Fort Breendonk: A Place of Sorrow

Fort Breendonk: A Place of Sorrow

One of the historical sites we went to was Fort Breendonk, located outside of Antwerp in Belgium. This place, as the name suggests, was used as a military fort during wars until it was captured by the Nazis and turned into a concentration camp.

There is a great audio guide that they provide and it tells you a lot about the camp, and from what I learned, this camp was the ‘transit camp’ where everyone was divided and then sent off to the work or death camps. There are no gas chambers here and it was mainly used to hold political prisoners.

While you get pretty much full access to every chilled room, dark hallway and muddy corner of the grounds, I chose not to take a lot of pictures. The things you see, sit with you and it is hard to erase images from your mind once you see this place. There is also a mini museum type exhibition at the end which by that point I couldn’t stomach anymore and while it looked informative I had to forgo that section and step outside. 

This place took an emotional toll on me, more so than the Anne Frank house did. After walking past some of the rooms and hearing about what happened here I started to get a sickening feeling in my stomach and I was just overcome with a very deep sadness which I think most people feel when they walk through a place like this.

The above picture is a room near the beginning of the camp, it has all of the camps listed around the top. The rest of the wall is covered in names. I am not sure if they are the names of the people that came to Breendonk or the names of all the people who died in all the camps.
 
In addition to the audio guide you are provided and short films you see in some of the rooms, there is also a room full of maps and computers where you can type in the last name of a family member to see if they were held at the Breendonk Camp. It is very important to learn about this period of history so that the suffering of these people is not forgotten, the sacrifice that many people made is not forgotten and that we can prevent this atrocity from happening again.
 

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