Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Breendonk Nazi Concentration Camp - June 12

Today we went to the German World War II concentration camp called Breendonk.  Our tour guide was very descriptive to the events that occurred between 1940-1944.  Breendonk was originally built in the early 1900s as a Belgium fort once they gained their independence.  However, the Germans took over the fort once they invaded Belgium.

Breendonk housed any member of the German resistance as well as members of the Jewish community.  Breendonk was different than other German concentration camps in that its primary purpose was a workers prison rather than extermination camp.  In traditional concentration camps, captives were killed within 24 hours of being in the camp.  In this prison, captives were worked tirelessly from 6 am to 6 pm everyday.  They were given one outfit upon arrival and were given little food, no showers, and absolutely no basic needs.  The German army also crossed the lines of humanity and tortured and killed captives here.  When they were killed, it was due to disease, hunger, hanging, or by shooting squads.

The only solace about this awful biography is that the general in charge of this horror-filled prison was executed in 1949.  While it was truly sad and maddening to see what other human beings are capable to do to one another, I am glad that I went and will probably remember this for the rest of my life.