On Tuesday evening 10 December 2019 we were at Platform Militaire Historie in the Forge at the Verbindelaarsweg for a lecture by Herman Rolleman about the SS-Wachbataillon 3, which was in charge of the guarding of camp Amersfoort. This SS unit was deployed on 18 September 1944 at Ede against British paratroopers during the second day of Operation Market Garden. Camp Amersfoort was part of the large military complex Amsvorde. Not only camp Amersfoort, but the entire Amsvorde complex was guarded by the SS unit.
On 19 April 1945 Camp Amersfoort was handed over to Loes van Overeem of the Red Cross. The camp command then tried to disappear, while the Wachbataillon continued to function but all the files were burned.

 

Loes van Overeem, after camp Amersfoort was handed over to her.

OOn 8 May 1945 the British Canadian division Polar Bears liberated camp Amersfoort. After that the Wachbataillon disappeared from history as it were.
1938-1940: the run-up
 
In the 1930s, Amsvorde was a training facility for the police. In 1938-1939 Amsvorde became part of the Dutch defence line, with trenches and anti-aircraft guns. However, in the May days of 1940, no fighting took place here.
In the summer of 1940 a German division rested here from the battle. Amersfoort gradually became a garrison town like Ede. The Germans used the facilities of Amsvorde, albeit on a small scale. What would become camp Amersfoort a few years later first served as a small prison. The Gestapo took over the adjacent villas and the buildings of Don Bosco were used as classrooms.
Wall painting of Camp Amersfoort made by prisoners in 1944.
 
1942: the establishment of  the Wachbatallion
The repression increased and with it the need for prison capacity. Camp Amersfoort became a polizeiliches durchgangslager. Amsvorde became a large complex with the need to be guarded. The Amersfoort camp was under the responsibility of the Sicherheitzdienst (SD), while the complex around it, Amsvorde, became the responsibility of the new Wachbatallion to be established, similar to what in England was called the Guards.
Staff company became Wachbatallion Nord-West, later SS-Wachbataillon 3
The staff company consisted of 75 Germans and was directly subordinated to the higher SS and Polizeiführer Hanns Albin Rauter.
The commander was Paul Helle, who was charged with the task of extending the Company to a battalion, with the task of guarding the camps in Amersfoort, Vut, St Michelsgestel and Haaren. The plan to also Westerbork to guard was scrapped. On 1 January 1942 SS-Wachbataillon Nordwest was founded. The men fell under the command of the Waffen-SS and also wore the uniform of the Waffen-SS (SS-runs and Hoheitsabzeichen). Besides the Dutch (17-40 years old) also Latvians and Ukrainians (invariably referred to as Russians) served in the unit. The recruitment in the first years was very successful. Competition from the east front divisions and the Landstorm. It was a disguised conscription.
Dutch SS-soldiers of Wachbataillon Nordwest are shooting at the paratroopers who landed on Monday 18 September 1944 on the Ginkelse Heide near Ede. The Wachbataillon was driven by trucks from Amersfoort to Ede when Operation Market Garden started on 17 September 1944.
Graves of members of Wachbatallion 3 at the German cemetery Ysselstein.