Last month we had our very first weekend getaway hosted by my in-laws with our entire tribe which saw us heading northeast to Drenthe.
By ‘entire’ and ‘tribe’, I mean every single one of us within our immediate family circle:both of Silver Bullet’s parents, us four and along with Silver Bullet’s brother plus his girlfriend.
Just like my own immediate family, our tribe is small and cosy. I think it’s great! Especially so with our kids being truly blessed to still have both sets of healthy grandparents to spoil them.
Drenthe is about a 2-hour drive from where we live. It is known for its agriculture and unlike many other parts of Holland, it is rural and sparsely populated. Here’s an interesting fact: It ranked 9th in terms of being a large province but with no known rivers or lakes.
We were there 3 years ago and I remember it as a quaint little village all packed with its own unique charm. I also remember that during our stay (at a different place altogether), we had driven to Emmen (a 20-minute drive from Drenthe) and had a walkabout there.
This time, we came to a different zoo that was reopened earlier this year at another location.It was renamed Wildlands Adventure Zoo Emmen as they had closed down the former Dierenpark Emmen due to financial difficulties. This new zoo was not as exciting and overall, a big disappointment despite some interesting exhibits. Perhaps they just need a little time to pick itself up to being an awesome place once again.
Just a few days in Drenthe did not give us much room for more exploration but having discovered that Kamp Westerbork was located a mere 10 minutes away from where we stayed, we just had to get our asses there (without kids!) before we head home.
Visiting Westerbork Transit Camp was a sombre visit. During World War II, Kamp Westerbork was used as a refugee, detention and transit camp that assembled Romani and Dutch Jews before being transported to other Nazi concentration camps.
Some original buildings – potato bunker, hidden SS bunker and a new water treatment plant had remained standing, but most had vanished and very little of it had left. It was refurbished as a monument to symbolically represent history, with a primary purpose of honouring it as a historic site for education.
It was ironic that this camp was erected by Dutch government and financed by Dutch Jews themselves to house those fleeing from Nazi Germany only to end up as a macabre stop-over before their final destination to face death.
As I walked around, I was consumed by it all. Each monument tells a story…or held stories untold.
That track caught me hard. Each element is symbolic of what happened during that war…of dismay, of despair (curled up rails), of bewilderment, of an extent of destruction (railway sleepers). A spot where railroad from Hooghalen to this camp terminated…that one train that came to a standstill in front of a buffer.
Another end: a wall of boulders from surrounding areas have been stuck together with strong binding materials resembling skulls.
Then, there are these 102,000 Stones arranged uniformly within a map of Holland:
They were most spine-chilling; amongst hundred of thousands who got deported, 102,000 did not return. They represent how many people were murdered and to emphasise individual people: 102,000 times a mother, a father, a son , a daughter, a brother, a sister…
There is a Star of David to represent Dutch Jews on top of each stone, 213 of them have a flame on top to represent Gypsies and 100 have no symbol to represent the resistance fighters imprisoned here before being deported and murdered. References extracted from Kampwesterbork NL and Wikipedia
I can’t help but wonder how just one person could single-handedly create such chaos WITH millions of human race supporting him and his crazy cause. How could anyone get so much power? Where is humanity?
Such a dark history of humankind; it gives me lots of shudders. Haunting.
We left Westerbork feeling sunken…and drained. It felt like my entire energy was sucked out good. And as we continued on with our way, my thoughts lingered on to current warfares which really, isn’t dissimilar if you think about it. Scariest thing is, I’m afraid this insanity for power and supremacy will continue to undermine humanity of a so-called modern world.