Fort Breendonk Belgium – German Atrocities – 1940-1945

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This archive, which was in a very bad condition and requested to be almost entirely recoded and retyped, is an Official File. I have spent several weeks on this report to have it online with missing a single coma. Of course I asked many for help. Of course many proposed to help me and of course no one showed up when I started. Anyway ! I publish this because I don’t want the peoples – especially the idiotic, brainless and uneducated today generation to get misinformed about what happened in this Bunker during the occupation. This foreword will also explain why the Belgian population refused to be part of the European Union (aka Hitler’s 4th Reich). File : Report on Atrocities committed by the Germans against the Civilian Population in Belgium. Brig Gen R. McCLure, Chief PWD SHAEF (Main) (For Mr. C. D. Jackson), From : Brigadier A. C. Neville, BGS (P&W), Main HQ, 21st Army Group

This report was originally published in December 1944 by the Headquarters of the 21st Army Group under the tittle of Report on German Atrocities. It has now been decided to publish that part of the original report which deal with atrocities committed by the Germans against the civilian population in Belgium. Since the original report was published certain additional information regarding German atrocities against the civilian population has become available and has been included in this edition.

Willebroek-Fort-de-Breendonk

The following abbreviations occur in the report :

SS – Schutz Staffel (Originally mean bodyguards, now signifies Nazi Party troops)
SD – Sicherheitsdienst (German Security Service)
SP – Sicherheitspolizei (German Security Police)
GFP – Geheime Feldpolizei (German Field Police)
VNV – Vlaamish Nationaal Verbond (Belgian (Vlaamishe) pro-German movement)
MNB – Mouvement National Belge (Belgian Resistance Movement)


Introduction

(1) The object of this report is to collect evidence of atrocities committed by the Germans against the civilian population in Belgium. It should be remembered that this report cannot be regarded as exhaustive. It merely summarizes the evidence which has been collected by a small number of officers over a period of 3 weeks.

(2) Atrocities were committed against the civilians by : (a) the German Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei) of which the Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei) forms part; (b) Flemish and Walloon SS in Belgium; (c) the Secret Field Police (Geheime Feldpolizei), which forms part of the German Army; (d) the German Army guards at concentration camps.

(3) The first thing that strikes one when mentioning German atrocities is the skepticism of the British troops and the British civilians. The idea of torture and mutilation is so abhorrent to the British mind that it is not easy to believe that practices associated with say the Spanish Inquisition could be carried out in the twentieth century by Europeans. This report produces evidences of German atrocities. Whilst it is not easy to find people who bear signs of mutilation it must be remembered that the most mutilated people were killed or died or were taken off to Germany. Nevertheless, several people have been found who carry signs of mutilation, their mutilated bodies have been examined and their stories obtained. These stories have been cross-checked as far as possible. Despite the fact that many of the people questioned were quiet unknown to each other their stories all bear a striking similarity as to the treatment civilian prisoners received in the hands of the Germans. Many of these stories would have not been obtained if two train-loads of prisoners had been taken to German from Brussels and Antwerp at the beginning of September 1944. Owing to sabotage of the engines, the damage to the tracks and the speed of the Allies advance the Germans were compelled to leave these prisoners behind. A Flemish member of the German Security Police who is now in the hands of the Belgian Police has given details of how civilian prisoners were ill-treated, which confirms the story of the prisoners. Some accounts of atrocities cannot however be substantiated or have been found to be exaggerated. No cognizance has been taken of such stories.

(4) People who were imprisoned and ill-treated included : (a) Jews; (b) Political prisoners especially those who had or were suspected to have socialistic or communistic tendencies; (c) People who were known or suspected having pro-ally sympathies; (d) People who were working against or suspected working against the Germans e.g. people who assisted Airmen to escape or belonged to a Belgian underground movement; (e) People who had been denounced to the Germans by their personal enemies usually by anonymous letter (in many cases these people belonged to no political or patriotic party and are unable to say why they were imprisoned and (f) Hostages.

The-Bastards-Staff-Breendonk

(L to R) SS Untersturmfuhrer Lais, SS Hautpscharfuhrer Muller, SS Sturmbannfuhrer Schmitt, SS Untersturmfuhrer Wilmes Franz, SS Untersturmfuhrer Prauss Arthur.

(5) Places of imprisonment and/or torture or execution : (a) Breendonk, Malines : Concentration Camp originally for Jews only. Prisoners were tortured and executed there. (b) Brussels 1, Place Rouppe Gare du Midi : Political prisoners interrogated by Flemish and Walloon SS. (c) Brussels 2, Avenue Louise 453 (later moved to 349) Gestapo Headquarters. Suspects interrogated and tortured. (d) Brussels 3, Prison de St Gilles, Avenue Dupectiaux. A certain amount of political prisoners carried out. (e) Brussels 4, Rue Traversière. Headquarters Secret Field Police. (f) Brussels 5, Caserne St Anne (Laeken). Political prisoners were tortured. (g) Brussels 6, Tir National. Where prisoners were shot. (h) Citadelle de Namur. For political prisoners. (i) Charleroi 1, Prison. Political prisoners were tortured. (j) Charleroi 2, Caserne Tresignies. Political prisoners were tortured. (k) Oostracher, Ghent. Place where the Gestapo tortured and carried out executions. (l) Ecole Militaire Limbourg, Bourg Léopold. Political prisoners where interrogated and tortured by Flemish and Walloon SS. (m) Forteresse de Huy, Liège. (n) Antwerp – 1, Prison. Political prisoners were held and tortured. (o) Antwerp – 2, 22 Avenue Reine Elisabeth. Gestapo Headquarters. (p) Liège – 1, The Citadelle. Political prisoners and partisans were tortured and shot. (q) Liège – 2, Lycée Boulevard d’Avroy. Gestapo Headquarters. (r) Liège – 3, Hotel Britannique. Headquarters Secret Field Police.

The above list is of course not exhaustive as many other places of imprisonment and torture existed. Of the above places, two will be described in this report namely Breendonk Concentration Camp and the Tir National.

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(6) Breendonk Concentration Camp

General : This was originally a fort built as part of the outer defenses of Antwerp. It is situated on the main Brussels – Antwerp road about 20 KM from Brussels and 22 KM from Antwerp. The fort is a squat Grey building surrounded by a wide moat, over which runs a causeway which is the only entrance. Most of the buildings were originally covered with earth in order to provide additional protection for the garrison and to camouflage the fort. The Germans made the prisoners remove the earthen banks and at the time of the liberation most of the earth had been removed. The fort had been allowed to fall into disuse by the Belgians after 1914-1918 War. It was however occupied by the Belgian GHQ for a few days when the Germans invaded the country in May 1940. At first the fort was used as a Concentration Camp for Jews but after a short while every kind of prisoner was incarcerated there, although by and large they were mainly political prisoners.

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(7) Accommodation for Prisoners : This consisted of : (a) Eleven rooms, each measuring approximately 42 feet long, 21 feet wide and 13 feet high, with a door at one end and at the other end 2 windows which were painted over with blue paint. The door had a lock and a heavy iron bar which was placed in position on the outside when the prisoners occupied the rooms. The windows were kept open all day. Part of the floors were stone and part of them wood. Each of the rooms contains a stove which was lit during the winter at 1700 hours. 48 prisoners were accommodated in each room in triple decked bunks. There were also a few small tables and stools in each room in the small space which was not occupied by the bunks. In addition, each room contained 1 bucket for use as a night latrine. A total of 528 prisoners could be held in these rooms.

