David Koker

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David Koker
David Koker

(1921-11-27)27 November 1921
Died23 February 1945(1945-02-23) (aged 23)
He wrote a diary during his stay in Camp Vught[1]

The Jewish student David Koker (27 November 1921 - 23 February 1945)[2][3] lived with his family in Amsterdam until he was captured on the night of 11 February 1943 and transported to camp Vught.

David was forced to halt his studies in Philosophy and History in September 1941 when the university ceased allowing Jews to study anymore. The family did not go into hiding because they had received an exemption and believed they were safe. Still, in 1943, they were captured and transported to Camp Vught on 11 February. David spent some of his time teaching children at the camp. In July, he received a “Sperre” (temporary exemption from deportation) from Frits Philips and joined his “Philips Commandos”. In June 1944, the "Philips-Jews" were transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau from where they would be sent to other camps to work for electronic companies.

David's mother and brother Max survived the war. David, however, fell ill and died during a transport for ill people to the concentration camp in Dachau due in part to his illness as well as hypothermia in February 1945. His father died of exhaustion in LangenBilau, a subcamp of Groß-Rosen.

Koker had published in 1941 Modern-Hebreeuwse poëzie. The booklet (87 pages) was a bilingual edition of Modern Hebrew Poetry with translations in Dutch. Cotranslator was J. Melkman, pseudonym of Jozeph Michman (1914-2009). Publisher was Joachimsthal in Amsterdam.

The Diary[edit]

During his internment, he wrote a diary which was smuggled out of the camp, pieces at a time. The diary is maintained complete, starting on 11 February 1943 and ending on 8 February 1944. In addition to standard entries, David also used the diary to write poetry.

On 2 June 1944, while the family was being transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, David managed to throw a letter from the train, an excerpt of which read:

Netherlands: Lieve vrinden, we zijn nu dicht bij de grens. Het is wel teleurstellend, maar we waren erop voorbereid en zijn vol vertrouwen. Ik denk veel aan jullie. (...) Ik heb alle brieven en foto's bij me. M'n liefste bezit. Wanneer zien we elkaar weer? Dat zal nu wel lang duren. Maar erdoor komen we. (...) Heel veel liefs jongens, bedankt voor alles. Tot ziens.

United Kingdom: 'Dear friends, we are close to the border now. It is very disappointing, but we were prepared for it and remain hopeful. I think a lot about you. (...) I've got all your letters and photos with me. My dearest possessions. When will we see each other again? That will take a long time. But we shall survive. (...) Lots of love guys, thanks for everything. Goodbye.

The diary was published in 1977 with the name Dagboek geschreven in Vught (Diary Written in Vught). The editor was Koker's best friend Karel van het Reve, a professor of Slavic languages and literature, who during the war collected and kept the smuggled diary pieces.[1][4] The manuscript was stored at the Dutch Institute for War Documentation (NIOD). It has been translated into English and was published in 2012 under the title At the Edge of the Abyss: A Concentration Camp Diary, 1943-1944.[5][6] Koker's Diary was in 2012 finalist for the Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Diary of David Koker". Nmkampvught.nl. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
  2. ^ "The Philips-Kommando in Camp Vught about David Koker". Retrieved 2013-02-14.
  3. ^ "David Koker". Joodsmonument.nl. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
  4. ^ "Van Oorschot publisher". Vanoorschot.nl. 2011-09-01. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
  5. ^ "At the Edge of the Abyss: A Concentration Camp Diary, 1943-1944 amazone.com". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
  6. ^ Jordan Michael Smith (28 March 2012). "Life Inside the Camps". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  7. ^ Website Jewish Book Council Archived 2014-05-05 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  • Koker, David, Dagboek geschreven in Vught - 2e dr. - Amsterdam: Van Oorschot, 1977