On 1 December 1948, the Ministry of War took charge of Camp Westerbork. The police actions in the former Dutch Indies had begun, which resulted in a great lack of military camps in the Netherlands. Camp Westerbork became a shelter for soldiers returning from the Dutch East Indies and for those preparing to leave.
The departing soldiers received their intensive military training there. During six weeks, they were being prepared for war in the tropics. Aside from watching instructional videos, their training consisted of drills and other military exercises.
Jan Giesekam, soldier of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Brigade Prinses Irene (Royal Dutch Princess Irene Brigade), was stationed in Westerbork in those days. ‘In a darkened barrack, it was explained to us how to engage in bayonet attacks and how to deal with receiving them. We then went to practice on the moors – crawling and different sieges, for instance.’
Life in barracks
The soldiers were put up in the former residential barracks in Camp Westerbork. One barrack was assigned to every platoon of thirty soldiers. They had to eat, live and sleep here – on blue-and-white checkered bags filled with straw, under a horse blanket.
In September 1949, military camp Westerbork was disbanded.