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(b) 4 huts measuring approximately 36 feet long by 18 feet broad and 8 feet high were build especially for Jewish Prisoners. These are built of wood and match-boarding, being somewhat similar to the rooms described above, except that the windows are smaller. All the huts are covered with creosote, which make them very dark. They contain no stove or any form of heating. They were furnished with triple decked bunks, a few small tables and stools and 1 bucket per hut for use as a night latrine. One of these huts was used as a workshop. 48 Jews were imprisoned in each of the other 3, the maximum number being 144. (c) 32 brick cells built by the Germans in 2 of the rooms of the fort. These cells are 1,95 Meters (6ft-5ins) by 1,37 Meters (4ft-6ins) wide. The top of each cell is enclosed by an iron grill which is about 8 ft from the ground. All the doors are of wood, some of which were reinforced by iron bars whilst other have a large iron grill. The plain wooden doors have small trap-doors so that the warders could look into the cells and through which the prisoners’ food was passed. At the foot of each of the doors which have a large iron grill is a small trap-door for passing food to the prisoners. The cells contained a wooden board which served as a bed. This board was kept upright during the day by means of an iron bar which was operated from the outside of the cell. Each cell contained also a bucket which was used as latrine. One of these cells had a pair of shackles concreted into the back wall.

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(d) There are 6 dark cells into which no daylight can penetrate. These cells have white washed walls and stone floors. They each contain a plank bed which was kept against the wall during the day or removed from the cell. In addition there was a bucket for a latrine. (c) It will be noted that the camp had accommodation for 710 prisoners. (e) All of the above rooms and cells were lit by electricity, but that was only used by inspection by the guards.

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The Master of the Place : SS Sturmbannfuhrer Phillip Schmitt and his dog called Lump. Schmidt will be put on the wall in 1950 and executed.

(8) The Germans installed an up-to-date kitchen, very good showers and also latrines for the prisoners. There was also an infirmary.

(9) The Gas Chamber : There are 2 rooms which each shaped like a horse-shoe, one of which is known as the Gas Chamber. One enters each of the rooms through 2 steel doors. Neither has windows but each has ventilation shafts and a coke stove. Popular rumor is that the Germans used to gas prisoners in the Gas Chamber by means of the fumes from the coke stove. No proof of this has however been obtained. The rooms were designed as gas-proof chambers after the last war. Some prisoners states that the rooms known as Gas Chambers was used as a mortuary and sometimes contained up to 20 bodies.

(10) The Torture Chamber : This is a circular shaped room without windows and a stone floor with a shallow gutter across the width which serves as a drain. In the room is a coke stove, a bed and a table. It is lighted by electricity and in addition there is a electric point similar to that used for an electric fire. There are 3 marks in the wall and ceiling where a pulley was installed by the Germans. This pulley was dismantled by the Germans before they fled and the holles filled up with cement.

(11) The Camp Staff : The Camp was commanded by a German SS Major. Under his command were 2 or 3 SS Lieutenants, a small number of German SS guards and 6 to 8 Flemish SS. This formed the permanent staff. Their names and other particulars are shown bellow this report. There was also a detachment of the Wehrmacht attached to the group for guard duties. The number of Wehrmacht troops was approximately 50, but they were constantly changed. Most of the personnel lived in the camp; at first in the camp itself and later in wood huts which were constructed near the entrance. Most of the Officers and NCOs were billeted in houses near the fort. Madame Verdickt who lives in a small house near the entrance to the camp had some Officers and NCOs billeted on her. Bellow is a paraphrase of a statement which Madame Verdickt has made to the Belgian authorities. It should be noted that although a total of approximately 7 women prisoners were held at different times there were no wardresses.

(12) In addition a certain number of civilians who lived out of camp were employed; one was a cook, another a gardener and another in looking after the live-stock which belonged to the garrison. In addition a local blacksmith who was in the SS was employed to do general repair work at the camp. This man made some of the instruments of torture. Two other civilians were also employed at the camp from time to time. An electrician from the Village of Breendonk who locked after the electricity supply and a general contractor. The names and particulars of all civilians referred to the above are shown bellow.

Organization of the Camp

(13) Each room was in charge of a prisoner who was made responsible for the discipline and the cleanliness of the room. Prisoners made in charge of rooms were nearly always German Jews. Apart from this Jewish prisoners were generally kept quiet separate from the other prisoners.

(14) Some of the SS guards were employed indoors, whilst some were employed outside. All the guards were armed and they generally carried whips or crops which they rarely hesitated to use. The Wehrmacht troops attached for guard duties did not come into contact much with the prisoners.

(15) All orders were given in German. Prisoners had to understand or take the consequences. Prisoners were only allowed to speak to the guards if they required anything. If they tried to indulge into normal conversation they were invariably punished.

(16) Entry into the Camp : Prisoners were arrested by the Gestapo or the Secret Police and taken first to the Police HQ. Sometimes they were interrogated and beaten up there but this was not an invariable rule. Sometimes they were charged with an offense against the Germans and sometimes they were not. Quite a number of prisoners were sent to the camp from other prisons. On entering the camp prisoners were made to stand strictly at attention inside the entrance of the fort or in the prison yard. They were usually made to stand with their faces against a wall. Sometimes they were kept standing for a short while, but more often it was for several hours. During this time they were not allowed to move or go to the lavatory. If one wanted to go to the lavatory he relieved himself were he stood and was punished by the guards for uncleanliness. The batch of prisoners which entered with Antoine Abbeloos from 627 Chaussée de Mons, Anderlecht, Brussels, on June 20 1941, was kept at attention for 48 hours. They were not allowed to move and were not given any food or water. They collapsed like flies with heat, thirst fatigue and whereupon they were revived by the guards kicking them and made to stand at attention again. After this period of standing prisoners were taken to their rooms or cells.

(17) Shortly after this they had to hand in their clothes and all their personal belongings and received dilapidated prison uniform instead. This prison uniform consisted of old Belgian Army uniforms, a pullover or a shirt a belt and a pair of sabots. Purposely the sabots were often to small whilst if was often forbidden to wear the cap – it had to be carried in the belt. Each uniform had sewn on it the prisoner’s number and the distinguishing mark showing the class the prisoner belonged to. Some of these uniforms can be still seen in the fort. In addition each prisoner was given a towel – no soap was issued. Prisoners who were locked up in the rooms were given 2 or 3 thin blanket and a palliasse. Prisoners who were locked up in the cells were not given, as a rule, any form of bed covering.

(18) The prisoners then had their heads shaved. Any prisoner who had a mustache or beard had it shaved off. Prisoners had a brief medical inspection during which they were made to stand in the prison yard no matter what the weather was like.

(19) Allotment of Prisoners to Rooms or Cells : The majority of prisoners lived in the barrack rooms, but those who were considered to be ‘more dangerous’ were kept in the cells, whilst the ‘most dangerous’ type of prisoners were locked up the dark cells. Quite often the prisoners in the cells or dark cells had handcuffs or shackles on the whole time they were there. The prisoners who was allotted to the cells which has the shackles cemented into the wall was made to eat his meals on all fours owing to the fact that the food was placed on the edge of the trap-door in the cell door and he was not allowed to lift it into the cell.

(20) Prisoners who were locked up in the cells were only allowed out under escort to empty their latrine buckets which took a matter of 4 or 5 minutes daily. They were allowed no exercise. Prisoners held in the dark cells had a black hood put over their heads before they left their cells on this daily duty. This prevented other prisoners seeing who they were and formed another punishment.

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(21) Food : From the opening of the camp in 1940 until sometime in 1944, the food was very bad and quite insufficient. It was quite common for a prisoners to loose 3 or 4 stones after being in the camp for 3 months. According to the statements made by Moens, the daily ration per prisoner was originally : (Grammes and Equivalent in ounce) Bread – 175 – 6.125; Jam – 20 – 0.7; Sugar – 30 – 1.05; Butter/Margarine – 30 – 1.05; Cheese (per 2 days) 10 – 0.175; Meat with Bone – 30 – 0.35 (without bone) 20 – 0.7.

