Camp Westerbork

Impossible choice

The occupied Netherlands, 1943

It seemed such a clever thing to do: voluntarily enrolling in the service of the German occupiers to work at camp Westerbork – safeguarded against deportation.

He was not raised as a Jew. He does not feel Jewish. Being forced to live with only Jewish people in Westerbork changes his identity. Much to his own surprise. After all, he did not identify with being Jewish at all. The absurd situation forces new insights on him. He starts looking into the philosophy and views of Jewish thinkers and predecessors.

His job at camp Westerbork involves him in deporting others every day. Common people: men, women, and children; patients from a psychiatric ward; friends and acquaintances; family, and the girl he is in love with.

He cannot bare it. Anything but this executioner’s job. All he wants is one more week to write down his thoughts and feelings. Then he has himself deported.

Over 100,000 people were deported from Westerbork to destruction camps in Eastern Europe.

J.P. Presser, a historian, based his Night of the Girondists on his own experiences as well as on historical sources. The story poignantly illustrates how the Nazi regime presented people with dilemmas which were impossible to solve.


Jacques Presser




Trivia: Also published as 'Breaking Point'. Originally published as ‘boekenweekgeschenk’ 1957.


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Nicolas Crane



Rupelmonde, Leuven, Duisburg

Trivia: Illustrated with reproductions of paintings, maps, and globes.


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