While concentration camps and ghettos were the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, other types of camps existed in the occupied countries which were part of the machinery of the Third Reich and took on the complexion of its antisemitic and racial policies.Transit camps existed as way stations on the road to major concentration camps or extermination centers. Prisoners were detained briefly prior to deportation to such places as Auschwitz, Sobibor, or Dachau. Transit camps were overcrowded, and sanitary and health facilities often dismal. While the major concentration camps were under the control of the SS, transit camps were often run by police in regimes collaborating with the Nazis. Drancy, for example, located in the Paris suburbs, became an internment center for Jews in the summer of 1941. Transports to Auschwitz commenced in June 1942. Nearly 65,000 Jews were deported, fully 1/3 of them French citizens, the rest foreign-born Jews who had moved to France.
Westerbork was a transit camp in the Netherlands, and Jews interned here—including Anne Frank and her family, and Etty Hillesum-were eventually deported in successive waves to the major extermination camps: Sobibor, Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen. Almost 100,000 Jews lost their lives passing through Westerbork. Another camp in occupied Netherlands was Vught or s'Hertogenbosch. Vught was an official SS concentration camp as well as a transit camp. One section held Jewish prisoners before they were transferred to Westerbork, and from there to extermination camps. In June 1943, hundreds of Jewish children were sent to the Sobibor extermination camp.
--Michael D. Bulmash, K1966
Browse the Bulmash Family Holocaust Collection.
Postcards sent from Berlin to Westerbork Transit Camp in Holland Following the Return of the MS St. Louis
a: Postcard postmarked 18.2.41 with German text printed in red and handwritten letter on opposite side. Address written in pencil. Markings on front in blue and red pencil.
b: Postcard postmarked 21.3.41 with German text printed in red as well as handwritten text in purple ink and letter written in pencil on opposite side.
c: Postcard postmarked 25.3.41 with German text printed in red and handwritten letter on opposite side.
d: Postcard postmarked 12.4.41 with German text printed in red and handwritten letter on opposite side.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Margarete and Hans-Heinrich Glucksmann had been passengers aboard the ship MS St. Louis in 1939 (“Voyage of the Damned”). The St. Louis and its Jewish passengers fleeing Nazi Germany were refused entry to Cuba and subsequently the United States and was forced to return to Europe. These four postcards (2020.1.4a-d) by Margaret in Berlin to Hans-Heinrich following the return of the St. Louis Holland. She signs her name with the obligatory “Sara”. At the time of writing, Hans-Heinrich was being held in the Westerbork transit camp in Hooglhalen in the Netherlands. The postcards bear German censor marks and stamps.
[Items relating to Margarete and Hans-Heinrich Glucksmann: 2020.1.5, 2020.1.6]
White envelope and letter handwritten in blue ink.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Partial translation: "Just a word in a hurry to inform you that all the Jewish people of Rouen have been arrested in the night from Friday to Saturday. Men, women and children have all been taken away and they came to Drancy Saturday morning. I think that "the Tigress" [an unknown individual] is among them. Deportations to the East are envisaged. Try to send news of yourself to Camille because you are the only person who connects him to the civilized people. I am not sure, but there is a great probability that Holstein would be among the prisoners, seeing as Levy Risle and his whole family have been arrested a preceding night..."
Front: White postcard with printed green postcard lines, typewritten addresses, and a black hand stamp.Back: Words both typewritten and in pencil.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: A postal card from a Jewish family (Levy) postmarked 10 December, 1942, thanking the addressee for the package they sent.
French Internment Camp Drancy Rare Postcard from H. Barouh in Paris to Leon Barouh in Drancy Internment Camp
Postcard marked "CARTE POSTALE" in red print in top center, red stamp of man in top right corner, purple stamped in left corner, print in red, writing in blue on front and back.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Postcard with double ring cachet as arrival on French postcard with Petain stamp. Mr. Leon Barouh was born in Varna, Bulgaria in 1902. His permanent place of residence was in France. He was married to Judith Bensignor and they had two children, Sam and Jacques. Mr. Barouh was deported from Drancy on December 17, 1943, one of 848 men, women, and children on Convoy 63 to Auschwitz, where he perished.
Front: Tan postcard with green printed postcard lines and stamp. Includes writing in black ink and black hand stamps.Back: Message written in black ink.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Postcard from Westerbork, a transit camp in the Netherlands from which Jews were typically deported to death camps such as Auschwitz. Among the many prisoners who passed through this camp were Anne Frank and Etty Hillesum, both diarists who were eventually deported to Auschwitz.
Off-white envelope with purple Bureau de la Censure in upper lefthand corner and black writing. Includes a pasted stamp of a man in profile facing left. Sent locally within Paris from the Drancy Internment Camp.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Cover sent locally within Paris, franked 1.50f violet triple ring cachet "CAMP D'INTERNMENT DE DRANCY."