The total ration shown about 9.8 ounces per man. The prisoners however did receive in addition 1 litre (1.75 L Imperial Pint) of watery soup per day and 2 mugs of ersatz coffee. After some time the bread ration was increased to 250 grammes per day which is equivalent to 8.75 ounces making the total ration exclusive of soup 12.425 ounces per man. The Belgian Red Cross made every effort to supplement the rations, but only a fraction of the goods they supplied reached the prisoners. From 1943, a Belgian charity, the Foyer Leopold III, delivered all kinds of food and, for the first time, the prisoners rations improved although the prisoners only received a portion of what was delivered. In 1944 the food improved a great deal as the ration of bread was increased by 500 grammes per day (17.5 ounces) and 1000 grammes (2.2 ounces) of potatoes were authorized to be issued. The prisoners however rarely their full rations. They rarely received any meat except perhaps occasionally in the soup.

(22) In the early days prisoners were allowed to receive parcels of food etc, from outside, but this privilege was stopped on the grounds that communistic literature was being smuggled into the fort and that the parcel contained rationed foods which must have been bought on the Black Market.

(23) There were 3 meals a day : These meals which consisted of the following : (a) Breakfast : which took place between 0600 and 0730 depending on the time of the year. A slice of dry bread and a mug of ersatz coffee; (b) Midday Meal : took place anytime between 1100 and 1400 and consisted of a bowl of watery soup. The only thing which the prisoners say in its favor is that it was very hot. (c) Supper : which took place at 1900 consisted of a piece of bread, sometimes a small piece of butter or margarine or a the spoon of jam. Occasionally a potato or a salted sardine was also issued. A mug of ersatz coffee was also issued.

(24) Clothing, Mail etc : Parcels of clothing which were sent to the prisoners by their families or their friends were confiscated as a rule. Sometimes, however they were delivered to the prisoners. Normally, clothing were issued to the prisoners when that which they were wearing was completely unfit for further uses.

(25) As a rule, only non-political prisoners were allowed to write or receive letters and this privilege was only granted occasionally. The civilian employees and sometimes the guards did smuggle letters in and out of the fort.

(26) Smoking was not allowed. Prisoners found with tobacco were punished. Occasionally, however, the head men of the rooms were given one cigarette which they had to smoke immediately.

(27) All prisoners were made to pass trough the shower once a week. Very rarely was soap provided and the prisoners were rarely given time to dry themselves and accordingly had to put their clothes whilst still wet.

(28) There was no chaplain attached to the camp. It is not known whether or not a German chaplain was present at all executions. It is understood that one was in attendance on some of these occasions.

(29) Medical Inspection : There was no resident medical officer on the staff but only a medical orderly. The medical orderlies who it is stated belonged to the Wehrmacht changed periodically. They varied tremendously – some were good whilst some were very bad, one in particular used to beat the patients. An Austrian Jewish doctor called Singer was imprisoned in the camp from March 1941 until March 1944 when he was transferred to another prison. Shortly after he entered the camp he was put to work in the infirmary where he remained for 18 months. This doctor was under the orders of the medical orderly and was not given a free hand to practice medicine. It was the medical orderly or one of the camp staff who really decided the medical condition of a prisoner. All prisoners were medically examined by a visiting German army doctor once a month, everyone being inspected at the same time. For this inspection the Commandant ordered the prisoners to be lined up in the courtyard completely naked whatever the time of the year or weather. One of the visiting medical officer, Maj Pohl, of the Wehrmacht was very sympathetic toward the prisoners and endeavored to improve the conditions of the camp. Another Wehrmacht medical officer, Kochling, was completely indifferent to their fate. It appears that the medical inspections for all the prisoners who sometimes numbered over 600, often only took little over an hour. The camp authorities did take pains to prevent serious infectious deceases or epidemics from breaking out – hence the weekly bath. But often scanty attention was paid to cuts, wounds an scares on the prisoners, bodies brought about the ill-treatment and under-nourishment. Normally the infirmary contained about 40 to 50 sick prisoners but on one occasion at least it held over 150 patients. Prisoners there received no extra food.

(30) A Typical Day for a Prisoner Detained in one of the Barrack Rooms : At reveille, which was normally at 0600, the prisoners had to spring out of their beds. Anyone who was found in bed after reveille was lashed by the guards. Prisoners in the barrack rooms had to form up outside their rooms and stand strictly at attention. The head man of the room then reported the room to the guard. Any prisoner who was slow in getting out of bed was lashed by one of the guard and often struck by the head man of the room. As so many of the prisoners were in a very weak of health, or were old or infirm (some being as hold as 70 years of age) they often did not move with the elasticity the Germans demanded and as a result were beaten without mercy. After the prisoners had been counted they washed naked to the waist in the ablutions benches in the corridors. They were not provided with soap. They were allowed about 2 minutes for washing. After this they had to clean up their rooms and make their beds. All beds had to be made in the German army fashion with the blankets folded on top of the palliasses. Great importance was attached to the making of beds and no breakfast was issued until the guards were satisfied with them. If there were not considered satisfactory, the guards used to show their displeasure by trashing the prisoners.

(31) The prisoners were escorted to the lavatory where they were allowed to remain for 2 minutes. This was often the only time during the day when they were allowed to use the lavatory. As many of the prisoners had dysentery they wished to remain more time in the lavatory for more than 2 minutes but they were not permitted to do so. Anyone who was considered to be loitering was beaten. Incidentally no toilet paper was provided.

(32) The prisoners were then put to work. Some were employed in the carpenter’s shop although most of them worked outside the fort. The outside work consisted of building a large bank round the fort to prevent people from seeing inside; or removing earth which covered a great deal of the fort; or breaking some of the concrete emplacements into pieces. Picks, shovels and wheelbarrows were provided for this work.

(33) During the outside work, the prisoners were, for no apparent reason, made to do exercises. The were formed up in squads and made to run, lie down and run again. They even had to get down into puddles of water. They were often lashed for getting their uniform wet and dirty. In addition, the prisoners were made to goose-steps. Very often the prisoners carried out these exercises with packs on their backs containing heavy stones, although this was normally reserved as a punishment if the guards thought the prisoners were not working sufficiently fast. The aged or infirm were not excused.

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(34) If a prisoner had to go to the lavatory, he had to ask permission from one of the guards and often stand strictly to attention whilst awaiting the answer. Very often, the guard would not answer for a considerable time or refuse the permission. If a prisoner who was made to wait fouled his uniform he was punished. All prisoners state is was a regular occurrence.

(35) All work and exercises were supervised by the German and Flemish SS Guards who took every opportunity of ill-treating the prisoners. They were helped by some of the head men of the rooms. When a prisoner was spoken to by an officer he was made to stand at attention and he was not allowed to answer in any way. Some of the ordinary SS used to insist that prisoners also stood to attention when they addressed them. Anyone who answered back was flogged or accused of mutiny and committed in the cells. Work and exercises continued no matter how could it was and very often when it was wet. When the prisoners got wet through they were sometimes allowed to return to their barrack room but they had no other clothes to change into. The Jews were generally singled out for the worst treatment and they were often flogged unmerciful and were made to undergo every humility.

(36) No prisoner was allowed to report sick without the authorization of one of the guards. Even when a prisoner was flogged so that the wounds on his undernourished body were bleeding, permission had to be obtained to go to the infirmary to see the medical orderly. And the permission was not readily given. If permission was obtained to report sick the prisoner was kept waiting by the medical orderly for an indefinite time in the courtyard outside of the infirmary. Prisoners were sometimes kept waiting for hours and they were completely naked – that being the rule when reporting for medical inspection. As often as not the prisoner was told to return to his work as there was nothing wrong wih him.

(37) The only break during the hours of work was for the mid-day meal which took place any time between 1100 and 1400 or even later. If the guards considered that any prisoner had infringed any of the rule or had not worked sufficiently hard the mid-day meal was postponed for 2 or 3 hours.

