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Transport card from Amersfoort

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This transport card, as it is known, was created in the Amersfoort police transit camp. The quality of microfilm items in the ITS archive varies greatly, which is why some cards are easier to read than others. These cards were filled out following a specific template and are therefore very similar. The biggest difference is the stamp in the lower right corner of some cards, which indicates where the prisoner was sent to from Amersfoort. Additionally, on some cards the prisoner number was written by hand instead of being stamped.

This transport card, as it is known, was created in the Amersfoort police transit camp. The quality of microfilm items in the ITS archive varies greatly, which is why some cards are easier to read than others. These cards were filled out following a specific template and are therefore very similar. The biggest difference is the stamp in the lower right corner of some cards, which indicates where the prisoner was sent to from Amersfoort. Additionally, on some cards the prisoner number was written by hand instead of being stamped.

Background information on concentration camp documents

Further examples

Questions and answers

  • Where was the document used and who created it?

    These cards, known as transport cards, came from the Amersfoort police transit camp (Polizeiliches Durchgangslager Amersfoort, abbreviated as PDL, P.D.L. or P.D.A.) in the occupied Netherlands. They were kept in the registry office of this “expanded police prison” during the second phase of the camp’s existence, from May 1943 until the liberation in 1945. From May 1943, over 26,700 prisoners – primarily from the Netherlands – passed through the Amersfoort camp. Most of them (around 16,900 men) had been seized by the German Security Police during mass arrests or raids and were supposed to be deported to Germany for forced labor. Among them were many so-called contract breakers, or people from the Netherlands who had already been in Germany as forced laborers but had either escaped or not returned after being allowed to visit home.

    Amersfoort was a transit camp during this period. From here, the Security Police transferred the prisoners, usually after a very short stay in Amersfoort, to labor reeducation camps (Arbeitserziehungslager orAEL) or company-owned reeducation camps in Germany. After the prisoners had served their sentence in these camps, the Gestapo would release them and employment offices would either assign them to German companies for forced labor or send them back to their previous places of work. Some prisoners were also transferred from Amersfoort to the Neuengamme and Buchenwald concentration camps, where they would sometimes spend several months before German employment offices sent them to work in German companies. However, around 1,900 “protective custody prisoners” remained imprisoned in Neuengamme and its satellite camps. 85 percent of them did not survive the war.

  • When was the document used?

    All of the cards held by the ITS come from the second phase of the camp, between its reopening in May 1943 and the liberation in April/May 1945. No transport cards exist from the first phase of the camp, which lasted from August 18, 1941, until the temporary closure of the camp in March 1943. It is not known whether any cards were created during this period or whether they were destroyed during or after the war.

  • What was the document used for?

    Officially, Amersfoort was not a concentration camp, it was a camp under the administration of the Commanding Officer of the Security Police and the Security Service in the Occupied Netherlands. Nonetheless, its organization and living conditions were very similar to those of a concentration camp. In Amersfoort, too, there was a camp administration which was responsible for issuing prisoner registration cards, sick bay cards and money account cards. These were designed differently than the forms used in the concentration camps, but they had the same function, and the card files were managed in the same way.

    The cards known as transport cards which have been preserved from Amersfoort are a special case. Their exact purpose is no longer known. The fact that they are referred to as “transport cards” is misleading, because they were also created for prisoners who were released instead of being transported to Germany. They therefore appear to be more like the registry office cards that were kept in the concentration camps. There were no blank forms for such cards, so the registry office cards differed from camp to camp. The transport cards from Amersfoort were also arranged by prisoner number and kept in the registry office of the transit camp. The cards recorded a prisoner’s number and personal details, and stamps were used to note the dates on which the prisoner had arrived, was released or transferred. Unlike the cards from other camps, however, these cards do not mention who had admitted the prisoner to the camp or why.

  • How common is the document?

    Transport cards have not been preserved for all of the prisoners of Amersfoort; most of them are from the years 1944 and 1945. Copies of over 20,000 cards from this period are stored in the ITS archive. The ITS therefore has cards for nearly all prisoners from the second phase of the camp. In 1982, the information office of the Netherlands Red Cross (NLRC) in The Hague sent the microfilmed documents from Amersfoort along with cards and forms from the Herzogenbusch concentration camp/Kamp Vught to the ITS. Since April 1945 the original cards have been stored in the archives of the NLRC, which now, in 2018, are part of the Dutch National Archives (Nationaal Archief).

  • What should be considered when working with the document?

    In the ITS collection for Amersfoort, no distinction is made between postwar documents and cards that were created before May 1945 in Amersfoort. Two other types of cards are therefore incorrectly referred to as “transport cards”: pre-printed forms that mention the mediating employment office, and cards on which the prisoner numbers were added by hand. Both types of cards are written in Dutch. In general, therefore, it is important to always take note of the language on the card. The rule of thumb is that transport cards written in German were created during the war, while cards written in Dutch were created after the war by the information office of the Netherlands Red Cross or another institution. The cards written in Dutch are therefore not transport cards.

    In addition to the transport cards, other cards such as prisoner registration cards, money account cards and sick bay cards from Amersfoort can provide information about the prisoners detained there. Copies of these can also be found in the ITS archive. However, these documents are also not always referred to correctly. For example, the individual document envelopes of the ITS might list a registry office card even though the envelope actually contains a transport card. Additionally, prisoner registration cards are sometimes referred to as sick bay cards.

    If you have any additional information about this document or any other documents described in the e-Guide, we would appreciate it very much if you could send your feedback to eguide(at)its-arolsen.org. The document descriptions are updated regularly – and the best way for us to do this is by incorporating the knowledge you share with us.

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