The Friends

On May 8, 2015, exactly 70 years after the end of World War II, a group of volunteers founded a new non-profit association:  Friends of the Fortress of Breendonk.  This association seeks to assist the National Memorial of the Fort of Breendonk in meeting its goals and to help to conserve and promote the unique historic site of Breendonk, one of the best preserved nazi-camps in Europe.

To support or to learn more about the activities of the Association or to make a donation, please contact us:

The Friends of the Fortress of Breendonk (association without lucrative purpose)
Brandstraat 57
B-2830 Willebroek
Province of Antwerp
Telephone: 32-3-860 75 27
IBAN: BE47 9731 3584 3480

The Prisoners of Breendonk

For an extensive portrait of this camp and some of the people who were held prisoner here, we recommend the book 'The prisoners of Breendonk' by American author James M. Deem:

"Breendonk, just outside of Antwerp in Belgium, was one of the smaller and lesser-known concentration camps, but the experiences of those who lived and died there are no less tragic for that. Deem traces the camp through many of its inhabitants, describing with meticulous care Breendonk’s emergence as a repository for Belgian Jews, for refugee Jews fleeing Germany, and for troublesome or Nazi-unfriendly Belgians; as the war went on, the camp also became a way station for prisoners who were than transported east en masse to concentration camps such as Mauthausen or Auschwitz-Birkenau. While this is not the oral history the subtitle might suggest, the book keeps individuals at the fore, describing their families and origins, resisting the dehumanization the camp demanded while still telling heartbreaking tales of torture, atrocities, and murder. The thoroughness here is an act of testimony and also a recognition of complexities—that Jewish Zugführers, heads of the barracks rooms, tortured and abused other Jews, that gentile resistance fighters were sometimes also anti-Semites, that some thieves were heroes—and Deem follows those who figure large in the Breendonk story to the sometimes savagely bitter end, chronicling the destinies of transports carrying Breendonk prisoners. The result is startlingly illuminating: the relevant factors and factions are all clearly laid out in context, and the tight focus on Breendonk means the horror remains at a comprehensible scale while still being part of a cataclysmic larger whole. Additional information is plentiful and well placed, with a glossary up front and maps throughout, while period images from an imprisoned artist, Nazi photographs, and other sources interweave with contemporary black and white photography. An afterword listing the fates of many prisoners and their families, source notes, a detailed bibliography and list of archival materials, and an index are included."

Bulletin of the Center of Children's Books, December 2015, Deborah Stevenson  |  More reviews  |  Order your copy