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Artists and Breendonk
Belgium has not been spared the horror of Nazism and its concentration camps.
he fortress of Breendonk is a moving and striking example. It is one of the best conserved camps in Europe.
Breendonk is only a dot on the gruesome map of concentration camps, but one which witnessed the same desire to annihilate the individual, which shared the same objective of enslaving and negating the human person.
etween September 1940 and September 1944, around 3500 prisoners passed through Breendonk. The majesty of the site and its Dantesque appearance make it a symbol that perpetuates the memory of the suffering, the torture and the death of so many victims. Breendonk, although small in comparison with others, was nevertheless a camp that saw Nazi barbarity sink to its vilest depths.
Although the history of Breendonk, the war and the post-war years hardly give cause for optimism, we want to put across a message of hope, like those men who gave humanity the universal declaration of human rights. The defence and respect of these rights. That is our cause.
A place of openness and encounters
The Memorial seeks to embrace others in a quest for openness. It reaches out first of all to those who, in one way or another, have fought for freedom, have stood up to oppression, have suffered, victims of racism and blind fanaticism: war veterans, Resistance fighters, prisoners of war, the concentration camp prisoners, Jewish Resistance fighters and victims of the Shoah. And well beyond, it reaches out to all those who, driven by the same ideal of democracy, find in Breendonk the justification behind their cause.
An educational and pedagogical centre
Every year, 35,000 to 40,000 schoolchildren visit the Memorial. Thanks to the wealth of information they will assimilate in the course of their visit, no child can go away without having formed a precise idea of its history, and of racial and political persecution in particular, thanks to a well structured cooperation with the Jewish Museum of Malines.
A cultural centre
The works of some of Breendonk’s former prisoners are on display in the Memorial and we welcome all cultural events that are coherent with our objectives and that respect our ethics.
Jacques OCHS (1893-1971)
Director of the “Académie des Beaux-Arts” of Liège (Belgium).
Prisoner from December 6th 1940 to februari 20th 1942.
He made charcoal drawings of tens of prisoners, giving us a privileged insight into life at Breendonk through his eyes. He was allowed to draw while he was a prisoner in the Fort and he managed to get some of his drawings out of the Fort secretly.
Willem Pauwels dit WILCHAR (1910- 2005 )
A political poster artist before the war.
Prisoner in Breendonk from 2 April to 27 May 1943.
As soon as he left the camp, he created gouache and Indian ink paintings depicting prisoners in everyday scenes.