s-Hertogenbosch

Never Again: Herzogenbusch Concentration Camp

more than a year ago

‘You always had to navigate around the dangers of camp life. This caused a constant sense of fear. Always be vigilant. Hunger and fear were the two factors with which the Germans systematically undermined our resistance,’ said Joop Citroen, who ended up in Herzogenbusch Concentration Camp during the Second World War. Somehow he survived the hell in the forests outside ’s-Hertogenbosch.

A visit to the national monument of Herzogenbusch Concentration Camp is a moving experience you won't soon forget. Today only a small part of the camp has been preserved, but at the height of its brutality it covered an area of 350,000 square meters. There's a memorial centre and museum with permanent and temporary exhibitions, a preserved section of the old camp and, perhaps most chillingly, an execution place where prisoners were shot.

A guided tour
Although you can take in the barbarus sights on your own, we recommend a guided tour. We had the pleasure of following Frans van Rijswijk, who guided a group of about fifteen people including ourselves one afternoon. It's deadly quiet when Frans speaks, because everybody needs a moment to let the horrifying facts sink in.

A visit to the rebuilt barracks is impressive to say the least. It's a copy of one of the many barracks that stood here during the World War II. Frans tells us about the lack of privacy, except at the latrines. “No German or guard ever came there to check it out. They were forewarned – it stank like a polecat. For prisoners this space was ideal for exchanging the latest war news with newcomers.”

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