• History and facts about


    650 people murdered
Remember the victims of Amersfoort

Amersfoort was a transit camp, whence prisoners were sent to places like Buchenwald, Mauthausen and Neuengamme concentration camps.[4] It was on July 15, 1942, that the Germans began deporting Dutch Jews from Amersfoort, Vught and Westerbork to concentration camps and death camps such as Auschwitz, Sobibor and Theresienstadt.

"Rose garden (named after the barbed wire)"

"For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing".

Simon Wiesenthal
Copyright: USHMM, Bundesarchiv, Camps, Arolsen Archives and others (used with permission)

History and facts about Amersfoort

The history of the camp can be separated into two periods. The first period began on August 18, 1941, and ended in March 1943. In March 1943 all but eight of the surviving first prisoners in Amersfoort were transferred to Kamp Vught. The prisoner transfer to Vught allowed for the completion of an expansion of Kamp Amersfoort. Maintaining the camp, despite Kamp Vught becoming operational in January 1943, still appeared necessary to the Nazis. Following the invasion of the USSR in June 1941, the camp held Soviet prisoners of war . These included 101 Uzbek prisoners brought to display to the Dutch for propaganda purposes, all either dying in the winter of 1941 or executed in woods near the camp in April 1942. 865 Soviet prisoners are buried in nearby Rusthof cemetery.

The Camp was tightly organized. When the prisoners entered the camp, they were registered. They no longer had a name, but were given a number and the mark that they had to wear on their clothing, so that it was clear to which group they belonged according to the camp leadership. From that moment on, the number was the title of address for the prisoners. Everyone was given a soldier's shirt, soldier's underpants, soldier's trousers, a pair of foot flaps, a tunic and in winter an overcoat and leg wraps, and they walked in clogs. All this clothing consisted of old soldier uniforms and the size was not considered. The uniforms were worn by several prisoners one after the other and they were not washed in between. It often happened that the blood or dirt of the previous prisoners was still in the clothing.

In the Polizeiliches Durchgangslager Amersfoort (PDA) , the roll calls were the most notorious. The prisoners had to line up in rows at the sandy roll call site. Then the aiming started, which meant that the rows had to be exactly straight. The guards took their time for this. Then all kinds of German commandos followed such as: Hats, hats off, heads on the left, heads on the right. Punishment exercises were also part of the daily routine. That meant that prisoners had to lie down in the mud and do squats.

During the roll-calls, the prisoners who had "misbehaved" during the day were punished even more. In the context of discipline, physical violence was a regular part of the regime in the camp. There was no system for the torture, it was based purely on the arbitrariness of the camp management. Since no one had to be accountable to the outside for what happened in the camp, the leadership could go ahead. A common punishment in the PDA was the Am Tor Stehen. Das Tor was the inner gate between the security and prison sections of the PDA. Initially it was a simple barbed wire fence. In the second period of the camp it became a stone inner gate with a guard house. Next to the inner gate was an area of ​​3 by 50 meters, which was demarcated with a double row of barbed wire. This was called the rose garden and was used as a place of punishment. People had to stand here for hours, sometimes days. Standing still and nothing else. In any weather condition. Other punishments included withholding food or beating with a cane. Those caning were administered in front of other prisoners. More severely punished people ended up in the bunker. This was a concrete barrack with cells. A prisoner was chained with hands and feet to iron chains.

In addition to the torture and violence, hard work was another means the camp leaders used to instill in the prisoners the required discipline. The prisoners were divided into work commands. In the first period of the Camp, the activities of these commandos were dominated by the expansion of the Camp. Groups of prisoners occupied themselves with the barbed wire fence, fetching wood, cooking, peeling potatoes, etc. In a "favorable" command, prisoners were less hunted and mistreated. Many prisoners tried to squeeze themselves and "organize" something edible out of sheer survival. The Jewish prisoners were generally assigned to the heavy commands. With every slip or suspected slip, the prisoner could count on a beating. All work commandos together fell under the leadership of the Arbeitsdienstführer, a Camp SS officer. Each work command had its own leadership and they were the Vormänner. These were themselves prisoners in charge of a group of workers.

A firing range was constructed outside the PDA, across the road. A long straight trench was dug at the foot of the Amersfoortse Berg. The sand was initially used for the construction of the stone barracks (second half of 1942).

Not only was the work very hard in the first period of the camp; it was also a camp with bad food for the prisoners. The PDA was a hunger camp from August 1941 to March 1943. The prisoners received a quarter of a sandwich a day, a small piece of margarine, a tiny piece of cheese and sometimes some jam. Very occasionally they got a piece of sausage. Lunch consisted of about half a liter of poor quality cabbage soup. These meals gave the prisoners about 1300 to 1400 calories, while a normal adult needs about 2500 calories. The lack of food and hard labor caused the prisoners to lose weight, reduce resistance, numbness and depression. Hunger led to many food thefts. People stole from the kitchen, but certainly also from each other. Hungry, the prisoners became thieves, fighters and attempted to escape. As a result of poor hygiene and food, many inmates suffered from starvation edemas, infections, poorly healing wounds, dysentery and general debility. At the end of January 1942, thirty percent of the prisoners had starvation edema. The camp management made no attempt to improve the situation in the camp.

Notable inmates

  • Jan Herder

  • Henri Pieck

  • Titus Brandsma

Original video footage

Copyright of this video: Geschiedenis TV
Real eyewitness testimonies
Gerard van de Beld - Amersfoort survivor
English Transcription

"A warm thank you to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for their willingness to help in allowing their testimonies to be featured on my website.

Camp nickname:

Rose garden (named after the barbed wire)
The camp specifications
Location: Amersfoort, The Netherlands

Date of operation:
18 August 1941 - 18 April 1945
Number of prisoners:
Prisoners murdered:
The camp was liberated by:
1st Canadian Army

Liberated on: May 7 1945

Visit the official memorial website

"None of us who entered the camp had any warning what so ever of what we were about to see".
Who were the camp commanders?
Camp commmanders
A list of the people who ordered and inflicted the atrocities on the prisoners.

Walter Heinrich

Augustus 1941 - 1 march 1943

Karl Peter Berg

1 march 1943 - 20 april 1945

Johann Friedrich Stöver

Deputy Commander to Heinrich

Joseph Johann Kotalla

Replacement for Stöver

Help to share this page on social media

The stories on my website are meant to educate people about WW2. You can help by sharing them with your family and friends on your social platforms. Thank you so much for your assistance.

This website is made out of respect for the victims, the civilians and the veterans of WWII. It generates no financial gain what so ever and it is merely a platform to educate the visitor about WWII.

The personal stories on this website are under copyright of the veterans themselves and the families or people who gave the stories to me. Pictures used on this webiste are owned by the veterans who made them or by whomever made the pictures/videos (mostly these images are in the public domain and can be freely used). Also bits of texts have been used with no harmful intent in any way.

If you are the owner of any picture(s) or fragments of texts that you wish to remove from this website please contact me. But I ask you to look at the nature of the website and it's goal, educating the viewer about WW2.

A big THANK YOU to the United States Army Center of Military History for their help in providing the input for these pages. All pages on this website are constantly being refitted with acurate data and texts and it is an ongoing process.

© 2000 - | D-Day, Normandy and Beyond. All rights reserved.