Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Breendonk !!!Day 12: Wednesday June 12, 2013

We went to the Nazi concentration camp called Breendonk. It was built as a military fort by Belgium shortly after independence in the early 1900 so as for the country to defend herself from enemies.  We had a tour guide and she narrated the history Breendonk from 1906 – 1940 before German took over and the events that occurs between 1940- 1944 after the Germany took over.  I felt so sad hearing the horrible story and how human beings were treated like animals by their fellow human.
The fort of Breendonk is located along the ancient highway Brussels - Antwerp. The first prisoners arrived here on September 20th, 1940. Comparing with other camps, prisoners were executed within the maximum of 24 hour of arrival at the camps but in Breendonk they are made to work tirelessly until they had no strength again. Most prisoners are those in resistance to the Germany and the Jews. Prisoners work in the group of four members but Jews were made to work in group of three. The condition in which these prisoners are subjected to is so bad that they had only one dress through their stay at the prison. The uniform of the Belgium army was used for the prisoners. Our tour guide explained what happens from the arrival to execution of prisoner; the tortures, beltings, hangings, dog bites and shootings. We saw the prisoners rooms, single cells, torture room and the execution place. It was terrifying what these prisoners had faced before some are transferred to Holland or Germany for execution. During the visit of this site, I was imagining the Africa Transatlantic slave trade but the treatment at Breendonk was too extreme. This is a lifetime memory for me and will forever remember the how people suffered during this unfortunate incident. Finally, I was to glad to know that commandant Schmitt on November 25th 1949 “on single German war criminals stood trial for what had been committed in Breendonk:” he was sentenced to death.
I got back to the hostel about 6: 30pm and conducted an interview with one of the receptionist for my research work in Brussels. Though, most of the day was spent on the visit to the concentration camp but I ended the day with a delicious dinner.