New special exhibition

“Names, not Numbers – Dutch political prisoners in Dachau concentration camp”

On April 27, 2018, the new special exhibition “Names, not Numbers – Dutch political prisoners in Dachau concentration camp” opened in the special exhibition room of Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. Dr. Gabriele Hammermann, Director of Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, and Peter Vermeij, Consul General of the Netherlands, welcomed the numerous guests who attended. A very special word of welcome went out to the former Dutch prisoner among them, Ernst Sillem.

Ernst Sillem, Dachau survivor
Dachau survivor Ernst Sillem at the opening ceremony for the special exhibition

At the end of August 1942, Ernst Sillem tried to get to England in a canoe with his friend, Jaap van Mesdag, in order to join the Dutch Army in Exile. The two friends ran into trouble on the open sea and were discovered by a German ship. After the imprisonment that followed, they passed through several concentration camps, until they were finally transferred to Dachau concentration camp in September 1944. When being transported between the concentration camps, Ernst Sillem was able to let letters fall unnoticed, which reached his family with the help of Dutch citizens. These little signs of life and many other objects from former Dutch political prisoners can be seen in the new special exhibition.

Special exhibition Names, not Numbers

The biographies of the former prisoners were researched by Dutch schoolchildren as part of the “Memory Book for the Prisoners of Dachau Concentration Camp” project. The young biographers share their own personal experiences with “their” prisoners at audio listening stations.

The special exhibition, which was first shown at the Resistance Museum in Amsterdam in 2015, will be on exhibit at Dachau Memorial Site until February 28, 2019.

Photos: © Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site