(38) The prisoners did not normally work after the last meal of the day but remained looked in their rooms. Each room had a small bucket for a night latrine. This was soon filled and after this there was no alternative but to use the floor of the room. When this happened the guards invariably beat the prisoners some of whom say that the guards endeavored to make some unfortunate persons eat their own excreta.

(39) It appears that sometimes their was not work on Sundays, but this was by no means an invariable as many prisoners say that there were made to work every day.

(40) Prisoners Confined to the Cells : At reveille their beds were pinned to the wall or removed from the cell. The only time those prisoners were allowed out of their cells was once daily to empty their latrine bucket and to wash which took a matter of 3 or 4 minutes. Prisoners in the dark cells had hood placed over their heads when they were escorted out to empty their buckets. This was to prevent them being recognized by other prisoners and to act as an additional torture. When these prisoners washed no other prisoners were allowed to be present. These ‘cell’ prisoners generally did not work at all whilst many of them where kept in manacles, handcuffs and – or shackles. Prisoners in the dark cells were not allowed to loan against the whitewashed wall. If they did so the whitewash came off onto their clothes and when the guards saw it they were beaten.

(41) Prisoners who normally lived in the rooms were committed to the cells for the most trivial offenses. Paul Levy, has stated that he was severely flogged with a whip by one of the SS Lieutenants and committed to the dark cells for having said I will try when one of the guards told him to move faster when he was working in the camp grounds. He was told he had mutinied. He was released on the 3rd day and allowed to return to his room. On his return his fellow-prisoners told him that a parcel had arrived for him. Shortly after his release the SS Lieutenant who had flogged him came to the barrack room and asked if he had anything to say. Levy asked if he could have the parcel which he was told had arrived at the fort for him as it would contain food and he was hungry. The Lieutenant said that there was no parcel and marched him to the office to make sure. The SS in the office said there it was no parcel. As a result, the same SS Lieutenant who 3 days previously had flogged Levy for saying I’ll try gave him a large cake. Levy states that incomprehensible action made him think that he was in a Lunatic Asylum.

(42) Prisoners were not normally interrogated until they had been in the camp for 1 month or 2, on the principle that their powers of resistance would have decreased during that period. Some prisoners however were interrogated shortly after their entry. Interrogations were sometimes carried out in the offices of the accompaniment of blows across the face and the body. If the prisoner would not talk and the Germans particularly wanted to obtain information from him, he was taken to the torture chamber. Here he was generally stripped naked. During the interrogations the prisoner was usually handcuffed and subjected to the following tortures : (a) being hit across the face or body particularly in the region of the sexual organs with a truncheon or cat o’nine tails; (b) being laid across the table and trashed; (c) being hauled up to the ceiling by means of the pulley referred in paragraph (10) above a trashed whilst in mid-air, or released from ceiling so that he crashed onto the ground or onto the sharp edges of wooden block; (d) being burned on the body with cigars ends; (e) having his fingers crushed into a press; (f) having his body burned with a instrument which was connected to electric plug in the torture chamber. This instrument consisted of a flat metal circular plate which contained several short needles and which had a handle. It is believed that this instrument was bought to the fort from Brussels or Antwerp.

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(43) Women were not excused these tortures. Madame Paquet (see Appendix) gives details of the treatment she received in the torture chamber when she was interrogated whilst she was completely naked. Singer the doctor who worked in the infirmary, in his statement (see Appendix) says that a Belgian woman was also beaten up in this torture chamber whilst she was completely naked.

(44) Before people could be subjected to torture, application had to be made by the Commandant of the camp to the SS HQ in Brussels, who it is believed had to apply to Berlin. It is understood that the camp authorities never waited for the reply to their application but proceeded to torture the victims immediately.

(45) Instruments Left Behind by the Germans : The following articles and instruments of torture were found in the camp after the departure of the Germans : (a) a heavy leather whip; (b) a string thong threaded with leaden beads; (c) a pair of handcuffs; (d) 2 pairs of shackles; (e) a form of chain handcuffs which can be tightened as required.

(46) The camp moat has been drained in order to ascertain whether or not it contains any other instruments which the Germans may have thrown away in their hurried departure. Apart of a machine gun, ammunition and various articles of military equipment, the only articles found have been a pair of shackles and an heavy hide whip.

(47) A press similar to that used as a finger press in Breendonk was found in a German HQ in Soignies. It is understood that the press was designed as a clamp for the rudder or an aircraft when it is grounded. Mme Paquet identifies it as similar to the instrument in which her fingers were crushed.

(48) Places of Execution : Prisoners who were sentenced to dead were generally shot. It appears to have been the custom for the condemned person to erect the railway sleepers which served as their execution posts. The prisoners were shot from about 15 yards range. 10 railway sleepers have been erected in the fort in the place where the prisoners say the shootings took place, the Germans having removed the post before their departure.

(49) Other prisoners were executed by hanging. The gallows was taken down by the Germans before they departure, but a facsimile has been constructed by the Belgians on the site of the original and from descriptions given by formers prisoners. This gallows is built out-of-doors in a corner made by 2 walls. It consist of a platform with a trap door in it which is operated by an iron handle. There are some steps from mounting the platform. Above the platform and resting on the 2 walls is an horizontal beam from which the condemned persons were hanged. Some ex-prisoners say that chains were used for the hanging and no rope. Part of this facsimile was found in the fort – namely the steps and the iron handle. According to the cook Moens the gallows was erected by the carpenter Carleer about April 1944. De Shutter the electrician states that Carleer made the iron work and the wood work was done by the prisoners themselves. Amelinckx the former pig-man states that the gallows was made by 5 prisoners.

(50) It is not known how many peoples were executed. Moens states that the number was at least 350 and that included a French woman (the wife of an English officer) who was shot 7 or 8 weeks before the Germans fled. Lemaitre states that he have seen more than 80 persons leave for the execution post including Herman, the Chief Postman of Brussels, Martial Van Schnelle the Olympic athlete and also a blind man. Frankignoule says that 3 persons were hanged on May 10 1943, including a Fraiteur. Victor Trido says that 20 men were shot on January 6 1943 and 21 on January 13 1943.

(51) Singer states that over 300 peoples were shot and about 50 were hanged between March 1941 and March 1944. None of the dead, whether they were executed or died from other causes was buried in the fort, except perhaps temporarily. They were taken away to an unknown destination. It is believed that a few of the victims were buried in some unmarked in Brasschaat Camp near Antwerp whilst a few may be buried in the unmarked graves at the Tir National in Brussels referred to in paragraph 58 below. This information has not yet been verified. There are as yet no definitive details available as to the 100 of victims who died or were executed in the camp. It is thought that many have been cremated. All the dead were put into crudely and cheaply made coffins whether or not they were executed. The coffins were not made in the fort. There are still a few coffins to be seen there.

(52) Number of Prisoners who Died in the Camp : It is not know how many prisoners died in the camp as a result of ill-treatment. Singer the Austrian doctor says that over 500 men died during his stay at the Camp from March 3 1941 to March 31 1944. This figure includes over 300 peoples who were shot and approximately 15 who were hanged. In thus it seems that about 200 peoples died in the camp in 3 years as a result of their ill-treatment, but it must be remembered the camp was in operation for over 4 years and no information is available as to the number who died during the whole period the camp was in operation. In addition, however, it must be realized that many of the sick were removed to other hospitals (e.g. Antwerp) and no doubt many died there.

(53) Escapes : Very few prisoners managed to escape. In 1941, a Jew managed to escape according to information received from Madame Verdickt. 1 prisoner who tried to escape was killed by the guards. (details of this bellow).

