For the very firts time, an entirely virtual commemoration hast atken place in the Netherlands. After all, the official commemoration with thousands of attendees could not take place because of the coronavirus. A one-hour program has therefore been offered on television, live streams of newspapers and social media. The responses from home and abroad were without exception overwhelming; a much heard sound was that this was more intense than attending an actual commemoration.
On Sunday, April 19 2020, it was 75 years ago that the former concentration camp in Amersfoort was transferred to the Red Cross, with which the camp in fact was liberated. An alternative commemoration was offered on that day from 1:30 PM. Pre-existing recordings, historical footage, drone images, individual contributions (such as solo singing) and new material were compiled (by director Dennis Brussaard and the staff of the remembrance center) into one whole, taking corona measures into account.
The commemoration program included speeches by State Secretary Paul Blokhuis (Ministry of Health and Welfare), a former prisoner, relatives of former prisoners and the director of National Monument Camp Amersfoort. Very special was the “live” performance of an orchestra and the choir of relatives, a total of 130 people, where the choir members individually sang their parts at home via their mobile phone.
The entire program can be reviewed at www.kampamersfoort.nl/19april2020 (the website of National Monument Camp Amersfoort).
On April 19, 1945 concentration camp Kamp Amersfoort (Polizeiliches Durchgangslager Amersfoort) was liberated. It is the first of the major concentration camps in the Netherlands and has been operational by (August 1941-April 1945). In Kamp Amersfoort there was an inhumanly heavy regime and it was known in Germany as “das Hungerlager”.
There were 45,000 prisoners: resistance fighters, Jews, evaders from the Arbeitseinsatz, hostages, criminals (such as black traffickers), Soviet prisoners of war, Jehovah’s witnesses and much more.
About half of Camp Amersfoort was to become a forced laborer in the German war industry, and many died in Dachau, Natzweiler and Neuengamme, among others. With 354 men shot, the vicinity of Camp Amersfoort is the largest execution site in the Netherlands.