Visit to Fort Breendock concentration camp

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Thorlifter, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    #1 Thorlifter, Feb 22, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2014
    What a numbing place to visit. If Breendock affecting me like this, I can't even imagine Auschwitz.

    Here is the entrance to the Fort Breendonk
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    The prisoners built all these concrete posts and placed them
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    This is the toilet that is in the yard when prisoners are first brought in to the yard. It was basically a wooden plank on top of a barrel with a hole in it. They would then stand facing the wall at attention. If they made the slightest move, they were subject to any sort of whipping or beating.
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    We have all seen the bunk beds before. The mattresses are burlap bags with straw and they were infested with bed bugs, fleas, and mites. The prisoners hated to hear the word they used for bed inspection. The prisoners were required to make their mattresses perfectly smooth with square corners, which was almost impossible. Punishment meant no breakfast and 8 hours of non stop labor.
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  2. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    #2 Thorlifter, Feb 22, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2014
    This is the cell they would go to when they were being punished. The guards would wake them at 5:30 and then with a iron bar on the outside, they would rotate the bed up so the prisoner couldn't sit down. The prisoner was required to stand at attention ALL DAY. He couldn't sit or lean on the wall. Prisoners were kept in here for 1 day to months at a time. Sometimes two prisoners would be in the same cell.
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    Sorry for the blurred picture. This is the torture room. To the right out of frame is a coal stove for heating "tools". You can see the hook hanging from the ceiling. Prisoners were handcuffed with their arms behind their back, then the handcuffs were attached to the hook and the prisoners raised up, which was incredibly painful. One man was hung and then the guards forgot about him. He hung for 5 hours and was dead when they remembered. You can see the crescent shape in the floor, that is a shallow trough that leads to a drain for washing out blood, urine, and feces. Prisoners were often tortured for hours until they passed out, then revived and it continued. Also, the door was often left open so all the prisoners could hear the screams.
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    These are the new toilets. Prisoners were allowed to use these facilities one time a day for a total of 1 minute. Toilet paper was not provided.
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    These are the execution poles. People were shot in groups of 10. To the right off camera were the make shift gallows. Prisoners were hung with thick ropes which did not kill them and made for a slow suffocation.
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    These are the new showers that were installed. Prisoners were allowed to bath once a week, sometimes once a month. The prison gave them 1 hour to shower......but that was for the entire camp of 400-450 prisoners. The guards would sometimes use ice cold water or sometimes scalding water.
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  3. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    The cruelty of some members of the human species never ceases to shock me.
     
  4. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Speechless...

    Every concentration camp I have visited just left me speechless. They are a testament to some of the darkest times in the history of humanity.
     
  5. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Shaking my head.....
     
  6. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    didn't know about this one, thanks.

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    The fort of Breendonk is located along the ancient highway Brussels - Antwerp. It is perhaps the only camp which remains totally intact because at first Breendonk was a military fort and the buildings are built using concrete. For the German occupation administration, Breendonk was a "waiting" camp (Auffangslager) designed to receive Jews and political prisoners before their transfer to Germany. The first prisoners arrived on September 20th, 1940. In the beginning, the conditions of life were very difficult but still tolerable. But after the German troops invaded Russia (June 1941), the German SS guards were reinforced by Belgian SS’s and the regime became quickly inhuman. The lack of food became so severe that several prisoners tried to eat grass. Executions by hanging or shooting were common. The cruellest Belgian SS guards were Wijss, De Bodt and Pellemans.

    The prisoners had to live in bunkers built of concrete. These bunkers were very cold and damp and the Nazis provided only two sanitary tubs for over twenty prisoners. Medical care was deficient. Later on, because of the growing crowd, additional wooden sheds were built.

    A total of over 3.500 persons were imprisoned at Breendonk, but the number of prisoners simultaneously present never exceeded 600. The regime was worse than in most other Nazi camps because the number of prisoners to keep watch on and to harass was small. Tortures, beltings, hangings and shootings were common in Breendonk. It is unsure how many prisoners died or were killed in Breendonk but recent research estimates their number at about 300.

    Breendonk had been evacuated a first time on May 6th, 1944 and all the prisoners transferred to Germany. On the following days more members of the resistance were imprisoned in Breendonk. The camp was eventually closed on August 30th, 1944 and all the prisoners transferred to Vught in Holland and later to Germany. The Allied troops arrived at Breendonk on September 3rd 1944. The camp was empty.
    Breendonk Concentration Camp (Belgium)
     
  7. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    #7 Messy1, Feb 26, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2014
    Thanks for the posting! Chilling photos and descriptions! Cannot imagine the horror the victims lived with constantly every day. Deeply disturbing. You would think the guards who were carrying out this punishment would have had to have had something mentally wrong with them treat another human being this way. Not just one person, but hundreds each day were on t he receiving end of this horrific treatment. I would like to believe it took a special type of person to work in these camps, and thankfully that type of person was not common among the German population. A few questions come to mind.

    1-I wonder if there was a high turnover rate at these camps for guards?
    2-Could you choose not to serve in a concentration camp?
    3-I wonder if there was a high suicide rate among ex guards?
     
  8. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for posting, I stay close to Bergen Belsen, I stumbled across it one day after taking some hitch hikers onto the Autobahn to Hamburg, just seeing the name on the plaque gave me the shivers. I would never visit it, such places make my blood run cold. However it is important that such places are preserved to stay the hand of the holocaust deniers. Interesting in the text that the Belgian SS were involved, all peoples are capable of such things so all peoples must be on their guard.
     
  9. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I visited Belsen Bergen a few years ago. So terrible and sad. Shivers up the spine.
     
  10. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    We all have our cross to bear, the British persecuted the Jews too. I can't go to Belsen because it would ( I think) change how I feel about the Germans I know and like. So long as its there its OK.
     
  11. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    #11 Messy1, Feb 26, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2014
    How many of the camps are preserved in Germany? I think it is highly commendable of the German people, and all countries that housed these that the camps were not all destroyed and hidden in an attempt to let history fade into time, but rather preserved.
     
  12. Angels one-five

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    Thanks for sharing this. Absolutely awful and incredibly poignant. Lest we forget.
     
  13. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    I don't know how many, but the Germans in my experience don't hide it, they find it hard to talk about or comprehend (the ones I meet are generations removed from it). Living in Germany it is so prosperous and clean it is hard to imagine it did happen therefore even more essential that these things should be preserved. It is a right of passage in a friendship when they do actually talk about it.
     
  14. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    The two primary places I will visit when I return to Belgium next week will be Normandy beach and Bergen Belsen. I'm excited for both, yet a bit apprehensive also.
     
  15. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    #15 pbehn, Feb 26, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2014
    From Belgium to Normandy you are following (in reverse) the path taken by the Canadians in WW2. There are many monuments on that route and around Normandy a load of historic places, there is a great and poignant museum at Caen which was plastered after D Day. Rouen is a lovely old town well worth seeing near to Arromanches, but be clear that you hate the English there, a certain lady called Joan of Arc met a sticky end in Rouen.

    And BTW Hanover has an Aircraft museum, you pass close to Hanover on the way to Belsen
    http://www.luftfahrtmuseum-hannover.de/flugzeuge

    sorry off topic
     
  16. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Quite a few of them. I have been to Dachau and Belsen Bergen in Germany itself.
     
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