Febr 2019 - Man and technology

Loaded footsteps

On Friday 15 February, former prisoner Wim de Ridder and the mayors of Amersfoort and Leusden gave the official go-ahead for the expansion of National Monument Kamp Amersfoort. Together, they unveiled the job site sign in front of a substantial crowd and toasted to a successful renovation.

Initiators, board members, designers, process supervisors, employees, sponsors and volunteers came in large numbers. Many of them were closely involved in the final design by Inbo, landscape architect Cor Geluk of Juurlink [+] Geluk and Tinker Imagineers who were responsible for the interior design. 

The scale model that beautifully shows the subtlety of the architecture of the expansion received great attention. Architect and partner at Inbo, Jacques Prins: ‘The “omission” in particular, avoiding doing too much and letting the environment speak, was leading in the design process. “Imagining” is visualising what can no longer be seen. This led to an underground building with a reserved architecture, which we expect will remain as current as the existing building that we designed on this site 15 years ago.’ 

During World War II, over 35,000 Dutch were held prisoner at Kamp Amersfoort, often in deplorable conditions. Hundreds died of deprivation or by firing squad. Thousands upon thousands of prisoners, often weakened, were placed on transports to camps in Nazi Germany. 

In her speech, director Willemien Meershoek emphasised the necessity of an environment in which ‘the experience of’ and ‘the understanding of’ what transpired here properly comes into its own. ‘Many prisoners encountered true hell past these gates. For us, it is vital that, in the near future, we can show visitors this emotionally charged spot of the camp and get more space to tell the stories of the prisoners, for expositions, education and contemplation.’ 

The expansion should be done by the spring of 2020, exactly 75 years after the transfer of the prisoners’ camp to the Red Cross. 

- A place of injustice
- Kamp Amersfoort, Leusden

Further information: Jacques Prins