Breendonk is a concentration camp that I had never heard of until this trip. It was virtually empty when we went and you get to explore basically every aspect of the camp. There is a great audio guide that they provide and it tells you a lot about the camp.
From what I learned I would say that this camp was sort of like the first stop. The place where everyone was divided and then sent off to the work or death camps. There are no gas chambers here. It was mainly used to hold political prisoners. I am not saying that life here was good--just from walking through you can tell it was not. However the prisoners were allowed the occasional visit from family members on the outside. What I also gathered from the information provided that, especially towards the end of the war, there were not a lot of Jewish people kept here. As stated it was mainly for political prisoners.
There is a torture room and an execution area. I am not going to post a lot of pictures because I believe that you must go here in order to fully experience the feeling you get when you walk in the main door.
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 that made the photo exhibit at the end unbearable.
However for the sake of showing you some of the camp I will provide some pictures. I took a lot more but I just don't feel right about putting them up.
I think that this camp allows you to see more. I know some people who have been to Auschwitz have said you cannot go into the bunk rooms. At Breendonk you can. As a final note I just want to say that I encourage everyone to visit this place but please keep in mind that it is a different experience and not for the weak-stomached.
The above 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, at the end of the tour there is a room that has maps and facts placed throughout it. In this room there are also a few computers where you can type in a surname and find out if a relative was among those who came to Breendonk.
Labels: 2013, Belgium, History, Travel