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Herzogenbusch concentration camp: Wikis

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Coordinates: 51°39′48″N 5°15′28″E / 51.66333°N 5.25778°E / 51.66333; 5.25778

A view along the fences of the camp, 1945

Herzogenbusch concentration camp (Dutch: Kamp Vught, German: Konzentrationslager Herzogenbusch) was a Nazi concentration camp located in Vught near the city of 's-Hertogenbosch, in the Netherlands. Herzogenbusch was the only concentration camps in western Europe outside of Germany. The camp was first used in 1943 and held 31,000 prisoners. 749 prisoners died in the camp, and the others were transferred to other camps shortly before the camp was liberated by the Allied Forces in 1944. After the war the camp was used as a prison for Germans. Now there is a visitors center with exhibitions and a national monument remembering the camp and its victims.

Contents

History

Beds in the baracks of the camp
Washing area for the prisoners

During the World War II, Germany occupied the Netherlands (1940–1945). The Nazis transported Jewish and other prisoners from the Netherlands via the transit camps Amersfoort and Westerbork to concentration camps such as Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. When Amersfoort and Westerbork appeared to be too small to handle the large amount of prisoners, the Schutzstaffel decided to build a concentration camp in Vught near the larger city 's-Hertogenbosch.[1]

The building of the camp Herzogenbusch, the German name for 's-Hertogenbosch, started in 1942.[2] The camp was modeled after the concentration camps in Germany.[1] The first prisoners, that arrived in 1943, had to finish building the camp.[2] The camp was used from January 1943 until September 1944. During this period, the camp held nearly 31,000 prisoners: Jews, political prisoners, resistance fighters, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, homeless people, black market traders, criminals and hostages.[2]

Due to hunger, sickness and abuse at least 749 children, women and men died in the concentration camp. 329 of them were executed at the execution site, just outside the camp.[2] When allied forces were approaching Herzogenbusch, the camp was evacuated and the prisoners were transferred to concentration camps further to the east. When the camp was liberated in September 1944, by the 4th Canadian Armored Division and the 96th Battery of the 5th Anti-Tank Division, the camp was almost deserted.

In the first years after the war, the camp was used for the detention of Germans, Dutch SS-men, (suspected)collaborators and/or their children, and war criminals.[3] At first, they were guarded by allied soldiers, but shortly after by the Dutch. As a parliamentary enquiry (the Committee A.M. Baron Tuyll van Serooskerken) showed in 1950, this resulted in maltreatment and even summary executions.

Commanders

Watchtowers and barbed wire fences in the camp
The crematorium in the camp
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Karl Chmielewski

The first commander was 39 year old Karl Chmielewski. During the first few months, the camp was poorly run: prisoners didn't receive meals, the sick were barely treated and the quality of drinking water was very low. Subsequently, many died during Chmielewski’s reign. He was sacked in 1943 for stealing from the camp on a large scale. In 1961, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the concentration camps.

Adam Grünewald

The second commander was 40 year old Adam Grünewald. Immediately after assuming command over the camp, he set very strict rules. On January 1944, he ordered that a group of female prisoners was to be put into one cell. This resulted in what has become known as the "Bunker Tragedy". Due to the disliking of his superiors that this tragedy leaked to the press, he was brought before an SS-judge and sent to the Russian front as a common soldier. In 1945, he was killed in battle.[4]

Hans Hüttig

The last commander of Herzogenbusch was 50 year old Hans Hüttig. He fought during the first world war and was already a member of the Nazi party in 1933. The SS leadership was satisfied with his performance. Under his leadership, at least 329 men were executed.

Current state

The national monument
Room for reflection

The execution site near the camp is now a national monument, with a wall bearing the names of all those who died there. The wall has suffered numerous acts of vandalism: Swastikas were drawn on the wall, using tar, which seeped into the stone itself and made it impossible to clean them.[5]

The camp itself was partially demolished after the war. The grounds now house an educational museum about the camp (known in Dutch as Nationaal Monument Kamp Vught),[6] a Dutch military base called Van Brederodekazerne, a neighbourhood of maluku refugees, and a high security prison called Nieuw Vossenveld. Still, parts of the old camp remain.[7] Central to the prison, the Bunker Tragedy bunker still stands, and large parts of the southern camp buildings are now used by the Dutch military, including the former SS-Barracks shaped like a German cross (not to be mistaken for a swastika).

See also

References

External links


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