Apart from the torture and the violence hard labour was one more means the camp management used to imprint the needed discipline into the prisoners. Prisoners were grouped into working parties. In the first period of the camp the work that had to be performed by those parties concerned mainly the expansion of the Camp. Several groups of prisoners were involved in building the barbed wire fence, chopping wood, cooking, spud bashing etc. In a ‘good’ working party the prisoners were less maltreated and less pressed into working hard. Purely to keep themselves alive many prisoners shirked from labour and tried to ‘arrange’ something edible. The Jewish prisoners were mostly delegated to the ‘heavy’ working parties. Every false step, or supposed false step meant a bashing for the prisoner. All working parties were led by the Arbeitsdienstführer (chief labour), a camp – SS man. Each working party had its own leader, called Vormann (leader). These were prisoners themselves, in charge of a small group of forced labour prisoners.
Outside the PDA, just across the road, a shooting range was built. In the foot of the Amersfoortse Berg (our local mountain) a long, straight ditch was excavated. The dug out sand was used at first in building the masonry huts (second half of 1942).
Later on the sand was piled up near the lower part of the range to form an embankment. The digging was done by hungry, often mistreated prisoners. They were allowed to use tools of a primitive kind. The prisoners digging were often punished prisoners or Jewish prisoners. They had to dig at high speed. The sand was moved in wheelbarrows and boxes that were carried by two men. If the speed of moving was not high enough or something went wrong, or if the guards just felt doing so, the prisoners were kicked and beaten. In this outdoor working party the prisoners were forced to work all days, Sundays exepted, for nine hours. Add to this the parades. Other outdoor working parties were employed at Soesterberg airport or in factories in Amersfoort. Some working parties provided wood for the camp. There was the Grobholzkommando and the Feinholzkommando. The first working party felled the trees and lugged the trunks to the camp. The second working party chopped up the trunks in order to fire the stoves, to sell it as firewood or to make it into wooden toys. This was a job for the ALBA – Kommando.