Today I visited Camp Westerbork, where 700 people (including King Willem Alexander) had been reading out 102.000 names of victims of the Holocaust over the past few days. I witnessed the reading of the last names, by Bloeme Evers-Emden. Bloeme was 14 years old when the Second World War hit Amsterdam. She was forced to go into hiding from the Nazis and was subsequently arrested and deported to Auschwitz on the last transport leaving the Westerbork transit camp on 3 September 1944.
I did not realise – until I did further research – that she had known Anne Frank and her family. Jewish children were placed in separate schools, wherefore – in 1941 – Bloeme befriended Anne Frank and her sister, Margot at the Jewish Lyceum. Bloeme was in the same grade as Margot, but in a different class. I was shocked to read that her class kept shrinking from deportations throughout the year, to the point that only three students were left at the end of the year. By the time oral examinations were administered three weeks later, Bloeme was the only student in her class.
It is hard to believe that Bloeme, the women I met today, was on the same train to Auschwitz as Anne Frank and her family.