Camp Amersfoort – The Netherlands

Guard Tower at Concentration Camp Amersfoort, Netherlands

In one day we visited the Amersfoort cemetery in Leusden and camp Amersfoort. Both locations, the camp and the cemetery, lie only 5 kilometers apart.
Right beside the car park, just before the documentation centre, stands a lonely watchtower. Originally there were eight of these towers placed around the camp. One on each corner and one watchtower at the middle of each side.

Military Camp

In 1939 the Dutch Government commissioned the construction of an army compound, complete with barracks and training grounds. The intention was to house a Dutch artillery unit. From 18 August 1941 on, after the occupation of the Netherlands, the camp was used by the German police. They transformed it to a “Polizeiliches Durchgangslager”; a political transit camp. From this day the amry compound was tranformed into a Concentration Camp named Amersfoort, like the nearby town. The barracks, originally intended for the Dutch soldiers, were used as housing for the prisoners.

Barbed wire at Fence – Concentraion Camp Amersfoort

Transit Camp for Political Prisoners

From the first beginning of the camp, on 18th of August 1941, they received 200 prisoners. A group of communists, transferred from Concentration Camp Schoorl, another camp in the Netherlands. The camp was under the command of SS-Obersturmführer Walter Heinrich. He was a policeman who had little or no experience with the leadership in a camp. Two experienced executioners from the notorious Concentration Camp Dachau were at his diposal.
Concentration camp Amersfoort was, because two executioners, a notorious camp on its own. In addition to the SS butcher Kötalla they used “Kapo’s” in the camp. Kapo’s are prisoners which worked for the Germans, they took charge of a section of prisoners. In return they were offered a better treatment or more food. Unfortunately they didn’t shy cruelties on their fellow inmates.

Remnants of the prison cell in the bunker – Concentration Camp Amersfoort, Netherlands
Concentration Camp Amersfoort, Netherlands

Forced Labour

The daily jobs of the prisoner were exhausting. The “Forrest-crew” had to attend hard labour in the woods, such as the grubbing-up of trees and chop them into pieces. The nutrition provided to do this kind of work failed causing malnutrition, disease and even death.

The firing range – Concentration Camp Amersfoort, Netherlands
The stone man statue at the end of the firing range The firing range – Concentration Camp Amersfoort, Netherlands

In total, there are around 35000 registered prisoners in the camp archives. 14000 of them were put on transport to labour camps in Germany, 5000 to other types of camps. More than 15000 were released, fled or were executed or killed. 650 prisoners are killed by violence from the two executrioners, Kapo’s or other SS staff memebers alone in camp Amersfoort.

Mass grave behind the firing range – Concentration Camp Amersfoort, Netherlands

The Firing Range

The 320-metre-long firing range was manually excavated by the prisoners. This location was also used by the camp guards as an executing site. Directly after the war a mass grave was discovered at the end of the firing range containing 49 bodies. The statue of the “Stone man” marks the exact execution spot.

The House of the Dead

Next to the shooting range are the foundations of a house, a morque, were they brought the dead.
In this house they were covered with quicklime. After the war, another mass grave near the house was discovered. Most of the remains from the victims were lost, long gone due to the use of this quicklime.

Remains of the morgue – Concentration Camp Amersfoort, Netherlands
Remains of the morgue – Concentration Camp Amersfoort, Netherlands
Foundations of another guard tower – Concentration Camp Amersfoort, Netherlands

The Russian Cemetery

Behind the camp they found another, a third, mass grave, with 77 Russian victims. The group is murdered in 1945 at this precise location. From the original 101 member of the Russian unit, 24 of them died to the hardships of the camp. The 77 surviving prisoners were murdered on 9 April 1942. The Koedriest, or Russian monument is a silent reminder of this sad day.

Road to the Russian Mass Grave and Memorial – Concentration Camp Amersfoort, Netherlands
The Russian Koedriest monument – Concentration Camp Amersfoort, Netherlands


Camp Amersfoort offers a small documentation centre and some remains of the original camp itself. Many of the objects are outdoors and reachable through forest paths.
You can check the current opening hours on the Concentration camp Amersfoort website.

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