In the lion’s den

Vanas, Adrian

Subverting the Nazis from within Westerbork Transit Camp 1942–1945.

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For three years, from 1942 to 1945, Adrian Vanas, with his wife Bertha and their small children, lived in the Nazi-controlled transit camp for Dutch and German refugee Jews, Camp Westerbork, as the government-appointed supervisor for food distribution. His detailed account of the lives in the camp, and the tragic deportation of over 100,000 Jews, 80% of Dutch Jewry, sent unknowingly to their deaths in Poland, echoes in the mind long after finishing his story.

Despite being under constant Nazi surveillance and at the risk of their lives, Adrian and Bertha joined the Dutch Resistance and saved as many lives as they could, helping inmates hide, escape the camp, or survive somehow. Yad Vashem has acknowledged them both as being amongst the Righteous Among the Nations.

Adrian’s extremely moving story of courage, love and sorrow, deeply humane and also affirmative, will forever remain one of the important testimonies of the Holocaust and of the almost total disappearance of the Dutch Jewish community.