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Leven naast het kamp

by Boyd van Dijk

What happened to a small Dutch community when it was suddenly confronted with a neighboring SS-concentration camp? The inhabitants of the suburban town Vught were forced to live together with Konzentrationslager Herzogenbusch, also known as Camp Vught. The ties between the two were strong: villagers supplied the crematorium with petrol, committed crimes, but also distributed a multitude of aid packages among the prisoners. Many, however, kept a large distance from the camp. Their experiences are at the heart of this biography of a community living next to the most deadly concentration camp of the Low Countries.


A beautiful book (...) By not being judgmental the author reveals the gray area between guilt and innocence.

De Correspondent

Meticulous and lively (...) Sagacious. (★★★★)

Anet Bleich, de Volkskrant

An interesting study (...) The most intelligent part from Van Dijk’s account is its being non-judgmental. He describes which choices villagers made and, above all, why they did so.

Henk van Renssen, Vrij Nederland

Top-three greatest history books of 2013 (...) This book, mainly because of its chosen angle, is a must-read for everyone interested in World War II in the Netherlands.

Ewout Klei, The Post Online

Leven naast het kamp [makes] painfully clear that bystanders directly or indirectly could have a large share in the persecution of Jews and political prisoners.

Susan Hogervorst, Low Countries Historical Review (BMGN)

We're now living in a time of peace and prosperity, but it's promising and hopeful that the generation of Van Dijk (26) still remains committed to writing about the epitome of Dutch modern history. Books like these fill the existing gap in our history education.


A fascinating book on the dilemma resistance/accomodation.

Jan Hoekema, Mayor of Wassenaar

Van Dijk was mainly guided during his scientific research by curiosity and wonder (...) In this book he conveys that astonishment directly to the reader.

Yfke Nijland and Ad van Liempt, author of Kopgeld and Jodenjacht

With his debut 'Leven naast het kamp' Boyd van Dijk has written a chronicle of life in Vught in all its diversity. The combination of inconceivable barbarity with the inconvenient everyday life makes this story thorough, sincere and so leaves a lasting impression. (★★★★)

Cutting Edge

Boyd van Dijk is a talented historian (...) With his remarkable Leven naast het kamp he shows that he has a lot of promise.


Leven naast het kamp makes you thinking. What would I’ve done at that moment? The author (...) draws in a striking and special way our attention again to World War II. (★★★★)


Renewed third edition out now.

About Leven naast het kamp

About the author

Boyd van Dijk (Breda, 1987) studied political science and history at the University of Amsterdam. For a half year he was an exchange student at Sabançi University in Istanbul, Turkey. In 2010 he completed his MA at his alma mater and then left to New York to study Modern European History at Columbia University.

Apart from his studies he wrote several reviews, reportage, and other stories for a (Dutch) newspaper and magazines. For half a year, he taught courses on contemporary history at the University of Maastricht.

In 2012 he received the prestigious Erik Hazelhoff Young Talent Award for his thesis about Camp Vught and its neighbors. One year later he made his debut with his book entitled Leven naast het kamp. He is currently a PhD student in Florence, Italy. At the European University Institute (EUI) he works on the history of the laws of war, in particular the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

For more information see his LinkedIn. In case of questions or remarks you can contact the author by email.