with a car or other motorized vehicle. Fines will be given to those who ignore this restriction. You'll have to park at the memorial centre, which is located some 2.7km from the actual camp site, and walk the educational path to the camp. Wheelchairs are available for those who need them. You can't rent bicycles, but if you're here with your own, you may use it. Alternatively, when the memorial centre is opened, special buses run to and from the centre to the camp site (€1.50/2 for single/return).

See

A work of art at the former Appellplatz of the camp reminds of the 102.000 people who were sent to their deaths from here.

Do

Buy

The village has a useful range of small stores, allowing for most daily shopping. Most are in the village centre, around the B.G. van Weezelplein and Hoofdstraat. Of interest for average traveller are for example:

Eat

At the museum, there's a small café, which also serves a few simple lunch dishes. Think sandwiches or soups, or just a cup of coffee with a piece of cake. There's a peaceful outdoor terrace overlooking the nearby forest and garden.

There are also options to eat and drink around the village though, as well as in Hooghalen.

Sleep

Many people visit Westerbork as a day trip, but there are surely options if you'd like to hang around and explore the area.

Connect

The hotels offer free WiFi in their rooms.

Go next

There are many small and large destinations in the direct surroundings, making for good bike tour destinations, whether you're heading on or just want to have a good day trip. Visit the zoo in Emmen, go see ancient dolmen near Borger or stop in Assen for a visit of the Drenths Museum. Head west to the Drents-Friese Wold Natural Park, move north, to bustling Groningen or south-west to Zwolle. If you have your own car or don't mind a 3 hour bike trip, consider the amazingly restore fort of Bourtange on the German border.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 11, 2014. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.