Herzogenbusch concentration camp

Herzogenbusch concentration camp (Dutch: Kamp Vught, pronounced [kɑmp ˈfɵxt],[1] German: Konzentrationslager Herzogenbusch [kɔntsɛntʁaˈtsi̯oːnsˌlaːɡɐ hɛʁtsoːɡənˈbʊʃ]) was a Nazi concentration camp located in Vught near the city of 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. Herzogenbusch was, with Natzweiler-Struthof in occupied France, the only concentration camp run directly by the SS in western Europe outside 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 and Dutch collaborators. Today there is a visitors' center with exhibitions and a national monument remembering the camp and its victims. The camp is now a museum.

Camp Vught
Konzentrationslager Herzogenbusch
Concentration camp
Black and white shot of a water-filled ditch, barbed-wire fences, and guard towers
A view along the fences of the camp, 1945
Herzogenbusch concentration camp is located in Netherlands
Herzogenbusch concentration camp
Location of the camp in the Netherlands
Coordinates51°39′57″N 5°15′32″E / 51.66583°N 5.25889°ECoordinates: 51°39′57″N 5°15′32″E / 51.66583°N 5.25889°E
Known for1943 – present
LocationVught, Netherlands
Built byNazi Germany
Operated bySS
First built1942
OperationalJanuary 1943
26 October 1944
InmatesJews, Gypsies political prisoners, resistance fighters, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, homeless people, black market traders, criminals, hostages
Liberated by4th Canadian Armored Division
96th Battery of the 5th Anti-Tank Division
Notable inmatesAnton Constandse, Helga Deen, David Koker
Notable booksDiary of David Koker
Guide Camp Vught National Memorial: Final destination or transit station
NM kamp Vught, Bedden in Barak
Beds in the baracks of the camp
NM Kamp Vught was ruimte
Washing area for the prisoners
NM Kamp Vught Wachttoren
Watchtowers and barbed wire fences in the camp
Crematorium kamp vught
The crematorium in the camp


During World War II, Nazi Germany occupied Netherlands (1940–1945). In 1942 the Nazis transported Jewish and other prisoners from the Netherlands via the transit camps Amersfoort and Westerbork to the Auschwitz concentration camp, except for 850 prisoners sent to Mauthausen concentration camp.[2] When Amersfoort and Westerbork appeared to be too small to handle the large number of prisoners, the Schutzstaffel (SS) decided to build a concentration camp in Vught near the city of 's-Hertogenbosch.[3]

The building of the camp at Herzogenbusch, the German name for 's-Hertogenbosch, started in 1942.[4] The camp was modelled on concentration camps in Germany.[3] The first prisoners, who arrived in 1943, had to finish the construction of the camp;[4] it was used from January 1943 until September 1944. During this period, it held nearly 31,000 prisoners: Jews, political prisoners, resistance fighters, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, homeless people, black market traders, criminals, and hostages.[4]

Due to hunger, sickness, and abuse, at least 749 men, women and children died there. Of these, 329 were murdered at the execution site just outside the camp.[4] When allied forces were approaching Herzogenbusch, the camp was evacuated and the prisoners were transferred to concentration camps further east, with women inmates being transferred to Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, and the men to Sachsenhausen concentration camp by 4–5 September 1944.[5] On 26 October 1944, Scottish troops of the 7th Black Watch and Canadian troops of the 96th Battery, 5th Anti-tank Regiment liberated the camp after fighting a rear guard of SS guards left to defend the nearly evacuated camp.[6] There were around 500-600 live prisoners left, who had been set up for execution that afternoon, whose lives were spared by the arrival of the liberating forces. About 500 inmates were also discovered dead in piles near the gates, who had been executed the very morning of the day that the camp was liberated.[5][7]

In the first years after the war, the camp was used for the detention of Germans, Dutch SS men, alleged collaborators and their children, and war criminals.[8] At first, they were guarded by allied soldiers, but shortly after by the Dutch.

Diary of David Koker

A Jewish student, David Koker (1921-1945), lived with his family in Amsterdam until he was captured on the night of 11 February 1943 and transported to Vught camp. During his internment, he wrote a diary, which was smuggled out of the camp in parts; it is now complete and conserved. It records events from 11 February 1943 until 8 February 1944. David wrote poems in his diary and taught Jewish children in the camp.

On 2 June 1944, he and his family were transported by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau. David got the chance to throw a letter from the train. The family was later transported to the Groß-Rosen camp (Langenbielau).

Netherlands: Lieve vrienden, 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 now close to the border. It is disappointing, but we were prepared and full of faith. I think a lot about you. ... I have all my dearest possessions with me: my letters and photos. When will we see each other again? That will take a long time. But we shall survive. ... Lots of love everyone, thanks for everything. Goodbye.

