The National Archives has once again made several files public. Among them are documents from A. van Tuyll van Serooskerken, chairman of the committee that investigated abuses in the camps after the war where suspects of collaboration with the German occupiers were imprisoned.

    The stacks of documents include statements from these “political offenders.” For example, a man who was born in 1910 tells about his arrival in a camp in Zweeloo. “The five of us were then driven into the camp with continuous blows of sticks and blows with pieces of iron and chased around the camp. With a piece of wood I received a hard blow on the head, as a result of which I was bleeding and I am unconscious touched.”

    The man says that he was later also mistreated in Camp Westerbork, that he saw this happen several times to other internees and that people had to pay for their stay there with their deaths. “In this camp, an average of one detainee per day died, especially in the early days.”

    A fellow sufferer from 1892 tells about Westerbork: “There was such hunger that prisoners ate grass, ants and weeds.” According to him, a 17-year-old boy “died of exhaustion”. A woman, from 1922, who lived in Sellingerbeetse – just across the border from Groningen – said that babies who had been placed there with their mother also died there.

    It not only contains testimonies from Zweeloo and Westerbork, but also from, among others, the cell barracks in Scheveningen. A witness, born in 1906, told about his stay in the cell barracks that he had to help clear barbed wire “on Houtrust”, with his hands and socks: “Three guards stood around us and we were constantly We were obliged, when a coil of barbed wire was finished, to transport it on our bare backs to another place. As we walked we were pushed with the butt of the gun and beaten with clubs.”

    Later he had to clean clogged toilets with his hands. For ten days he was also beaten twelve times with a rubber bat on the behind by three men three times a day in his cell.

    A woman from 1911 who was in the cell barracks says that after ten months there she still weighed 41 kilos, that the ‘guardians’ stole her clothes and that prisoners were sometimes not allowed to shower for months. Detained women were also beaten, sometimes in the presence of their daughters.

    A doctor born in 1892, who was arrested in the hospital between two operations and was therefore unable to provide instructions for the care of the first patient, ended up in the Orphanage Barracks in Naarden. According to the doctor, the medical conditions were ‘disgraceful’: “I have seen five or six people die.”