Excursion

Tour of Breendonk Prison Camp

Travel by coach to the outskirts of Antwerp to tour one of Europe's best-preserved prison camps. This chilling venue shows how even Belgium was not spared the horror and brutality of the Nazi concentration camp program.           

Complimentary
  • Code
    ANR-03
  • Level
    Moderate
  • Walking Type
    Medium
  • Activity Type
    Cultural
  • Age
    All ages
  • Duration
    3.5 Hours
Built in 1909 on the site of an ancient Roman fort, Fort Breendonk was intended as part of the port of Antwerp's outer defensive ring. The moated fortress ended up being surrendered to German hands after only a seven-day siege early in WW1. 

At the start of WW2, Belgium's King Leopold III brought Breendonk back into service as headquarters for the Flemish command. But, once again, the fortress' fortunes were not rosy – it was soon abandoned in the face of Germany's relentless advance.

By this point militarily obsolete, the fort was used by the Nazis for darker purposes: the SS established it as a prison camp. Some 3,500 reluctant guests – dissidents, freedom fighters, Jews in transit to Nazi death camps elsewhere – were subjected to the “Hell of Breendonk.” Thanks to this life of forced labor, vicious beatings and wanton executions, half of them never left.

After Liberation in 1944, the allies operated Breendonk as an internment camp for Flemish collaborators. Today, it serves as a national museum – and a vivid, well-preserved reminder of the horrors of war. 

In tribute to those whose lives were so darkened here, a commemorative floral crown will be placed on a monument sacred to Breendonk's victims during your two-hour guided tour, led by a local historian. 
  Important Notes:
This tour's activity level is considered "Moderate" and includes about 800 yards of walking over surfaces that are at times uneven(cobblestones and pebbles). Weather in the Low Countries can change rapidly, so bring along an umbrella and sunscreen.