The Westerbork camp was situated in the northeastern part of the Netherlands in the Dutch province of Drenthe, near the towns of Westerbork and Assen. The Dutch government established a camp at Westerbork in October 1939 to intern Jewish refugees who had entered the Netherlands illegally. The camp continued to function after the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940. In 1941 it had a population of 1,100 Jewish refugees, mostly from Germany.
From 1942 to 1944 Westerbork served as a transit camp for Dutch Jews before they were deported to killing centers in German-occupied Poland. In early April 1945, as Allied troops approached the camp, the Germans abandoned Westerbork. Westerbork was liberated on April 12, 1945, by Canadian forces who found 876 inmates there.