Photos: Fort Breendonk ExteriorClick on a thumbnail image to view the full photograph.
Gate to the National Memorial of Fort Breendonk in Willebroek, Belgium. Entrance to Fort Breendonk. The fort was begun in 1906 as part of a defensive ring protecting Antwerp. A moat was dug around the fort and the earth used to cover many of the original buildings. View of the moat. During the Nazi occupation, an earthen wall was built around the moat to cut off views of the fort from the outside. View of the fort from inside the moat. Many of the structures of the original fort ware covered with earth. The Nazis forced laborers to remove over 250,000 cubic meters of soil from the fort to create a wall around the moat. Fort exterior. Fort exterior. Fort exterior. Fort exterior with view of moat and earthen wall. These carts were used to remove the earth covering the original fort buildings. They were pushed along a narrow gauge track by hand. Bridge. A sign posted by the bridge notes: "Remnants of a wooden bridge, built by order of the SS in 1942. This bridge was used until 1944 to help the prisoners remove the earth (about 250,000 tons) that covered the Fort. With great difficulty they had to break up the earth with shovels and pickaxes and load into dumpers. As a result of this extremely hard and dangerous work the prisoners were exhausted and often suffered injuries." Fort exterior. Detail of exterior wall. Courtyard on the east side of the fort. View into the courtyard on the west side of the fort. The wooden barracks for Jewish prisoners were built in the west courtyard. Small windows of the Jewish barracks. Window detail with barbed wire. Window detail with barbed wire. Window detail with barbed wire. Door to wooden building which housed the Jewish prisoners. The museum is located in a building originally built as an infirmary. The infirmary was little used as camp officials had "forbidden" illness. Window detail with barbed wire. View through the passage from the west courtyard to the east courtyard. Area for execution by firing squad. As many as three prisoners at one time were hanged from the gallows located near the execution posts. Approximately 200 prisoners were executed at Fort Breendonk. Cattle wagon. Description posted on the wagon: "Political prisoners were usually deported by the Nazis to camps and prisons in Central and Eastern Europe in cattle wagons such as this one. It was offered to the National Belgian Railway Company as war damage and then given to the Breendonk Memorial. Sixty to one hundred prisoners were squeezed together in each wagon. They had to endure an horrifying journey without food, without drink, without air and without light. This would not be the end of their ordeal." Cattle wagon. Detail of cattle wagon.
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A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 2005.