Various groups of prisoners
During the first period of the Camp different groups of prisoners could be discerned.
In order to relieve the German camp management of every day chores and responsibilities prisoners were employed. These prisoners had a slightly better life than their fellows because they were less subjected to torture and hunger in exchange for their tasks. Their role was quite dubious (they were more or less obidient to the SS – men) and many of these prominents made good use of their privileges.
Most of the time the hostages did not stay in the PDA for long (the Jewish hostages exepted), they were released after a couple of months. In the first period of the PDA the hostages received the same treatment as other prisoners, despite their innocence and their position being outstanding. The fact that they were selected solely on their social status and where they lived did not prevent them from bad treatment in the Camp.
The criminal hostages
Some criminal hostages were always in the camp. They were arrested because of attacks with which they had nothing to do. Sometimes people were arrested even before attacks were performed, these were preventive arrests. Despite the fact that these hostages received a better treatment at first and could keep their own clothing, later in time they were subjected to the same barbaric regime as the other prisoners.
The political prisoners
To this group belonged in fact all persons that showed an ‘anti German’ attitude. Such as communists, clergymen, people from the resistance and people that broke the German regulations.
Prisoners that were regarded as antisocialists came from various background, like people that lived in caravans, showmen, work shy men, criminals and the like. Also persons that tried to enrich themselves as result of the increase in scarcity were seen as antisocialists.
The Jehovah’s witnesses
National socialists and Jehovah’s witnesses are direct opposites. The Jehovah’s witnesses bore a purple triangle on their coats and were badly treated. By signing the Verleugnungs Erklärung (declaration of denial of faith) they could be set free at once. In this declaration they promised to deny their being Jehovah’s witness. Very few of them ever signed this declaration.
The Jewish prisoners
In this camp the Jews were also very mistreated. They suffered from the personal will of the Camp – SS. It is not exactly known how many Jews were kept prison in Kamp Amersfoort during the first period. According to the administration there would have been 850 Jews among 8522 prisoners in total. In reality the amount was possibly far higher. The Jewish prisoners were deported from Amersfoort to Westerbork.
On April 27th 1941 one hundred and one Soviets were ’discharged’ at Amersfoort station, on the platform for handling cattle. The Germans took these men on a train trip that lasted a fortnight to show the citizens of Amersfoort the kind of Untermenschen these men were. The population was called to see this group walking from the station to the camp. The Amersfoorters turned out in large numbers. The citizens however brought bread and water for the prisoners. The German propaganda had backfired; instead of serving as deterrent the men provoked pity on the Amersfoorters. The young men, aged between eighteen and thirty five, were locked up in Kamp Amersfoort. On April 9th the seventy seven men left (the remainder did not survive the harsh life at the camp) were shot at Koedriest, near Kamp Amersfoort. Here is now a monument to remember these victims. After the war they were reburied at the Russian Field of Honour at the Rusthof cemetery in Leusden.
The American citizens
Also a small group of American citizens were locked up in Kamp Amersfoort, about one hundred and fifty in total. This was a result of the declaration of war by Germany to the United States of America.