(54) Charges, Trials and Releases : Many of the prisoners never had any charge preferred against them. If a prisoner was charged he was given no opportunity to defend himself, or given any sort of a trial in the camp. Sometimes after a period of weeks or months a prisoner might be released, even though he had been flogged and subjected to every kind of brutality during his detention. Very often, prisoners who were to be released were taken off work and kept in the infirmary in order to give them an opportunity to recover some of their strength and for their wounds to heal. Every prisoner who was released had to sign a statement which reads as follow :

Undertaking

I, the undersigned, [……………….], hereby undertake in future to refrain from every political or propagandist activity.
I understand that my release is governed by these conditions and that I am liable to fresh forfeiture of my freedom if I do not carry out this undertaking.
I also declare hereby that I shall make no claim in respect of any measures which have been taken against me by the police.
I am aware that I must say nothing about anything which I have seen during the time of my imprisonment, otherwise I shall be re-arrested and detained in a concentration camp.
I have to report immediately to [………………..].

(55) Statement by a Member of the German Security Police : In an appendix bellow is an extract of a statement made by a member of the Security Police who is in the hand of the Belgian police. This statement confirms the stories of former prisoners.

(56) Visit to Breendonk (1945) : It is suggested that the readers of this report visit this camp as it is impossible to convey the real atmosphere of this place on paper. There they will see scratched on the walls of the rooms and the cells calendars, names, messages and drawings of the head of Christ. Many of these messages were scratched out by the Germans but many still remain.

Brendonk-000

(57) Tir National : This is a large barrack with rifle ranges. It is in Brussels. Nurse Edith Cavell was executed at the Tir National during the 1914-1918 war. Her statue which was erected outside the barracks after the last war was destroyed by the Germans in 1940. It is estimated that about a thousand people were shot here during the German occupation of this war, the victims being brought from different prisons throughout Belgium. The prisoners were tied to posts and shot from a range of about fifteen yards. The Director, Major Wastelain, found three of these posts “in situ” after the Germans had left. He also found in a small shed some fifty posts ready as replacements.

(58) There are two cemeteries at the Tir National where some three hundred and sixty people are buried. Major Wastelain has found a list of people buried in one of these cemeteries and has thus been able to identify the graves. The graves in the other cemetery are marked with numbers only. It must be remembered, however, that all the victims were not buried in these two cemeteries, many of the bodies being taken off to unknown destinations.

(59) Particulars of Germans and Collaborators Mentioned in the Report : With regard to Breendonk, reference has already been made to the names of the permanent staff (paragraph 11 and Appendix bellow) and also some of the head men of the rooms (paragraph 55 and Appendix bellow). The names of all other Germans and Collaborators in this report or in any of the appendices are shown at Appendix bellow.

Some of the People who were imprisoned, Ill-treated, Tortured or Killed in Breendonk

Part 1 – Breendonk Concentration Camp

# 001 : M. M. Bouchery : Ex-ministrer of the Transport and First President of the House of Representatives in Belgium. Died in Brussels in November 1944 as a result of ill-treatment during his imprisonment.

# 002 : O. Van Kersbeek : Councilor of Malines and ex-member of the Parliament. Died 2 weeks after his release as a result of ill-treatment.

# 003 : A. Heyndels (11 Kolvenierstraat, Vilvoorde) : Communist Senator. Now Prisoner in Germany

# 004 : J. Booremans (161 rue des Frères Trymans, Tubize) : A member of Parliament. Now Prisoner in Germany

# 005 : G. Fromont : A member of Parliament and Burgomaster or Willebroek. He was imprisoned from February 1 1941 to June 28 1941. He was accused of sabotage. He lost 44 Lbs (22 Kgs) during his imprisonment. He saw a Jew beaten to death. He himself was beaten many times and made to crawl using his elbow only. He does not know why he was released.

# 006 : Jacques Ochs : Directeur of the Academy of Fine Arts in Liège. Was imprisoned in Breendonk from December 6 1940 to February 20 1942. His crime was being a Jew.

# 007 : Franz Fisher (Place Gambline de Meux, Brussels) : A member of Parliament, Leader of the Socialist Party and Honorary Member of the Brussels Press (Serials #001 to #006 were imprisoned in Breendonk at the same time with Fisher). M. Fisher was only imprisoned for 8 weeks in 1941. For his account of life in the camp see bellow.

# 008 : A. Denis (23 rue Joseph Berger, Genappe) : Son of Lt Gen Denis, a former Minister of War. Is a notary and President of the Belgian Red Cross. For his account of life in the camp see bellow.

# 009 : C. Lemaitre (6 Boulevard d’Ypres, Brussels) : Postman. Was imprisoned with 41 other Brussels postmen on September 1 1942. Was released after 9,5 months imprisonment. For his account of life in Breendonk and his complaint to the Public Prosecutor, Court of Brussels, see bellow.

# 010 : P. E. Hermans : Head Postman of Brussels. Executed

# 011 : Martial Van Schnelle : An Olympic swimmer. Was a member of the Belgian Underground. Was imprisoned, tortured and executed. He was executed whilst Lemaitre was in Breendonk.

# 012 : Pierre Crockeart
# 013 : Jacques Bonneval

# 014 : J. Tissen : Brussels postmen imprisoned with Lemaitre (009). They all died from blows received from Fernand Wijss, one of the Belgian SS guards.

# 015 : Sebastien Degreef : Sorter in Brussels post office. Imprisoned with Lemaitre. Died from blows received from Fernand Wiess.

# 016 : Albert De Pondt : Brussels postman. Died as a result of ill-treatment.

# 017 : Jean van Boven (Antwerp) : Died of blows received from Fernand Wijss

# 018 : Louis Spanbock (2 Avenue de Conge, Brussels) : Was imprisoned in Breendonk for 13 months from October 3 1940. He has a small scar in his head and is deaf in one ear as a result of being beaten. His wife is at present in prison in Germany and his small child died as a result of neglect by the Germans. He was in Breendonk with Paul Levy (019). His prisoner number is 18 and Levy is 19. Spanbock is a Jew.

# 019 : Paul Levy (442 Avenue Georges Henri) : He was born in Brussels in 1910. He was a well-known broadcaster in Belgium being Chief Editor of the Commentators of the Belgian Broadcasting Agency. He was a professor at the Ecoles des Hautes Etudes de Belgique and a member of the Royal Central Commission of Statistics. He was arrested by the Gestapo on September 18 1940. He was accused of (a) being an anti-German before the War (b) having supported the May 1940 Campaign in a anti-German manner (c) having written an injurious letter to the German Authorities when he refused a German request to broadcast. He was sent to Breendonk on November 29 1940 and released on November 20 1941 after a BBC announcement that he had died of ill-treatment during captivity. He was transfered to the camp infirmary before his release. He escaped from Belgium in April 1942 and made his way to England arriving in July 1942. He returned to Belgium after the liberation, having written articles, given lectures and done broadcasts on Breendonk during his stay in England. An account of his experiences is available bellow.

# 020 : Antoine Abbeloos (627 Ch. de Mons, Anderlecht) : A garage proprietor. He was imprisoned for 14,5 months because he had sent some of his cars to help the Red Cause during the Spanish War. Weighed 5 stones 10 lbs when released in November 1941. When he arrived in Breendonk he together with with some other prisoners was kept standing at attention for 48 hours. No toilets facilities were available. Those who fell with fatigue remained on the ground and were not removed. He saw many of his fellow prisoners killed, e.g. one boy who was struck by a German, attached with his tormentor and was immediately shot: one Jew was knocked on the head whilst working and killed for no apparent reason.

# 021 : Mme B. Paquet (rue du Zéphyr, Woluwé St Lambert) : The wife of a Belgian Officer who was killed early in the war. She was arrested in August 1940. She was arrested as a result of a Dr Decortes having declared that he had seen a British and French officer in civilian clothes at her house. After being interrogated she was released 7 days after arrest. She was re-arrested in December 1942, and was sent to Breendonk. It is believed that only 7 women were sent to Breendonk, she being one of them. No women war-dresses were there and she was looked after only by men. She was sentenced to dead and send to Germany but was sent back to Brussels for further questioning. She was in hospital and was liberated when the British Army arrived. An extract from a statement she made – bellow.

