Greg and I are history buffs, so we always look forward to doing a little sightseeing at the end of our Antiques Buying Trips in Europe. We are especially interested in World War II historical sites, as both of our grandfathers landed on the beaches in Normandy. Although we’ve visited quite a few WWII Nazi concentration camps, the Nazi work camp in Breendonk, Belgium, may be the most horrendous that we’ve seen.
What makes this Nazi concentration camp in Breendonk so harrowing is that it is so completely intact. Many concentration camps in Germany were at least in part destroyed immediately after WWII, but this camp seems as if the Germans just left a few hours ago. The Nazi mural painted on the wall in the cafeteria is still there. The three-tier bunks are still there, where 50 men per room were housed together in damp and freezing conditions. The gallows, firing range, and SS torture chamber are still, hauntingly, there.
Breendonk is considered one of the worst Nazi camps in all of Europe, as the conditions there were so incredibly harsh and cruel. There was a great pit in the middle of the camp where prisoners were allowed to relieve themselves, all at the same time, only twice per day. The prisoners were allowed five minutes to take care of business, but most left after less than a minute for fear of beatings and torture from the guards. The prisoners had to survive on starvation rations while doing forced hard labor for eight to twelve hours per day. Less than 10% of the 4,000 inmates that were brought to Breendonk survived the war.
While it is very disturbing to visit Nazi concentration camps, it is also a very moving, emotional experience. World War II is part of our collective world history, and it’s something we think everyone should experience at least once.
Stay tuned for our next Antiques Buying Trip video, as we’ll visit a chateau filled with antique furniture before heading back to the US.
Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg. Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with Aimee on Google+ or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!