David's mother and brother Max survived the war, but David died during a transport of sick people to Dachau in 1945.[9]

Diary of Helga Deen

Helga Deen (Stettin, Germany, 6 April 1925 – Sobibor, 16 July 1943) was the author of a diary, discovered in 2004, which describes her stay in the Herzogenbusch concentration camp in Vught, where she was taken during World War II at the age of 18.

After her last diary entry, in early July 1943, Helga Deen was deported to Sobibór extermination camp and murdered. She was 18 years old.[10][11]


Karl Chmielewski

The first commander of Herzogenbusch 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. Chmielewski was ultimately tried and sentenced for his brutality towards the prisoners. He was removed in 1943 for stealing from the camp on a large scale. In 1961 Chmielewski was sentenced to life imprisonment for his homicidal brutality towards the prisoners.[12]

Adam Grünewald

The second commander was 40-year-old Adam Grünewald. Immediately after assuming command over the camp, he set very strict rules. In 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: twelve of the women packed into the cell died during the night. His superiors, unhappy that this tragedy was leaked to the press, brought him before an SS judge and he was sent to the Russian front as a common soldier. He was killed in action in 1945.[13]

Hans Hüttig

The last commander of Herzogenbusch was the 50-year-old Hans Hüttig. He joined the SS in 1932 as an unpaid volunteer, and the Nazi party soon thereafter.[14] In 1944 Huttig oversaw the evacuation and closure of the camp.[15]

Current state

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: Black smears were drawn on the wall, using tar, which has seeped into the stone and is impossible to remove.[16]

The camp was partially demolished after the war. The grounds now house an educational museum known as Nationaal Monument Kamp Vught,[17] the Van Brederodekazerne military base, a neighborhood for Indonesian refugees from Maluku, and the Nieuw Vosseveld high security prison. Still, parts of the old camp remain.[18] Central to the prison, the bunker where the Bunker Tragedy occurred still stands. Large parts of the southern camp buildings are now used by the Dutch military, including the former SS barracks that have a cross-shaped ground plan.[19][20]


The national monument


"Room for reflection"

See also


  1. ^ Vught in isolation: [ˈvɵxt].
  2. ^ Longerich, Peter (2010). Holocaust - The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews. Oxford University Press. pp. 360–1. ISBN 978-019280436-5.
  3. ^ a b Nmkampvught.nl (in Dutch).
  4. ^ a b c d Nmkampvught.nl (in Dutch).
  5. ^ a b "Concentration Camps: Vught". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  6. ^ Grant, C S. "ATTACK ON ST. MICHELS, GESTEL AND VUGHT". 51st Highland Division. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  7. ^ "British soldiers discover horrors of Vught camp". World War II Today. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  8. ^ Nmkampvught.nl (in Dutch).
  9. ^ Dagboek van David Koker
  10. ^ "Shades of Anne Frank in Dutch prison camp diary." Sydney Morning Herald, 22 October 2004.
  11. ^ "Dutch uncover diary of Nazi camp". BBC News. 20 October 2004. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
  12. ^ Segev, Tom (2001). Soldiers of Evil. Berkley Books. P. 33.
  13. ^ Nmkampvught.nl (in Dutch).
  14. ^ Segev 2001, p. 193.
  15. ^ Segev 2001, p. 195.
  16. ^ "Fusilladeplaats" National monument kamp Vught
  17. ^ Nmkampvught.nl (in Dutch).
  18. ^ Nmkampvught.nl (in Dutch).
  19. ^ Kamp Vught: kazerne in Vught (in Dutch), rijkmonumenten.nl, 2 October 2014, retrieved 15 October 2016
  20. ^ Fietsroute Vught in de vuurlinie (PDF) (in Dutch), Gemeente Vught, 2004, retrieved 15 October 2016

External links

Ada van Keulen

Aleida Mathilda (Ada) van Keulen (13 January 1920, Aalsmeer – 25 January 2010, Laren, North Holland) was a Dutch woman who took part in the resistance during World War II.

Van Keulen headed an illegal boy scout group in Hilversum, the Heidepark Group, which carried out work for the resistance. She was also a courier. On June 13, 1944, she was betrayed and arrested together with 27 other resistance fighters in Amsterdam. Among others, they included Jo Hessels, Hendrik van Wilgenburg, and Joukje Grandia-Smits, all of whom were imprisoned. Of the 27, only seven survived the war.

She was sent to Herzogenbusch concentration camp and in September 1944 deported to Ravensbrück. In October, she was transferred to Dachau, where she was employed in the Agfa-Commando.

On April 30, 1945, van Keulen was freed by the Americans during the Wolfratshausen evacuation march.

