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Camp Amersfoort

VPRO / Hans Verhagen
Time period: 1939-1969
Number of interviews: 25
Accessibility: for research purposes
Transcripts: yes
Period of interviews: 1977-1978

The collection has not yet been digitized and therefore cannot be viewed directly at Sound & Vision. Digitization can, however, be requested from Sound & Vision via:

In DAAN, the digital archive of Sound & Vision the following item can be found: the documentary for which the interviews were made: De geschiedenis van een plek 14-05-1978 VPRO

Medium: 12 sound tapes

Title: Geschiedenis van een Plek, concentratiekamp Amersfoort

Authors: Armando, Hans Verhagen en Maud Keus

Publisher: De Bezige Bij, 1980

ISBN: 9789023452683

The interviews were made for the three-hour documentary film History of a Place, which Hans Verhagen made together with Armando in 1978 for VPRO television about the concentration camp Amersfoort (municipality of Leusden). They approach their subject as the history of the (‘guilty’) site. Discussed are: the origins of the camp in 1939 as an army site for mobilised Dutch soldiers, its function as the German occupier’s concentration camp during World War II, its use as a repatriation camp the first months after liberation and as an internment camp for Dutch SS and NSB members immediately afterwards, its demolition in the late 1960s in favour of the new building for the De Boskamp Police Training Centre. The focus, however, is on the period when the camp served as a concentration camp for the German occupiers.


The film was broadcast as the final episode of the series Het gat van Nederland, on 14 May 1978. Many of the interviews are partly conducted walking, including a film camera, through the area around the camp.

As ex-prisoners, Van Dam, Kleinveld, Molenaar, Zoetmulder, Wolders, Van den Burg, Van den Berg, Robeer, chaplain Slots and Schols recount their experiences in the camp. They had mostly ended up there because of resistance activities. They talk about the camp executioners Berg and Kotälla, among others. Also
The following are also interviewed: the contractor who built the barracks in 1939 (Herzinger); the caretaker of the cemetery near the camp, who buried the dead from the camp but also smuggled the living from the site (Jansen); a municipal worker from Leusden who helped prisoners escape whenever possible,
sending letters etcetera (Schut); the son of the owner of Hotel Oud-Leusden, which had been requisitioned by the Germans during the occupation period and was located right next to the camp (Jets); the house painter who painted the barracks both in 1939 and in 1945, shortly after liberation (Van Hoven); the camp’s Amersfoort vegetable supplier (Van Zomeren); the demolisher of the last barracks in the late 1960s (Van Essen); the German Engbrocks, who had been living in the Netherlands for some time before the war, and who was trained as a punishment to become an SS camp guard in Amersfoort in 1941, and was called the “good German” by many prisoners because he tried to help them the employee of the Dutch Red Cross Van Overheem, who, especially in the last year of the war, tried to get as many food parcels into the camp as possible and who was called the ‘white angel of Amersfoort’ by the prisoners (she also played an important role in the camp in the few months it served as a repatriation centre for Dutch people returning from Germany); the camp commander after the liberation (Van Zwol); the director of the Police Training School De Boskamp, whose institute was established on the site in the late 1960s (Steenlaar); some unnamed students and a sports teacher from the police training school on the past of the site in short interviews.


Interviewees: Frans van de Berg, Jan van den Burg, N. van Dam, Willy Engbrocks, R. van Essen, H. Hertzinger, A. van Hoven, Evert Jansen, Martin Jets, Gerrit Kleinveld, Rev. O. Molenaar, mrs. van Overheem, Henk Robeer, Joep Schols, Arie Schut, Jean Slots, M. van Steenlaar, Hans Wolders, S.H.A.M. Zoetmulder, A. van Zomeren, C. van Zwol, some anonymous persons.

Living with war experiences

Smolinski Foundation
Time period: 1940-1945
Number of interviews: 192
Accessibility: restricted public
Period of interviews: 2019-present

Herman Teerhöfer managed to interview a large number of survivors, starting from their life stories, about their personal experience and perception of the events and circumstances before, during and after World War II.

The poignant stories have been recorded in people’s homes, in image and sound. All interviewees also give a message for future generations in the interview.


Central questions in the interviews are:

  • How were they able to survive and what did they draw strength from?
  • Where did they draw mental support from? What was their footing?

  • How did they make sense of their lives after the war despite many experiences of loss and trauma?

  • How did they experience anti-Semitism prior to and after World War II?

  • What message do they have for future generations regarding tolerance and forbearance?



From the testimonies and stories goes the warning “Never again war” and at the same time they call for cherishing and celebrating the freedom we now enjoy.


Wide-ranging interviews
Over the years, a large collection of interviews has been produced. The topics cover a wide range of aspects of World War II, due to the diverse background and environment the interviewees were in.


Smolinski Foundation aims to unlock a large collection of interviews in a way suitable for use during lessons in schools and presentations for cultural and civil society organisations. Digital, interactive teaching materials are also being developed. Interview fragments can also be used in museum presentations.


