Civilian workers in camp Vught

GETUIGENVERHALEN.NL

 

Realisation project:

 

Stichting Nationaal Monument Kamp Vught

 

Tiime frame: autumn 1942 – september 1944
Location: Selfkant Duitsland, Vught, Cromvoirt
Number of interviews: 10

(restricted public)

 

Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog

DANS: https://doi.org/10.17026/dans-zpz-6g46

 

During the Second World War, Camp Vught was the only SS concentration camp west of the German border. From the first work to build the camp, in mid-1942, to its evacuation in September 1944, various groups of workers were involved. In addition, from one moment to the next, local residents were confronted with an instrument of persecution and terror. Many were moved by the fate of the prisoners, tried to help, but eventually ended up behind the barbed wire themselves. The stories of those who lived in the vicinity have made their way into history only to a very limited extent. Nor has sufficient attention been paid to the ‘voluntary’ work of the civilian labourers.

 

As part of this oral history project, eight testimonies of Dutch civilian workers and local residents have been recorded. Paying attention to these almost forgotten groups also means an interesting insight into the behaviour and dilemmas they faced, the choices they made and their consequences. These groups of ‘bystanders’ are given a sharper profile through the interviews.

 

In 1942, work started on the construction of Konzentrationslager Herzogenbusch, as Camp Vught was officially called. When the first starving and exhausted prisoners arrived from Amersfoort in January 1943, Vught was not yet ready. The prisoners had to finish the camp themselves. The miserable conditions cost the lives of several hundred people in the first few months. Between January 1943 and September 1944, a total of more than 31,000 people were locked up in the camp for short or long periods of time. Besides 12,000 Jews, Vught also held political prisoners, resistance fighters, Jehovah’s Witnesses, students, black marketeers and illegal slaughterers, criminals and hostages. Of these, more than 750 children, women and men died in the camp due to hunger, disease and mistreatment.