# 022 : Louis Weill (rue de Marche 130, Schaerbeck) : Was Reuter Correspondent in Brussels. He was imprisoned in Breendonk from May 12 1941 to May 29 1942 during which time he attempted to commit suicide (by cutting their veins in his wrist) rather than endure the ill-treatment he was receiving. He was released owning to the fact that he was developing tuberculosis. He is a very sick man having a tube in his side. He is a Jew.

# 023 : Maurice Rime (21 rue de la Procession, Anderlecht) : Was imprisoned along with 70 other men from the Ministry of Labour. He kept in Breendonk from April 2 to June 1 1943, during which time he was ill-treated. On one occasion he was given a severe thrashing across the back. He was nearly dead when he was relieved and did not expect to recover. He is still being treated by a doctor.

# 024 : Alphonse Faeck (13 rue Martha, Brussels) : Was in Breendonk April 2 to June 3 1943. He was a tram conductor. He does not know why he was imprisoned and why he was released. His physical and mental condition were so bad that he was unable to speak for several months after his release. He is still to weak to work.

# 025 : Emile Marchand (rue Ronsard 20, Anderlecht) : A hunch-back now aged 61 who is General Secretary of the Workers Association. He was imprisoned from April 2 1942 to November 12 1943 for refusing to work for the Germans. He was placed on a table and his hands and ankles bound; then he was whipped until he was black and blue. He saw a man who was to weak to lift any more stones fall over. One of the German guard jumped on his stomach until he was dead. He weighed 5 stones when he was released.

# 026 : Alois De Peare (256 rue du Tilleul, Schaerbeck) : A poor man who is now 70 years of age. He was imprisoned for 4 months in 1941 from 22 July to 22 November. He belongs to no political party and has no idea why he was taken into custody. His ankle was broken by a blows from a rifle. He has terrible scars on his thigh – a legacy of the camp. His stories of ill-treatments correspond with these received from other prisoners. He was never interrogated and no charge was proffered against him.

# 027 : Broune (69 rue Antoine Beart, St Gilles) : A Russian who refused to work for the Germans. He his still in bed but is slowly recovering.

# 028 : Dr Adolphe Singer (53 rue de la Levure, Ixelles) : An Austrian doctor who was in Breendonk from March 3 1941 to March 31 1944 and was employed in the camp infirmary for about 1,5 years. You will find bellow 2 interviews from Dr Singer. He is referred to in paragraphs 29, 51 and 52 of the report. Dr Singer’s name must not be used in the Press.

# 029 : Victor Trido (Commissaire de Police, La Louvière) : Was in Breendonk from December 31 1942 until April 1943 being accused of sabotage. His personal belongings were stoled in the camp. He was kicked by De Bodt the SS guard, and had a big wound on his leg which refused to heal. He was beaten practically every day. On 3 occasions, he was singled out for special punishments : on the 1st, he received 20 strokes with the lash from the SS Wijss and was left covered with blood; on the 2nd, he received 15 strokes with a lash and 15 strokes with a rod from SS Wijss and SS De Bodt; on the 3rd, he was placed between the shafts or a barrow and was beaten for 20 minutes until he was covered with blood. He states that 20 men were shot on January 6 and 21 on January 13 1943. He states that he saw about 12 men buried alive one day in February or March 1943. He is publishing a book on his experiences in the camp.

# 030 : T. Frankignoulle (34 rue de Parme, St-Gilles) : Was imprisoned from April 2 to May 21 1943, after which he was transferred to the Citadelle de Huy where he remained 3 months. An account of his experiences will be published bellow.

# 031 : Vatere Van Hove (99 Av Roodabake, Schaerbeck) : Employed on the Brussels’ Trams. He was in Breendonk from April 2 until August 1943. He had been selling Newspapers for the resistance movement. He was very badly treated and has terrible scars on his body which will not heal because up owing to his blood being in such a bad state. He was in the torture chamber once during which time he was tripped naked and beaten. He saw the pulley in the torture chamber (see paras. 10 and 42). He saw many dying and others who were shot. A man hanged himself during the time he was there rather endure the hardships of the camp.

# 032 : Major Stiers : A regular officer of the Belgian Army who was imprisoned in Breendonk for 4 to 5 months. He was sent to Germany in February 1944. (see bellow, statement of A. Denis)

# 033 : Albert Van Roy : Town clerk from Willebroek. Imprisoned from 1 February to June 28 1941 with the Burgomaster (see # 005). He was subjected to the usual treatment. His hands were scratched by one of the SS Guard and the wounds turned septic as he could not get any treatment. Whilst he was imprisoned his house was looted by the Garrison. The German Commandant stoles his car when he fled to Germany at the beginning of September 1944.

# 034 : Victor Van Hamme (162 Av Rogier, Brussels) : He was arrested with 41 other postmen. He was detained in Breendonk from September 1 1942 until February 1 1943. He weighed 76 kilos (11 stones 3 lbs) before he entered the camp and only 42 kilos (6 stones 9 lbs) when he was released. His health is bad and he has now tuberculosis. He states I was arrested without reason and taken to Breendonk where the Gestapo accused me of being a Communist which was completely untrue as I had never belonged to the Communist Movement. I was beaten there nearly every day and I had to carry a heavy bag of stones with which I had to exercise until I could not lift myself from the ground. I was then beaten until blood issued from my mouth and ears. I received a blow with a shovel which left a scar on my head and from which I still feel pain at the present day. I also received blows in the region on my thighs which today prevents me from walking fast.

# 035 : M Emile Scieur (27 Rue Massart Monceau s Sambre) : Entered Breendonk on December 2 1942, and left on December 17 1934. For details of his stay see (bellow).

# 036 : Raymond Hanard (422 Chausée de Bruxelles Bruxelles) : Aged 50. Was imprisoned at Breendonk from Dec 23 1942 to Jul 3 1944. He lost 52 lbs in weight during his imprisonment. He was accused of terrorism. He was struck frequently.

# 037 : Emile Renard (Police Inspector of Jumet) : He was imprisoned in Breendonk on December 12, 1942 and finally released on July 3 1943. Was accused of being a terrorist and hiding arms and ammunition. An extract from his statement is given bellow.

Part Two – Imprisoned in Places other than Breendonk

# 038 : Paul de Rudder (130 Rue de Palais Bruxelles) : A young man who was arrested on March 16 1944 on a charge of espionage. He was interrogated and tortured. He was released from Keverloo Coup near Brussels on the liberation. For an account of his experiences see bellow.

# 039 : Major Van Roosbroeck (96 Rue Paul Devigne Schaerbeck) : (Now in No. 10 Auxiliary Hospital, Rue de la Poste, Brussels) He was arrested in May 1942 and accused of having organized the departure of Belgians to England. He was locked up in St Gilles Prison and later Merksplas. He was released in May 1943. Three weeks after being released he was rearrested and locked up in St Gilles. He was then sent to Merksplas and later to the Wapten Coup near St Omer. In all places he was tortured and subjected to brutal treatment. He was released in Jan 1944. Since this time he has been in the hospital. It is improbable that he will recover. For an account of his experiences see bellow.

#040 : Hubert Genis (9 Rue de Duc, Brussels) : Was arrested on February 18 1944. He was interrogated at HQ of the Field Police in Rue Traversière, Brussels, and later transferred to the Caserne St Anne at Laeken. He was tortured. He was in the train in Brussels station which contained prisoners when the Germans intended to take to Germany. Owing to the speed of the Allied advance and sabotage the train did not start (see Report Paragraph 3). All the Germans fled and the prisoners were freed. For an account of his experiences see Appendix bellow.