Postcard dated 8/23/1943 with writing in green ink.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Mr. Zirker was born March 6, 1890 in Tirschtiegel, Poland. He was known as a manufacturer or merchant, with intentions to marry an office clerk, Clara van der Kaars. However, before the wedding could take place, Mr. Zirker was deported to Westerbork, and placed in Barak 41. Westerbork was initially a refugee camp established by the Dutch government or German and Austrian Jews fleeing Nazipersecution. However, German SS took control of the camp in 1943. This postcard to dr. Hurwitz in Brussels was written 8-30-1943, and censored with a chemical censor and hand stamped by the Commando unit of the Wehrmacht. Deported to Bergen Belsen, Mr. Zirker perished February 9, 1944.
a: Westerbork, voucher for 10 cents from February 15, 1944, CC series.
b: Westerbork, voucher for 24 cents from February 15, 1944, CC series.
c: Westerbork, voucher for 50 cents from February 15, 1944, CC series.
Westerbork, voucher for 100 cents from February 15, 1944, CC series.The 100 cent voucher has a partial watermark from the factory where it was printed: “Vuga NORMAAL”
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: The Commandant’s name “Gemmeker” appears on these vouchers along with a logo that was his idea: an image of the camp with a cog surrounding a warehouse chimney from which smoke emanates, perhaps a Westerbork nod to Aushcwitz’s “Arbeit macht frei”, suggesting the importance of Jewish work to the Reich. Working all day would enable the Jewish prisoners to purchase small items at the canteen: coffee, razor blades, etc.
Stamped and handwritten lettersheet to Amsterdam
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:
Westerbork, located in Drenthe Province in the Netherlands, began in 1939 as a camp for German refugees attempting to escape persecution in Nazi Germany. The first refugees arrived in October of that year. Some had been passengers on the ill-fated SS St. Louis (please see 20201.4a-d and 2016.1.15) Westerbork continued to function as a refugee camp supervised by the Dutch after the German occupation in May 1940 since all Dutch Jews were concentrated in Amsterdam. Administration of the camp was transferred to the Germans in 1942 at which time it functioned as a transit camp for Jews awaiting deportation to the extermination camps, Auschwitz or Sobibor.
While Westerbork functioned as a transit center for Jews prior to deportation, there would also be a longer-term population of mostly German Jews to create some stability in the camp. They would act as camp employees or Jewish council members and would not for the time being subject to deportation.
Mr. Weinberg was one of the German refugees-from Emden, Hanover, Germany- at Westerbork. He was born on January 21, 1900 and he notes his barracks number as 40 b. He thanks Mr. Polack for packages received. He would be deported, and his date of death is given by Yad Vashem as February 28, 1945. The fate of Mr. Polack is unknown.
Tan paper with printed black text and a purple circular hand stamp in upper lefthand corner.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Unused food package card with violet triple ring cachet "CAMP D'INTERNMENT DE DRANCY." Drancy was a high-rise apartment complex in the northeast suburb of Paris in the 1930’s before the Nazis confiscated it and utilized it a an internment camp to hold Jews and other “undesirables” who were later deported to the extermination camps. 65,000 Jews were deported from Drancy, of whom 63,000 were murdered including 6,000 children. The Vichy government under Petain and Laval cooperated with Nazi Germany, hunting down foreign and French Jews and turning them over to the Gestapo for transport to the Third Reich's extermination camps. Drancy was under the control of the French police until 1943 when administration was taken over by SS and officer Alois Brunner. With his arrival came the need to increase deportations to Auschwitz. Drancy at its peak held more than 7,000 prisoners. The brutality of the French guards in Drancy and the harsh conditions imposed on the inmates is well known. For example, upon their arrival, small children were immediately separated from their parents for deportation to the death camps. The On 6 April 1944, SS First Lieutenant Klaus Barbie raided a children's home in Izieu, France, where Jewish children had been hidden. Barbie arrested everyone present, all 44 children and 7 adult staff members. The next day, the Gestapo transported the arrestees to Drancy. From there, all the children and staff were deported to Auschwitz. None of them survived.
Front: A black and white photograph of high-rise apartments with white text in French.Back: Black printed postcard lines.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Drancy was a 1930's high-rise apartment complex in the northeast suburb of Paris before the Nazis confiscated it and utilized it as an internment camp to hold Jews and other 'undesirables' who were later deported to the extermination camps. 65,000 Jews were deported from Drancy, of whom 63,000 were murdered, including 6,000 children. The Vichy government under Petain and Laval cooperated with Nazi Germany, hunting down foreign and French Jews and turning them over to the Gestapo for transport to the Third Reich's extermination centers.
Envelope with title, "Kriegsgafanyenpost" with address and message written in pencil.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Frontstalag 111, Drancy France. Censored lettercard sent by Jewish POW to his wife in Frontslag 142 Besancon. Drancy was French concentration camp with direct line to Auschwitz.