When the persecution of Jews in the Netherlands began in 1942, the occupying forces used the refugee camp near Westerbork in the east as a transit camp, without modifications. The Westerbork camp was established and paid for by the Dutch-Jewish community in the 1930s to house the increasing number of Jewish refugees from Germany.
In two years, more than 100,000 Jews were deported from this camp, also known as the “Dutch gateway to hell”.
Because a well-functioning camp organization was already present, the surveillance did not require brutal sadists, as was the case in other camps. Camp commander Albert Konrad Gemmeker only had a dozen SS men at his disposal.
The Order Service (OD), composed of Jews, was responsible for the necessary order and peace within the camp. Due to the constant pressure to still be deported, the OD men carried out their assignments promptly inside and sometimes also outside the camp.
That is why other camp residents also referred to them as the Jewish SS.
The outdoor surveillance was carried out by the Dutch Gendarmerie* (Military Police). These mostly young police officers, who were tasked with this service for only a few months each time. They were not allowed to have any contact with the Jews and did not enter the camp.
In this book, extensive attention was paid to the OD men and their background because, in particular, they made the system of divide and conquer work well.
Because of these Jewish guards, the Nazis were able to keep the well-oiled deportation machine running at full speed.