Original Editor's Note: Thanks so much to
Kathy Bjegovich and her father Norman Turner,
Canadian WW2 veteran and liberator of Vught concentration camp for
the informations they kindly sent me concerning the liberation of
the camp. This page has been updated on July 27th, 1998.
One of the
very rare pictures of Vught concentration camp
the only official SSconcentration
camp in occupied
established in occupied Holland. Construction
began in May 1942.
The first prisoners arrived at the camp before
it was finished at the end of 1942. These prisoners
came from the camp in Amersfoort,
which the Nazis wanted to give up. The famished and
abused prisoners arrived at the railway station in
Vught and were marched off along the streets.
The first commander of the camp
was an SS captain named Karl Chmilewski. This SS Officer was
well known for the barbaric atrocities he had committed
at the camp of Gusen,
an sub-camp of Mauthausen. (Mauthausen had a reputation
as one of the most brutal Nazi camps). Later, the
commanders of the camp were SS officer Grunewald
(October 1943) and SS officer Huttig (February 1944).
The electric fences and the look-out
Originally, Vught was
divided into two sections: the first one (Judendurchgangslager -
JDL) was designed to hold the Jewish prisoners before their
transit to Germany the transfers were done in two transports: from
Vught to Westerbork then from
Westerbock to the extermination camps. The pending transfer of
Jewish prisoners to Westerbock never created panic: many of the
Jews thought that they would stay permanently in Westerbock. They
didn't know that Westerbock was just a “waiting room“ before their
Vught were initially deplorable. Hundreds
of prisoners died during the first few months as
a result of maltreatment, shortage of clothing,
lack of food, polluted water, and various
infectious diseases that were rampant in the overcrowded
barracks. Many Jewish children were victims of
this. After a while conditions improved simply
because nearly all the Jews had been deported
and so the camp had more space.
The second section of Vught was
designed as a security camp (Schutzhaftlager).
This section received all the Dutch and Belgian
political prisoners, men and women. The guards were
exclusively SS. The food was nearly nonexistent
: warm water with some carrots or sauerkraut floating
on the surface. The SS guards tortured the prisoners
with incredible cruelty beating them to death (several
prisoners were brutalized with a club wrapped with
barbed wire). The SS often provoked their dogs to
attack prisoners and there are several testimonies
of horrible wounds, including to genitals. Altogether
749 people lost their lives for various reasons.
A large number of them (mostly members of the
resistance) were executed in the woods near the
camp at the so called “Fusilladeplaats.”
The gallows. There was another gallows in the
Two other sections were
established in May and August 1943: the
“Frauenkonzentrationslager” (FKL) for
women and the “Polizeiliches
for prisoners in detention, mostly for a short period.
Like any other Nazi concentration
camp, Vught had its own gallows and crematorium. In September
1943, the gallows was used for the executions of 20 Belgian
prisoners. There were several convoy from Vught to the major camps
located in Germany and Poland: i.e. in June 1943, hundreds of
Jewish children were sent to Sobiborextermination
were also transportation of Jews to death camps in November 1943
and June 1944. In July, as the Allied forces approached, the
number of executions increased dramatically.
More than 30,000 people passed
through the gates of the camp in the 18 months
efore the allied forces arrived. After D-day,
June 6, 1944,
the Germans wanted to clear
the camp as fast as possible. Most of the women
were transported to the concentration camp in Ravensbrück,
and the men to Sachsenhausen. On
September 5-6, 1944,Vught was
practically evacuated. It wasn’t
26-27, 1944, that
Vught was liberated.
The 4th Canadian Armor Division,
and the 96 Th Battery of the 5th Anti -Tank Division
were the first in liberating Vught concentration
Camp. The Canadians troops came over the hill right
up to the wall fighting the Germans. The Germans
were evacuation from the camp and left a rear guard
action to fight the allies. They were fighting and
running at the same time. As you entered the camp
into a courtyard there were 500 bodies laying in
a pile that these poor people were just executed
that morning. They were just thrown in a pile. There
were around 500-600 live prisoners left who had been
set up for execution that afternoon, but, the Canadian's
arrived instead so they were spared. The people were
in the most horrible condition, starving to death,
ill, and very badly mistreated. When the Canadian's
arrived they were standing around in the courtyard.
Not in any barracks just standing around while the
fighting was going on.
the liberation, the buildings of the camp were
used as an “internment
camp” to shut away the “bad” Dutch
collaborators. There were also 6.000 evacuated
Germans forced to stay in the camp until May 1945.
The Canadian Army also utilized of the camp. The
internment camp existed until 1949. The
former camp location is now occupied by a penitentiary.
In April 1990, the National Monument
Camp Vught was opened by H.M. Queen Beatrix. The
museum is located at Lunettenlaan 600, Vught, Holland.
There is also a permanent exhibition about the “Kamp
Vught” in the “Vughts Historish Museum”, Taalstraat
5263 NT Vught,
Tel: +31 (0)73-65 66 764 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday to Friday Saturday / Sunday (Other dates on special request
Closed: Monday, 25 and 31 December,
1 January, 10-31 January