The Prisoners of Breendonk: Personal Histories from a World War II Concentration Camp

This absorbing and captivating nonfiction account (with never-before-published photographs) offers readers an in-depth anthropological and historical look into the lives of those who suffered and survived Breendonk concentration camp during the Holocaust of World War II.

Prisoners of Breendonk by James Deem

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Fort Breendonk was built in the early 1900s to protect Antwerp, Belgium, from possible German invasion. Damaged at the start of World War I, it fell into disrepair . . . until the Nazis took it over after their invasion of Belgium in 1940. Never designated an official concentration camp by the SS and instead labeled a “reception” camp where prisoners were held until they were either released or transported, Breendonk was no less brutal. About 3,600 prisoners were held there–just over half of them survived. As one prisoner put it, “I would prefer to spend nineteen months at Buchenwald than nineteen days at Breendonk.”

With access to the camp and its archives and with rare photos and artwork, James M. Deem pieces together the story of the camp by telling the stories of its victims–Jews, communists, resistance fighters, and common criminals–for the first time in an English-language publication. Leon Nolis’s haunting photography of the camp today accompanies the wide range of archival images.

The story of Breendonk is one you will never forget.

About the Author:

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James M. Deem is the author of numerous books for young readers, including 3 NB of Julian Drew, Bodies from the Ice: Melting Glaciers and the Rediscovery of the Past, and Faces From the Past. Mr. Deem lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona.

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