This is a series of impressions from the national Memorial site "Fort Breendonk"
. (Sequencing roughly but not exactly in order of the visit.)
It is a Belgian fort, built in the early 1900s that was taken over by the nazis in 1940 to be used as a prison and forced labour camp, also for jews, but mostly for political prisoners and members of the resistance.
A german guard garrison was aided by local collaborators, and the perverse tactic of granting brutal power to some prisoners over the others, was employed also here.
Most prisoners were only passing through this "Auffanglager".
The sinister railroad car outside the exit of the Fort represents the final destination for many of the prisoners: concentration or extermination camps.
A significant number did not survive even the short time they were supposed to be there. Indeed : while mass extinction was not the intent of this camp, many brutal deaths occurred anyway.
Causes of death included starvation, exhaustion, disease, daily violence, interrogation under severe torture and execution. Only some causes were recorded officially.
After the war, the Fort was used for repression of collaborators, which resulted in scenes of similar horror, physical abuse, intimidation and humiliation ("Breendonk II").
One nazi-victim, Paul Levy, called this continuation of violence and revenge by the other side, a blemish on the memory of those who suffered here during the war.
Information and a virtual 360° visit of some of the areas: http://www.breendonk.be/EN/
Further info : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Breendonk
. More extensively (in Dutch) : http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_van_Breendonk
In February 2016 I returned to the site, and added a few short time lapse clips.