Adam Grünewald

Adam Grünewald (born 20 October 1902 in Frickenhausen am Main – died 22 January 1945 in Veszprém) was a German Schutzstaffel officer and Nazi concentration camp commandant.

The son of a carpenter who died when he was 8, Grünewald apprenticed as a baker but found work difficult to come by when the First World War ended and the demobilised soldiers entered the labour market. Attracted to the nationalist propaganda prevalent at the time Grünewald joined the Freikorps before signing on with the army for a 12-year stint. Leaving the army as a staff sergeant in April 1931 Grünewald again struggled to find employment and so joined the Sturmabteilung. He rose to the rank of Obersturmbannführer in the SA before switching to the SS shortly after the Night of the Long Knives.In 1943 he succeeded Karl Chmielewski as commandant of Herzogenbusch concentration camp. However like his predecessor he too was removed. Tried and found guilty of causing the deaths of prisoners by excess cruelty for the Bunker Tragedy, Chmielewski was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment but subsequently he was pardoned. He finished the war with the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf and died during a German counteroffensive in the siege of Budapest. His final rank was SS-Sturmbannführer.

Bunker Tragedy

The Bunker Tragedy or the Bunker Drama was an atrocity committed by the staff at the Herzogenbusch concentration camp (also known as Kamp Vught) in the Netherlands, in January 1944 during World War II.

Corrie ten Boom

Cornelia Arnolda Johanna "Corrie" ten Boom (15 April 1892 – 15 April 1983) was a Dutch watchmaker and later a writer who worked with her father Casper ten Boom, her sister Betsie ten Boom and other family members to help many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II by hiding them in her home. They were caught and she was arrested and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp. Her most famous book, The Hiding Place, is a biography that recounts the story of her family's efforts and how ten Boom found hope while imprisoned at the concentration camp.

Dirk Boonstra (born 1920)

Dirk Boonstra (1920) (2 September 1920, Groningen - 18 August 1944, Herzogenbusch concentration camp) was active in the resistance movement against the German occupation, in Groningen in the Netherlands during World War II. He was caught and taken to Herzogenbusch concentration camp (also known as "Kamp Vucht"). On 18 August 1944 he was executed, together with 12 other hostages.

Ernst Kossmann

Ernst Heinrich Kossmann (31 January 1922 – 8 November 2003), often named as E. H. Kossmann in his books, was a Dutch historian. He was professor of Modern History at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. His magnum opus is The Low Countries. History of the Southern and Northern Netherlands.

Georg Konrad Morgen

Georg Konrad Morgen (8 June 1909 – 4 February 1982) was an SS judge and lawyer who investigated crimes committed in Nazi concentration camps. He rose to the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer (major). After the war, Morgen served as witness at several anti-Nazi trials and continued his legal career in Frankfurt.

Hélène Berr

Hélène Berr (27 March 1921 – April 1945) was a French woman of Jewish ancestry and faith, who documented her life in a diary during the time of Nazi occupation of France. In France she is considered to be a "French Anne Frank".

Irène Némirovsky

Irène Némirovsky (French: [iʁɛn nemiʁɔfski]; 24 February 1903 – 17 August 1942) was a novelist of Ukrainian Jewish origin born in Kiev Ukraine under the Russian Empire; she lived more than half her life in France, and wrote in French, but was denied French citizenship. Arrested as a Jew under the racial laws – which did not take into account her conversion to Roman Catholicism – she died at Auschwitz at the age of 39. Némirovsky is best known for the posthumously published Suite française.

Joop Westerweel

Joop Westerweel (January 25, 1899, Zutphen – August 11, 1944, Vught) was a schoolteacher and a Christian anarchist who became a Dutch World War II resistance leader, the head of the Westerweel Group.

Westerweel, along with Joachim Simon and other Jewish colleagues, helped save around 200 to 300 Jews by organizing an escape route, smuggling Jews through Belgium, France and on into neutral Switzerland and Spain. He was arrested on March 10, 1944, after leading a group of Jewish children to safety in Spain, whilst on his way back to the Netherlands at the Dutch/Belgian border. He was executed at Herzogenbusch concentration camp in August 1944.

Jur Haak

Jur Haak ((1890-11-03)3 November 1890 – (1945-01-30)30 January 1945) was a Dutch male footballer. He was part of the Netherlands national football team, playing 2 matches and scoring 2 goals. He played his first match on 17 November 1912.Haak moved with his family from Java to Haarlem in 1904. Like his brothers Jan Haak and Albert Haak he played football for HFC Haarlem. He was also an athlete, and in September 1916 he broke the Dutch record high jump by 10 cm (from 1,69 m to 1,79 m). After his football career he taught mathematics and physics at the Amsterdams Lyceum and was a co-founder of the Montessori Lyceum Amsterdam. During World War II he was a member of the resistance. He and his wife Jet van Eek were arrested. Via the Herzogenbusch concentration camp he was deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was killed in January 1945.

