Netherlands Camp Amersfoort Nazi Camp Now a Museum #holocaust #announcements
Jan Meisels Allen
Courtesy of Jewish Virtual Library
a photograph of how the Camp looks today
Source: Gerardus at Wikimedia Commons
From 1941 to 1945 45,000 prisoners held at Camp Amersfoort under the command of the Nazi SS. Records show that at least 850 of the prisoners were Jewish, though the museum says the actual number is probably much higher. For the German administration, Amersfoort was a Police Camp (Polizeiliches Durchgangslager Amersfoort).The Jewish prisoners were eventually deported to Westerbrook, a transit camp located in northeastern Netherlands. Jews were later sent from Westerbrook to concentration or extermination camps in Poland.
Amersfoort is one of three concentration camps operated by the Nazis in the Netherlands. The other two were Vught and Westerbrook.
In 1941, eight hundred and twenty Jews lived in the city of Amersfoort. The municipality at first resisted anti-Jewish measures, but could not prevent the removal of Jews from Amersfoort's economic and cultural life. By 22 April 1943 most of the Jewish population in camp Amersfoort was transferred to concentration camp Vught, one of the other Nazi camps in the Netherlands. From there they were deported to Poland for extermination. After that date the camp took on the identity of a notorious concentration camp. See:
From Wikipedia: Edith and Rosa Stein, two ethnic Jewish Catholics arrested by the SS, described what it was like arriving at Amersfoort at 3:00 in the morning on August 3, 1942:
When the vans reached the camp, they emptied their passengers who were taken over by the S.S. guards. These began to drive them, cursing and swearing, beating them on their backs with their truncheons, into a hut where they were to pass the night without having had a meal.
The hut was divided into two sections, one for men, one for women. It was separated from the main lager by a barbed-wire fence. Altogether, the lager held at that moment, about three hundred men, women and children.
The beds were iron frames arranged in a double tier, without mattresses of any kind. Our prisoners threw themselves on the bare springs trying to snatch a few minutes sleep; but few slept that night, if only because the guards kept switching the lights off and on, from time to time, as a precaution against attempts to escape, which was next to impossible in any case. Their cold harsh voices filled the prisoners with anxiety about the future and, in these circumstances, it is anxiety which can turn a prison into a hell on earth.
Note: Edith and Rosa Stein were the aunts of my nephew-in-law. Edith Stein born into an observant Jewish family, converted to Catholicism and became a Discalced Carmelite nun. She is canonized as a martyr and saint of the Catholic Church, and she is one of six co-patron saints of Europe.
A museum was built on the site of the concentration camp which was inaugurated on April 19 –the 76th anniversary that the camp was liberated and turned over to the Red Cross. Camp Amserfoort is on the border of Leusden and Amersfoort.
The redesigned site and the new 1,110 square meter underground museum include a permanent and a changing exhibition. Visitors at the museum get to know the story of Camp Amersfoort told through biographies and a photography exhibit. Touch screens allow visitors to look up former prisoners and read more about their stories.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte inaugurated the museum
After the pandemic restrictions are loosened visitors will be welcomed at the Museum.
To read more see:
Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee