Dutch Relic Lost Fire Destroys Anne Frank's Barrack

In the Netherlands an important relic from World War II ---the shed where Jewish diarist Anne Frank last worked as a slave laborer -- has burned down, most likely as a result of arson.

The place where famous World War II diarist Anne Frank worked has been destroyed. The shed from Dutch transit camp, Westerbork, where Frank was sent in 1944, burned down last Friday night, probably as a result of arson.

The barracks from Camp Westerbork burns in Veendam, the Netherlands.

The barracks from Camp Westerbork burns in Veendam, the Netherlands.

The current owner of the barracks, Jan Egges, said he has ruled out "all other possible causes for the fire". The shed, an original barrack from the camp that an estimated 100,000 Jews passed through on their way to Nazi extermination camps in Eastern Europe, was meant to be returned to Westerbork as a memorial to the girl who, through her posthumously published diary, became the voice and face of the Jewish genocide in the Netherlands and around the world.

When owner Egges reached the burning shack on Saturday morning, he noticed that the back of a tractor parked in it was on fire -- rather than the front end where the batteries and electronic parts are located. "There was nothing in the structure that could have caused a short-circuit, and there was no stroke of lightning," Egges said.

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This article has been provided courtesy of NRC Handelsblad. NRC Handelsblad and its companion Web site NRC.nl are two of the most respected brands in Dutch journalism.
The police have not made a statement about the fire and asbestos released in the fire has delayed their investigation.

The shack made headlines in Holland last month, when the Westerbork Holocaust Memorial Center announced that it would restore Barrack No. 57 and return it to its original location. Anne Frank and her sister Margot are known to have worked there, removing carbon from old batteries, in August and September 1944, before they were put on the last train from the Dutch transit camp to Auschwitz. Tragically the sisters died of typhoid and starvation in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in the spring of 1945, shortly before the Allies liberated the camp. They had been relocated to the camp from Auschwitz.

The Westerbork barrack was sold in 1957 and relocated to Veendam, where it served as a shack for tools. The memorial center had tried for years to recover the barrack, but the owner didn't want to return it until the Veendam municipality gave him a permit to build a new shack. In June, the plan to strip down the shed and rebuild it in the camp was finally announced.


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