Letter sent by Belgian POW Alex de Rocker, 5th Infantry Regiment, interned in Zeist Holland. He was captured after the fall of Antwerp.
Sent to: Me— Editor Bandera Americana Albuquerque New Mexico USA. La Bandera Americana was a newspaper published in Albuquerque.
On front: purple ‘PORTVRW FRANC DE PORT. Militaires étrangers internés dans (les Pays Bas)’ cancellation, purple ‘No charge for postage Prisoner of War Mail New York N.Y’ cancellation, and black ‘---BW ZEIST 3’ postmark.
Sent by Alex de Rocker.5th Belgian Infantry Regiment 3-3, Zeist Holland.
Folded, small tears.
At the start of the First World War on 4 August 1914 Germany invaded Belgium. From that moment onwards hundreds of thousands of Belgians fled to the Netherlands; among which were about 40.000 Belgian military refugees. In conformity with the Peace treaty of The Hague of 18 October 1907 the neutral nation of the Netherlands was obliged to disarm and intern EVERY military man
Before the fall of Antwerp on 10 October there were already 2,200 interned Belgians accommodated at Gaasterland, spread over the different villages: Oudemirdum, Rijs, Bakhuizen, Balk and Sondel.
Amersfoort and Harderwijk had to accommodate the greater part of these interned. At first this took place in existing barracks that turned out to be much too small. At Harderwijk (there were 13,000 military refugees to accommodate) a camp of tents was erected 2 kilometres from the centre. At Amersfoort 15,000 people had to find shelter in a barracks designed for only 4,000. Here a camp of 900 tents was erected. The crowded barracks of Amersfoort forced Bosboom (the then Secretary of State for War) to build two wooden camps of barracks (Camp I and II) as early as mid-October 1914 near Zeist on the estate of the local government of Soesterberg. The official name of this camp was: Internment camp Amersfoort - near Zeist: usually referred to as Camp Zeist. The camp existed of two camps of 24 barracks in an area of 25 hectares separated by a broad aisle fenced in with barbed wire. Later sports grounds were laid out here. 12,000 to 15.000 interned could be accommodated here.