# 041 : R. Defonseca (20, Rue de Montenegro, Brussels) : A police officer at St Gilles. In 1942 and again in 1943 he was arrested as a hostage and imprisoned at Louvain and at Huy. Was re-arrested in Feb 1944 when convalescing from an operation. He was taken to Caserne St Anne, Laeken and tortured. He was on the prisoner’s train with Genis (serial # 040). For an account of his experiences see bellow.

# 042 : Mme Aulotte (354, Chaussée de Bruxelles, Forest) : She was denounced by a Belgian, seized by the GESTAPO in March 1944 and tortured. Was in the prisoners’ train for Germany which did not start (see serial # 040). For an account of the tortures see Appendix bellow.

# 043 Lt Baron Albert Greindl (Sureté de l’Etat, Room 403, Shell Edg., Brussels) : He was caught in France after coming from England. Was imprisoned at Peroignan and tortured. Was later transferred to Fresnes near Paris where he was again tortured. Was released on August 18 when Paris was liberated. For an account of his experiences see Appendix bellow.

# 044 : Jean Baptiste Charbin (Rue de la Borne, Brussels) : Was denounced to the Gestapo by a Belgian as an agent of the Allies. He was tortured in St Gilles Prison, Brussels. He was on the train bound for Germany which failed to start (see Serial # 040). For an account of his experiences see bellow.

# 045 : Hubert A. H. Laude (Rector Colonial University Antwerp) : He was denounced to the Gestapo as a member of the underground movement and arrested in Antwerp on August 26 1944. He was condemned to death on September 1. On September 3 he was put on a train for Germany where he was to have been shot. Owing to no engine being available to pull this train and the speed of the Allied advance he was liberated when British troops entered Antwerp (see paragraphs 3 of the report). For details of this story see Appendix bellow, Mr. Laude was disabled in the 1914-1918 war.

# 046 : Léon Joseph Ernould (107 Rue Garard, Ixelles) : Arrested by the Secret Field Police on March 9 1944, being accused of receiving arms by parachute. He was liberated by the arrival of the British troops on September 5 1944. For an account of his experiences see Appendix bellow.

# 047 : Emile Labbé (23 Rue Jules Bouillon, Brussels) : Arrested in 1943 and taken to St Gilles Prison. Interrogated and brutally treated. For an account of his experiences see Appendix bellow. Mr Labbé is now 34 years old.

# 048 : Abbé Jules Quientet (7 Rue Grande, Paturages (Mons) : Was arrested on June 25 1943 and charged with assisting parachutists. He was freed from the train in Brussels station which was to convey off prisoners to Germany (see serial # 040 above). For an account of his experiences see Appendix bellow.

Appendix B
Statement made by Franz Fischer on Breendonk Concentration Camp, Breendonk, Belgium
Translated from French

General Considerations

I have been asked to write a detailed report on the living conditions and the treatment of prisoners interned in the concentration camp of Breendonk, during the German occupation of Belgium. Obviously, in this modest account, a complete picture cannot be given, nor is it even possible to give approximately correct figures of the numerous victims of the barbaric measures that were incarcerated in this prison; of those who succumbed as a result of the harsh and difficult slave work that was inflicted on them; or the brutalities, beatings and tortures they had to suffer; of the systematic malnutrition that made them perish, and particularly of the purely physical tortures that caused so many deaths among them. Nor am I counting those who were shot or hanged, often without any trial whatever. But the number of victims of this hard and horrifying imprisonment that lasted for more than four years is surely in the thousands, and the number of those who perished at Breendonk or after having left it is in the hundreds.

It is possible, and in any case highly desirable that the Belgian government should be able to make an inquiry into this question. Meanwhile, it was morally necessary that the authoritative voice of those were able to reconstruct the memory of their stay at Breendonk should be heard. Already a large quantity of literature of authentic documentary statements is in the course of production and the author of this account will publish, the course of the next few days, a volume of memories of his captivity in that prison. (The Hell of Breendonk and Scenes relived. Labor Edition, at Brussels). This is therefore less of a complete and detailed report than the relating of a few episodes that happened in captivity and quoted here more as examples with which I would like to make known to those in Great Britain, who wish to take an interest in these painful and tragic facts dealing with the reign of cruelty and terror that the NAZI denomination imposed on the Belgian people.

What was the prison of Breendonk ?

An ancient, abandoned fort on the first military defenses of Antwerp. Situated alongside the Brussels-Antwerp autostrade, about a kilometer from the large industrial district of Willebroeck. This military building had been abandoned owing to its strategical uselessness and its unhealthiness, for the antique casements were cold and damp and allowed water to penetrate.

It had first been decided, at the beginning of the German occupation to make it into a concentration amp for the Jews whom the Gestapo were tracking down everywhere and with whom they had filled to overflowing the Belgian prisons. But very soon hostages were also brought there, political prisoners and Belgian personalities who were considered undesirable. And then when Germany declared war on the Soviet Republic, Communists or anyone with any kind of Communist sympathies were sent there. Among this number were some who had no Communist sympathies whatever, but who had been denounced as such to the NAZIS, mostly anonymously.

For my part, I was incarcerated in Breendonk for more than two months, after which I was transferred for eight weeks to the cellular prison of St Gilles, near Brussels, without having been tried or even questioned. For this was the custom in these imprisonments. The majority of those miserable beings who were there were in complete ignorance as to why they were held. There were some who remained there months and years. Hundreds of others after a fairly long stay were set to camps in Germany. And very many came out of that hell in coffins; they had not been able to withstand the horrible treatment, the wounds and illnesses not cared for, or they had just simply been killed.

The Prisoners

It would be hard to name all the personalities who underwent this hard and cruel detention at Breendonk. I only want to remember certain names among them, those that I met during my own captivity. These were : M. M. Bouchery ex Minister of Transport and first Vice-President of the House of Representatives of Belgium; Van Kersheek, Councillor at Malines and ex Member of Parliament; the Advocate General and the Chief of the Malines Police Force; the Communist Senator Eyndels and Bottermans the Member of Parliament; Fromont the M. P. and burgomaster of Willebroek; the President of the Polish Club of Belgium; the famous artist Jacques Ochs, director of the Academy of Fine Arts at Liège; a Belgian Officer whom I am told was General Langlier; the Reverend Father Gouchert, Director of the Catholic Institute (Arts et Métiers) at Lille; M. Levy the most popular of all broadcasters in Belgium; etc.

All these personalities had to undergo the very same regime as all the other prisoners, had to do the hardest of all forced labor, had the same under-nourishment and suffered the same bad treatment. M. Bouchery is still ill as a result of his ill-treatment and sufferings (Note : he has died since this statement was written) and his colleagues from Malines, M. Van Kersheek died sometime after his liberation, worn out by the privations and physical sufferings as well as the mental ones.

The Hunger Diet

Everything was organized to bring about that slow death caused by utter exhaustion. Here is a list of the food that we were given : for a whole day two pieces of dry bread, one at five in the morning, the other at five in the afternoon. This represented all told a weight of about one hundred grammes; in addition at two o’clock, a bowl of soup. And that was all. During a short time the prisoners had been authorized to have sent to them, from outside, parcels of food of six kilos a fortnight, but when I arrived at the camp this ‘favour’ had been abolished, the excuse being given that Communist literature could have been hidden inside these parcels. In this way the prisoners could naturally be seen losing weight, but those who were caught eating grass, like sheep do, to satisfy their hunger, were put into solitary confinement, I being among that number.

Forced Labor

All prisoners, regardless of who and what they were, from six in the morning, in shifts of two hours, had to accomplish, without interruption, without stopping for a single second and without lifting their heads, the most difficult labor. They had to level off banks with shovels, push trucks laden with earth or do the same work with wheel-barrows, they had to carry large stones extracted from the bank, and finally, a job reserved for the very oldest and most infirm, the breaking of bricks into small pieces. All this punctuated by beatings with whips and sticks, meted out by the supervisors and soldiers when the work was not progressing quickly enough. For hours on end one could only hear the brutal yells that were supposed to stimulate this force labor, one could also hear the dull thuds of the sticks connecting with the bodies, and the painful moaning of the victims. Late on, another torture was reserved for those who were too weak to carry out the work. Cells still to be seen at Breendonk a little larger than telephone cabins were built for them, and they were obliged to remain standing for twelve consecutive hours and if they weakened they would be beaten.

