Disclaimer : This has pictures and details that may not be for everyone. This is a look into the past of the Holocaust. I feel it is important to share our experience with seeing what we did. In high school we were to read Anne Frank, Maus and more. We had a survivor come and talk to us. I never thought I would have the opportunity to visit these camps that were talked about. All that was learned and read about in text books could never prepare me for being there myself.
Fort Breendock is located just outside of Antwerp. Coming down the highway you are not sure what to expect. Our navigation took us the back way in. I don’t suggest that. Stay on the main highway you well get there quicker and easier. Not a fan of potholes.
Fort Breendonk at first glance is intimidating and gigantic. You enter with an interesting sign. We weren’t sure what to make of it other than not to touch the barbed wire. Which this place is full of. When you enter you will go over the mote. Which makes this concentration camp unique.
As we entered through the main passage (follow the arrows not so conveniently placed) to guide yourself through the compound. You see horrific pictures. All of which my boys kept head down until we told them it was ok to look. You enter a room that tells you of the SS soldiers and what they did at the camp. From there you enter the court yard. With a bunch more of the compound is in your view. You really don’t comprehend how big it is until you walk the perimeter. Breendonk was guarded by German and Flemish SS Soldiers. This is also one of the deadliest camps around. If you tried to escape, could no longer work or they chose they would drown you in the mote. You could just feel the evil here. You can see the scratch marks long left by the prisoners in the wood. You could see in one set of beds where it looks like they kept track of the days. That is the only assumption that could be made. The emotions you feel are that of a roller coaster. You feel angry, sad, sickened. Here are some of the milder pictures we have. They are of the entrance way, the mote, the bathroom, bunk room and passage ways.
It was a once in a life time experience. We learned history. We learned more of the horrific Hitler era. My kids have a better understanding of how lucky they are to live in a time where they are free to be who they want to be. They also understand other countries don’t get to live like they do. Part of us going was to teach and let my children understand this part of history. I do not recommend letting your children near the gallows, firing range or the crematorium. They are the hardest parts of this trip. While we explained them in the most broken down terms to our children. We left out the gruesome parts until they are older and ask more able of understanding. I do believe if you are in Europe you owe it to your children if mature enough to let them experience it. If you don’t feel your children are capable of understanding find a babysitter and go.