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German civilians in Camp Vught

GETUIGENVERHALEN.NL

 

Realisation project:

Stichting Nationaal Monument Kamp Vught

 

Time frame: september 1944 – juni 1945
Location: Selfkant Germany, Vught
Number of interviews: 9

 

Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog

DANS: https://doi.org/10.17026/dans-zgm-wjqr

 

In September 1944, the SS concentration camp in Vught was evacuated. After the arrival of the Allies, the site was almost immediately given a new purpose. The Allied army took over parts of the complex and moreover, thousands of Dutch people suspected of collaboration with the German occupier were interned in the camp. What is less well known is that these internees were soon joined by thousands of evacuated German civilians.

 

As part of this interview project, nine interviews were conducted with German citizens who had been forcibly interned at the former Vught concentration camp between November 1944 and May 1945. Their experiences shed light on a still unknown aspect of the camp’s post-war history. In particular, the interviews reveal much about the treatment of the prisoners by Canadian troops. The relationship between the Dutch collaborators and the interned German civilians is also discussed. How did the German civilian prisoners experience being locked up in one camp with the Dutch collaborators? How did contact between the two groups develop? The statements by the German civilians also show how, immediately after the war in the Netherlands, concepts such as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ were dealt with.

The German civilians in Vught came from the Selfkantgebiet east of Sittard. In September 1944, this area was frontline territory and the approximately 6,000 residents had to be transferred to camp Vught two months later by order of the British army command. Those who stayed behind and were discovered would be shot. The German civilians were taken to Vught, where thousands of Dutch collaborators were also interned and where Canadian troops were also stationed.