Overview of available interviews

  • 84 life stories of Auschwitz survivors:
    • 20 interviewees were deported from Camp Vught to Auschwitz
    • 28 interviewees were deported to Auschwitz from Camp Westerbork
    • 36 interviewees were deported to Auschwitz from other camps and ghettos outside the Netherlands
  • 25 life stories of Jewish people who managed to survive in hiding during World War II
  • 11 life stories of people who participated in the Jewish resistance during World War II
  • 8 life stories of survivors of Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen
  • 3 life stories of survivors of Westerbork only
  • 1 life story of a survivor of e.g. Camp Amersfoort
  • 10 life stories of survivors of Japanese camps in the former Dutch East Indies
  • 2 life stories of people who were children of NSB parents during World War II
  • 8 life stories of resistance fighters and former political prisoners from Camp Vught
  • 20 life stories of people who survived the Second World War and who, for example, witnessed a bombing (Nijmegen, Tilburg or Rotterdam), or experienced the hunger winter, or joined the Allies at liberation, or other testimonies of the Second World War in the Netherlands
  • 10 life stories of people who witnessed the persecution of Jews in, for example, Amsterdam, Leiden and Tilburg, people who witnessed prisoners being put to work outside the camp in Camp Amersfoort or Camp Vught during World War II. These people lived in the immediate vicinity of Camp Amersfoort or Camp Vught at the time of the war.
  • 10 life stories of people who experienced Anne Frank before and/or during the war in Amsterdam and/or in Westerbork, Auschwitz-Birkenau and/or Bergen-Belsen. They were classmates or close friends of Anne Frank in Amsterdam, or they were fellow prisoners in Westerbork, Auschwitz-Birkenau and/or Bergen-Belsen.

Women’s relief work

Time period: 1950 - 1990
Number of interviews: 8
Accessibility: Unknown
Transcripts: Unknown

Oral history interviews with feminists who pioneered women’s mental and physical health care.


For brief descriptions of the interviewees, see the website van Artria

Diversity of the Amersfoort Memory

Archief Eemland
Number of interviews: 40
Accessibility: restricted public

In the past 50 years, a large number of migrants have come to Amersfoort to build a new life for themselves. Archives Eemland could not find any information about their history. In order to change this and to make future source research possible, Archives Eemland has set itself the goal of collecting source material about migrants. The oral history project ‘Diversity of the Amersfoort Memory’ laid the foundation for this.

The collection now consists of 40 interviews (24 of which are publicly accessible) with Amersfoort-based migrants. Information on the content and background of the project can be found at

From the exhibition ‘Amersfoort Works’ at Museum Flehite in 2005. Eight portraits of people in their working environment make the connection between past and present. The people portrayed tell about their work in the city and their personal love for the profession.

A church split in wartime

Time period: 1940-1945



Realisation project:


Historisch Documentatiecentrum voor het Nederlands Protestantisme (©)


Time frame: 1940-1945
Location: Amersfoort
Number of interviews: 10


Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog



Interviews can be viewed at:


During the Second World War, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (GKN) experienced a church war that resulted in the so-called Liberation of 1944. With the Liberation, 90,000 Reformed people (approximately twelve per cent) left the GKN and founded a new denomination, later called the Reformed Churches (Vrijgemaakt).


Little is known about how young members of the church experienced the wartime split.
In this oral history project, a number of them will have their say. The central question is how they experienced the wartime church split.


The wartime schism was a major event. National Socialism was considered an anti-Christian ideology by most Reformed people. The members of the GKN therefore played a relatively large role in the resistance against the occupying forces, although there were also well-known Reformed people who joined the NSB and SS. The divisions could be twofold: either for or against Nazism, or both for or against the separation of the church. In any case, the close ties of friendship and family within the community were under great pressure. From the very beginning, those who separated were criticised for their broken unity. The Vrijgemaakten, however, emphasised that they were fighting the same battle for freedom of conscience in church and society.

Bridge over the river IJssel near Kampen in 1941 - HOLLANDISH HIGHWAY / ALPHONS HUSTINX

Camp Amersfoort



Stichting Nationaal Monument Kamp Amersfoort
Time period: 1941-1945
Number of interviews: 74

National Monument Camp Amersfoort, on the border of Leusden and Amersfoort, is one of the three best known Dutch memorial centers. Between 1941 and 1945, approximately 37,000 prisoners were incarcerated for short or long periods of time in this transit camp, which was also a penal camp under the direct command of the SS.

Over the years Camp Amersfoort National Monument has been able to interview more than 100 former prisoners about their time in the camp during the Second World War. These extraordinary interviews provide an impressive glimpse into what life was like in Camp Amersfoort at the time. Stories about punishment, the bad food, the cruel regime, but also about fellow prisoners and how you tried to survive as a prisoner. As far as possible all interviews will be made available in the near future.