Fort of Breendonk, Brussels, Belgium

A badly planned day tour from Brussels resulted in my missing the visit to Fort of Breendonk. It was a good opportunity for me to see the concentration camp of the Germans.Breendonk was a “waiting” camp designed to receive Jews and political prisoners before their transfer to Germany. The first prisoners arrived on September 20th, 1940. Initially the conditions of life were very difficult but still tolerable. But after the German troops invaded Russia (June 1941), the German guards were reinforced by Belgian guards and the treatment was inhuman. The lack of food became so severe that several prisoners tried to eat grass. Executions by hanging or shooting were common.

From what I read, the prisoners had to live in bunkers built of concrete which were always very cold and damp. They were provided only two sanitary tubs for over twenty prisoners. Medical care was deficient. 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.

The fort is open throughout the year except on two days, Jan 1st and Dec 25th. Since my daughters had covered World War lessons in their History subjects, I thought it a great opportunity to show them the concentration camp. Later seeing the pics of torture rooms in sites I felt it was okay to miss it. We reached the fort and to our disappointment then, found it closed. None the sites we referred mentioned its closure. As we stood at the closed gate the official there came out to inform us that it has been closed for maintenance for three days. “You could have called up once before coming”, he said. He sounded a little surprised when he came to know we were tourists from India.

When I saw the Thursday Challenge theme: DISTANT (Things Photographed from Far Away), I was reminded how I got the photograph of this fort from far away!


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28 Responses

  1. TexWisGirl says:

    a very somber part of history.

  2. Interesting piece of history.

  3. George says:

    It's too bad the fort was closed when you got there, but it has such a horrific history that I'm not sure I would be eager to go there.

  4. Sylvia K says:

    I saw newsreels of all of this sort of thing when I was a very young girl and remember having nightmares about it.

  5. Red Handed says:

    I love this place!
    went there last year!

  6. Violet N. says:

    What a grim place. Sad you didn't get to tour it. You did get a distant photo though.

    Violet N.

  7. TTS says:

    very interesting place! nice post.

  8. Nikhil says:

    These facts can definitely come in handy when you get to visit such places. 🙂

  9. Hari OM
    Worthwhile visit – a far memory but one never to be forgotten… YAM xx

  10. World War II: Reminder of the torture and inhuman treatment of prisoners in German concentration camps !

  11. Awful place, nice enough to photographed though.

  12. Somber part of history.GOOD PHOTO8

  13. Gattina says:

    I have never been there and certainly won't go !

  14. Carver says:

    Tragic time in history. Good shots.

  15. Places such as this are sad reminders of how cruel humans can be to one another. True, this is a part of history, but we should never forget that every day around the world humans continue to torture others.

  16. I'm glad you were able to at least see this much. Such a rough time in history but must never be forgotten.

    Thank you for your visit and comment on my 'distant' post.


  17. The tortures of the past can haunt us even today and so it kind of was good to miss it but then it would have been a real educational visit for your kidos.

  18. I remember seeing this place on the Brussels bus tour. But did not go inside since it was closed I guess (for 1st Jan). Concentration Camps, WW2 and their history is something that we can keep reading/seeing and never get bored of! But at the same time, heart wrenching too!

  19. Prasad Np says:

    a sad and painful era in history of not just Europe but the whole world.

  20. Wow….its so good to see something on Belgium where I had been for years. Refreshing memories

  21. Anita says:

    Proves that if we want something, we'll get it even from far away! 🙂 Great you managed the pics, Indrani 🙂 Nice to know about Belgium. Wanna visit!

  22. you gave a bit of history class today ! nice post as usual ! 🙂

  23. What a majestic fort.

  24. A silent witness to the cruelty of man…

    Good that you were not able to enter it.. I would not ever want to visit such a place.

  25. Seeta says:

    Wow… this is a great way for your kids to learn.. you know each time I hear/read the word concentration camps, I am reminded of the movie Casablanca… still brings me to tears, that movie 🙁

  26. Namrota says:

    A part of history that witnessed torture. I don't whether to say good you missed or should I say 'bad luck'.

    Nonetheless, a good capture.

  27. When we visit such places with intense history behind, we can feel sadness, tears and cry of prisoners brought here.

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