Hundreds of Limburg Jews were deported from former school
A plaque at the gate commemorates the deportation of hundreds of Limburg Jews from the old school during the Second World War. The school has now been rebuilt as a guest house for students.
They are standing in front of the new guest house at the Professor Pieter Willemsstraat, about 250 metres behind Maastricht’s central train station. Joe Edmondes, a first-year student of Arts and Culture from York, England, and Elvira Loibl, a master’s student of Forensics, Criminology and Law from Vienna, Austria, have just moved in. Loibl loves her new room: “It’s large and bright; it has three windows. I even have a television. That’s more than I had in my dorm in Austria. I share the bathroom and toilet with another student.” Edmondes, too, is happy in his new home. He says the new residents aren’t stuck in their rooms but instead get together in the communal kitchens.
Do the two new arrivals know anything about the history of this rebuilt school building? Not much: having arrived in Maastricht two and a half weeks ago, they missed the ceremony held on 24 August. That Friday the mayor of Maastricht, Onno Hoes, unveiled a plaque commemorating the hundreds of Limburg Jews who were deported from the school building to the Westerbork camp in 1942. This Dutch transit camp was the start of the line for a total of 93 trains destined for Auschwitz, Sobibor, Theresienstadt and Bergen-Belsen. Only eight of the deportees survived the Second World War. The plaque can be found at the gate of the school.
The guest house has 24 rooms with shared bathrooms and kitchens, and 59 studios with private bathroom and kitchen facilities. All have now been rented out. In total, there are 900 furnished guest house units in Maastricht.
“I don’t want to be a tourist in Maastricht”
Why did Joe Edmondes and Elvira Loibl choose Maastricht? “Mainly because the fees in the UK have gone up so much”, says Edmondes. “Now I’m paying about 1,700 euros, whereas in the UK I would have had to pay 9,000 pounds. And the course appeals me.” Loibl: “This master’s degree was only offered in Maastricht.”
Their first experiences in Maastricht and the Netherlands have been good. Edmondes: “The people are friendly and I think the quality of life here is higher compared to the UK.” Loibl agrees that the Dutch are friendly, “more than in Austria. We in Vienna are known to be very unfriendly”, she laughs.
She’s planning to learn Dutch. “It’s not so difficult for German native speakers. And besides that: it shows respect if you speak at least the basics of the language.” Edmondes, who would like to learn Dutch but doesn’t know if he will find the time to do so, agrees completely with his neighbour. “Otherwise you feel like a tourist in your own city.”