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deportations, judenrat, majdanek, westerbork, chelmno, vught, wannsee, theresienstadt, roma, sinti, night of the broken glass, extermination camps, nazi´s,
hitler, jews, diaspora, jewish council, judenrat, transportation, birkenau, ghetto, hans vanderwerff, sion soeters, aktion reinhard, terezin, himmler, david irving
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wannsee, theresienstadt, roma, sinti, night of the broken glass, extermination camps, nazi´s, hitler, jews, diaspora, jewish council, judenrat, transportation,
birkenau, ghetto, hans vanderwerff, sion soeters, aktion reinhard, terezin, himmler, david irving, holocaust denial, holocaust lest we forget, jews, synagogue,
oswald pohl, siegfried seidl, protectorate, bohemia, moravia, murmelstein, karl rahm, anton burger, karl hermann frank,
Concentration camp Vught officially was referred to as Konzentrationslager-KL Herzogenbosch - concentration camp 's-Hertogenbosch. Its first inmates arrived on 13 January 1943. They came from concentration camp Amersfoort were they had been badly mistreated. The evidence was in the condition they were in when they arrived. What awaited them was an even worse nightmare. The first Jewish prisoners, textile and diamond workers, arrived three days later.
The first camp commandant was SS-Untersturmführer SS Subaltern Karl Chmielewski. This SS Officer had already earned his badge of cruelty and disgrace at Gusen concentration camp. He was well known for the barbaric atrocities he had committed while serving at Gusen, a notorious Nazi camp annex of Mauthausen. Mauthausen ranked among the most brutal of the Nazi camps. In October 1943, accused of grand theft, he was replaced by a new commandant, SS-Hauptsturmführer - SS Captain Adam Grünewald. Grünewald was responsible for the infamous bunker drama. Because of this, he was replaced in February of 1944 by yet another SS officer, SS-Untersturmführer - SS Subaltern Hans Hüttig. Hüttig was responsible for at least 329 murders, victims who were executed at Vught between July and September of 1944. This happened just prior to the liberation of the camp by Allied forces.
Originally, Vught was divided into two sections. The first section, JDL - Judendurchgangslager - transit camp for Jews, was designed to house Jewish inmates before they were deported to Poland. These transfers were carried out in two stages. First they were moved from Vught to Westerbork. Next, they were sent from Westerbork to either the extermination camp of Auschwitz/Birkenau or Sobibor. Approximately twelve thousand Jews including two thousand children under the age of sixteen left Vught via Westerbork to extermination centers in Poland or, as in the case of two transports, these went directly to Poland . The transfer of Jewish prisoners to Westerbork hardly ever created panic. Although, because of separation from father or mother, or both, children often felt deserted and bewildered. Treatment in Vught had been barbaric. Many who were transferred thought that they would permanently stay in Westerbork. That in itself was a consolation of sorts. They did not realize that Westerbork was but a holding place and subsequent portal for deportation and ultimate extermination in either Birkenau or Sobibor.
The second section of Vught served as Schutzhaftlager - security camp. This section received Dutch as well as Belgian political prisoners, both men and women. Unlike Westerbork and Ommen, the guards were exclusively drawn from the SS. Food was nearly non-existent. It basically consisted of warm water with some carrots or sauerkraut floating on the surface. The SS guards tortured the prisoners with incredible cruelty often beating them to death. Several prisoners were brutalized with a club wrapped with barbed wire. SS men often provoked their dogs to attack the prisoners. Several former inmates gave testimony how attacks by dogs had left them with horribly inflicted wounds, including wounds to the genitals. Hundreds of Dutch and Belgian prisoners were executed by firing squad in a place called De IJzeren Man - The Iron Man. This place was located approximately half a mile outside camp perimeter.
Extensions to camp Vught were carried out. Two sections were added in May and in August 1943 respectively. In May Frauenkonzentrationslager, FKL - a women's concentration camp and in August Polizeiliches Durchgangslager, PDL - a police ordered transit camp was added. The latter was reserved for hostages. A number of inmates of the PDL were shot by firing squad in retaliation for acts of sabotage committed by underground fighters, a.k.a. partisans.
Vught had its own gallows and crematorium. 747 prisoners, mostly Jews, perished in Vught between 1943 and 1944. In September 1943, these gallows were used for the executions of twenty Belgian prisoners. Several prisoner convoys left Vught directly for major camps located in Germany and Poland. However, most Jewish prisoners were deported to the extermination centers via Westerbork. The most notorious of all transports was the children transport which left Vught on the 5th of June 1943. Its ultimate destination was the extermination center at Sobibor. This transport was made up of 1266 children, all under the age of sixteen. The number of executions increased dramatically as the war came to a close.
On the 4th and 5th of September alone 117 prisoners were shot to death at the shooting range outside the camp. Tension and uncertainty descended upon the camp. Prisoners asked themselves what would happen with them. Speculation was widespread. Especially when news did the rounds that a freight train had been observed in the vicinity of the camp. Was the train for them? Would they be deported just before liberation?