A major concentration camp located within the Netherlands, Konzentrationslager Herzogenbusch was established at Vught, near the Dutch city of 's-Hertogenbosch, due to the shortage of accommodation space at Durchgangslagers (transit camps) Amersfoort and Westerbork. Construction work began in spring 1942, with the camp finally being used to hold prisoners the following January. During its existence, around 31,000 prisoners passed through the camp, including around 12,000 Jews.
The first transport brought prisoners from Amersfoort, whose duty it was finish the construction of the site. In addition to the Jews, political prisoners, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, gypsies and criminals were also deported to Herzogenbusch. Most Jews were soon transferred to Westerbork before eventually departing for the eastern death camps.
Although the camp's main function was to operate as a transit camp, work did play a significant part in the history of Herzogenbusch. Radios and other equipment were produced at the Philips work shops and a large aircraft scrap yard dealt with downed aircraft that was brought into the camp by train.
The barracks area was surrounded by a canal, in addition to electrified fencing and watchtowers. Three such towers were later rebuilt to serve as a representation for the museum display. Measuring approximately 1.5km x 400m, the camp had its own large SS zone, complete with brick structures in the form of the German cross to house the guard staff.
Three men held the position of Kommandant at Herzogenbusch - Karl Chmielewski, a 39 year old from Frankfurt am Main who would later be sacked for large scale theft, Adam Grünewald, who took over and immediately implemented stricter rules than Chmielewski had established and finally, Hans Hüttig, a WWI veteran who satisfied the whims of the SS more than either of his predecessors. Chmielewski, who also served at Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg and Gusen, ended the war as an inmate of Dachau. Later, he disappeared in Austria, escaping justice until 1961 when he received a life sentence. He died in 1991, aged 88. Grünewald is best known for his role in the "bunker tragedy", when he ordered a group of over 70 female prisoners into a cell following their protestations against the treatment of a fellow inmate. Overnight, ten died. News of this incident reached the press which led to the SS decision to remove Grünewald and send him to the eastern front where he died in battle during 1945. Many of the guard staff at Herzogenbusch were Dutch collaborators.
Despite its purpose as a transit camp, hundreds died at Herzogenbusch before it was eventually liberated by the 4th Canadian Armoured Division in autumn 1944. The camp was almost deserted as the prisoners had been evacuated - most women went to f.KL-Ravensbrück and men to KL-Sachsenhausen.
Post war, the camp was used to hold Germans and Dutch collaborators. As well as a high security prison that now stands on the former Konzentrationslager site, a large section of the southern area of the camp is today utilised by the Dutch military, including the former SS barracks. Some accommodation barracks were used to house thousands of Moluccans from the Dutch colony South Molucca.
Two links below address the "children's transport" of June 1943 and the execution site "Fusilladeplaats", where over 300 men were executed by Dutch SS members.
KL-Herzogenbusch - The Jewish Children's Transport
KL-Herzogenbusch - Execution Site " Fusilladeplaats"