Karl Chmielewski

Karl Chmielewski (born 16 July 1903 in Frankfurt am Main; died 1 December 1991 in Bernau am Chiemsee) was a German SS officer and concentration camp commandant. Such was his cruelty that he was dubbed Teufel von Gusen or the Devil of Gusen.Chmielewski joined the SS whilst unemployed in 1932 and joined the Nazi Party the following year. After initially serving in the office of Heinrich Himmler he was transferred to the Columbia concentration camp in 1935 before moving to Sachsenhausen concentration camp the following year. He was promoted to Untersturmführer in 1938 and attached to the Schutzhaftlagerführung (the 'Protective custody' units of the SS-Totenkopfverbände).From 1940 to 1942 Chmielewski, by then a Hauptsturmführer, served as Schutzhaftlagerführer at Gusen concentration camp and it was here that he developed a reputation for extreme brutality. He then became commandant of the newly established Herzogenbusch concentration camp, where he further became a by-word for cruelty.

Amongst the claims made against him was that during inspections he ordered the drowning of prisoners in buckets of water. Fellow camp commandant Franz Ziereis claimed after the war that Chmielewski had used the skin of prisoners to make wallets, book binding etc., something Ziereis claimed was strictly forbidden by the Nazi authorities. Chmielewski's reign at Herzogenbusch also garnered a reputation for corruption and he was eventually tried for personally enriching himself through stealing diamonds from prisoners. He was deprived of his position and rank, being succeeded as commandant by Adam Grünewald in 1943, and ended the war as an inmate at Dachau concentration camp.Having disappeared in Austria, Chmielewski was not tried until 1961 when he was found and received a life sentence of hard labour. The trial pronounced him a sadist who took pleasure in killing prisoners, whom he did not see as human, by scalding them with boiling water. He was ultimately found guilty of causing the deaths of prisoners through his brutality. He was eventually released in March 1979 on mental health grounds and spent his last years in a care institution at Chiemsee.

Karl Friedrich Titho

Karl Friedrich Titho (14 May 1911 – 18 June 2001) was a Germany military officer (ranked SS-Untersturmführer), who as commander of the Fossoli di Carpi and Bolzano Transit Camps oversaw the Cibeno Massacre in 1944. Titho was jailed in the Netherlands after World War II for other war crimes committed there, released in 1953, and then deported to Germany. Despite an arrest warrant in Italy in 1954 Titho was never extradited to stand trial for his actions in Italy, and died in Germany in 2001, confessing and repenting his role in the atrocities just days before his death.

List of subcamps of Herzogenbusch

Below is the list of subcamps of Herzogenbusch complex (Konzentrationslager Herzogenbusch) of Nazi concentration camps, in Dutch known as Kamp Vught.

Amersfoort or Polizeiliches Durchgangslager Amersfoort










's Gravenhage





Mies Boissevain-van Lennep

Adrienne Minette (Mies) Boissevain-van Lennep (September 21, 1896 – February 18, 1965) was a Dutch feminist who was active in the Resistance before being arrested by the Nazis and sent to the Herzogenbusch concentration camp. After the war, she promoted the idea of the national liberation skirt (nationale feestrok), and some of these unique skirts are now in Dutch museums.

Rutka Laskier

Rut "Rutka" Laskier (Hebrew: רוּת‎) (1929–1943) was a young Jewish diarist from Poland who is best known for her 1943 diary chronicling the three months of her life during the Holocaust. She was murdered at Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943 at the age of fourteen. Her manuscript, authenticated by Holocaust scholars and survivors, was published in the Polish language for the first time ever in early 2006. It has been compared to the diary of Anne Frank.

Victor Martin

Victor Martin (19 January 1912 – November 1989) was a Belgian academic sociologist, known for his involvement with the Belgian Resistance during World War II.

Using academic networks established before the war, Martin agreed to undertake a spying mission in Nazi Germany on behalf of the Front de l'Indépendance group to find reliable information on the fate of Belgian Jews deported to Eastern Europe. Martin reported his findings about the mass extermination of Jews and was one of the first to provide detailed information on the functioning of Auschwitz concentration camp.


Vught (Dutch pronunciation: [vɵxt] (listen)) is a municipality and a town in the southern Netherlands, and lies just south of the industrial and administrative centre of 's-Hertogenbosch. Many commuters live in the municipality, and the town of Vught was once named "Best place to live" by the Dutch magazine Elsevier.

Věra Kohnová

Věra Kohnová (1929–1942) was a young Czechoslovakian Jewish diarist who wrote a diary about her feelings and about events during the Nazi occupation. Her diary was published in 2006.

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