In Amersfoort, the transfer of Camp Amersfoort to the Red Cross was commemorated on April 19, 1945. For the first time, there were no former prisoners at the commemoration, writes RTV Utrecht.
“The handful of people who are still alive are unfortunately no longer able to come to the commemoration,” says Micha Bruinvels, director of National Monument Kamp Amersfoort. In front of them, in the first row of seats, is a rose. “It was they who were subjected to an inhumane camp regime on this site from 1941 to 1945.”
During the Second World War, Kamp Amersfoort held a total of 47,000 prisoners. Hunger, forced labor and abuse were the order of the day.
Relatives of camp prisoners spoke at the commemoration, which was organized with the public for the first time in four years. Erik van der Wal came over from Australia especially to commemorate his father together with his sister. He was one of dozens of people who were taken to Scheveningen as hostage-takers after April 19. “He lived in total fear for eighteen days, after which he spoke little about it,” says Erik.
Nasty vicious circle
Not only the Second World War was commemorated. The war in Ukraine was also discussed. Ukrainian Hanna Hrabarska, who fled to the Netherlands with her mother, spoke at the meeting. “The war didn’t start in February, but the moment the fear crept in that Russia might invade,” she says. “I never expected to have to speak at a memorial as a war refugee.”
Director Bruinsveld responded to her speech: “The impact on the lives of the relatives who spoke today will all follow in her country. That makes it a nasty vicious circle.”