At times, particularly when we were undergoing a collective punishment, in which the camp’s three hundred prisoners had to continue their work after their eight hours, men could be seen to fall like flies and their comrades would pick them up and take them to an unclean casemate, where all the sick were piled and which, ironically, was called the infirmary. But more often than not, in the early morning, one could see prisoners sadly carrying oblong boxes : they were the coffins of the unfortunate ones who had succumbed to similar sufferings. After some time, they were not even worried about giving these victims a decent burial. They were all buried together in the camp very secretly. It was thus that fifty Jewish prisoners were buried under a small hillock that can be seen at Breendonk.

Wounds, Murders and Tortures

Have I said that punches and kicks were the rule in this accursed camp ? Sometimes was added, under the pretext of collective punishment, the denial of all food for a whole day. But all this was nothing to what happened in that back room, in the guard house, which one only passed with shudders. It was there that the original cells were built and prisoners were thrown in them who were considered insolent, or who at work had not obeyed the brutal orders that were shouted to them and which they usually did not understand since they were always in German.

I got to know these cells the very same day on which I was liberated. I was made to go through a room with large barred cages all around it, similar to cages that are found in zoos. When I passed the poor prisoners gripped the bars of their cages to try to enter into conversation with me. But I also was put in a cell, without light and without air where I could not hold myself straight. This torture luckily only lasted an hour. By what follows, I was able to admit, as anyone who visits Breendonk must admit, the executioners had perfected their methods.

Narrow solitary confinement cells have been built, so small that one could hardly stand, a room for ‘reflections’, where to get confessions, the unfortunate ones had to undergo first the cold bath, then the boiling hot one and finally there was a torture room with all the implements for maiming the flesh and breaking the bones complete with a gutter to let the blood run away. It is quite true that close by all this, in a sinister enclosure, there are the execution posts and the scaffolds for those that were hanged. He who will not believe this, let him go and see for himself.

The Executioners

If I were asked to denounce the culprits of these atrocities, I would answer that in the very first place, the most guilty is the regime. The most humane of the officers who guarded us, assured me that it was by similar methods, in their own concentration camps, that the Nazis had been able to quell the thousands of German adversaries, of whom they had rid the Reich. But it was obvious that the actual executioners in this abominable system of repression at Breendonk put a sadistic zeal in their work and they also are held responsible. Are names wanted ? You can well imagine that our torturers did not identify themselves to please us. The Camp Commandment was a certain Major Schmidt. A man who was impassive and insensitive, who would pass by us with disdainful air and who did not seem to be worried by our martyrdom.

But he had given the reins to a brute who directed all the labor, he would shout insults and would swear in the face of everyone, he would strike the prisoners with his riding whip or with his gloves, and it was he who gave out all those orders of torture. This horrible and grotesque character went under the name of Lieutenant Polsum. Is it his true name ? I could not say, but he remained a sufficient number of years at Breendonk for him to be identified. Try to seize him in Germany and make him pay the price for the immense number of his crimes against humanity. Crimes that he committed in the camp of famine and torture.

I certify that this account is authentic and true.
(signed) Franz Fischer
Belgian Member of Parliament
Honorary President of the Brussels Press

Notes by the compiler of the report :
1. No other evidence of bodies being buried in Breendonk has been produced, nor have excavations revealed any bodies.
2. It is considered that Lieutenant Polson is really Lieutenant Prauss.

Appendix C
Statement made by A. Denis Regarding the Reprisals Camp of Breendonk
Translated from French

German Ways
Dante in his work entitled ‘The Inferno’ says in so many words ‘Abandon all hope ye who enter here’.

The fort of Breendonk was destined to receive those political detainees classified by the Germans in the category of Terrorists. This category included in their mind every type of resistance to the occupants and particularly the pro-British, who wore on their prison uniform a special sign (white and red bar), the other detainees wearing different signs according to their classification. This visual sign enabled the guards to inflict on the different detainees every kind of annoyance and cruelty without having to examine the particular case of each one.

There were two types of detention : (1) complete isolation and (2) communal. The workers in the latter category were compelled to do the most laborious tasks under inhuman conditions; loading wagons (about thirty a day) to be conducted and unloaded for filling up pits under the guard of the German and Belgian Nazis (VNV Flemish and Rexist Walloons) who were provided with lashes with which they beat the detainees. When to their mind a detainee did not work fast enough, as a punishment they placed on his back an army pack filled with bricks and weighing about thirty kilos, with which, under the blows of the lash, they had to do the same work as the others. These unfortunates were drilled and martyrised continually; they wore clogs and had to march to attention before the guards, jumping in the air at each step.

The Life of Detainees in Complete Isolation (Solitary Confinement)

Brought to the Fort handcuffed, the detainee was taken to an office where he was searched and where every object in his possession was taken away from him. All these operations, which took place at the Fort, were done with the face to the wall against which for the slightest thing he was knocked by a blow in the neck. The search finished, a blue sack, without any opening and descending as far as the belt, was placed on the head of the detainee who was conducted by an SS to a cell.

Description of the Cells

Area one meter by two, only one opening : a door, with a small peep-hole, and provided with an outside bolt padlocked. The ceiling of the cells was formed by a grate which allowed to penetrate the air already fouled by those other detainees who lived communally. A plank fixed to the wall by a hook (which manipulated from the outside of the cell rendered it mobile and allowed it to be lowered to form a bed) constituted along with a bucket the entire furniture of the cell. It was constantly damp, water percolating from the walls. In the extension of the central passage from which the cells jutted off were two windows, closed and blacked-out in such a manner that neither air nor daylight would penetrate.

A few hours after entering the cell the detainee was conducted, as indicated above, to the clothing store where his clothes were taken from him and where he received a pair of trousers and a cap (which it was forbidden to wear but had to be carried in the belt of the trousers), also an army jacket bearing the signs referred to above and his prison number in large figures and in addition, a pull-over, a blanket and a hand towel. After this procedure, the detainee was re-conducted back to his cell. Only in his cell could the detainee rid himself of his pack which he handed over to the NAZIS who came for it.

Life of the Prisoners

Reveille at 0600 with an immediate fixing of the plank to the wall. From reveille until bed time, which was at 2000, that in fourteen hours without being able either to sit down or squat or lean against the wall, the prisoner was obliged to remain standing, the guard opening at every moment the peep-hole of the door and each time the prisoner had to stand to attention and yell out ‘Eins’. The suffering caused by the fatigue was indescribable and had a very bad effect on the health. Fifty strokes of the rod was the immediate punishment for any breach of the rules.

At 0730, the prisoner received a bowl of so-called coffee which with that given him at 1700 was the only drink given him during the entire day. Suffering from thirst was permanent.

At 0830 the SS took the prisoners from their cells, one at a time, and conducted them to the latrine to empty their buckets; to go there, it was necessary to follow various interior passages where the prisoner was beaten up both by his own warder and the warder of the preceding or following prisoner. Certain of these warders forced their prisoner to strike another prisoner with the bucket he was carrying. The Nazi warders used to hit the prisoners in the face with their fists, kick their bodies and strike them with chains, pieces of wood, etc.

About 1100 the principal meal of the day, composed of a bowl of soup, was distributed.

At 1700 the prisoner received a bowl of ersatz coffee, a ration of bread, a potato or a salted sardine and the equivalent of a thimbleful of butter. The food was prepared by the prisoners but furnished by the Belgian authorities, who did what they could, but not only was the quantity totally insufficient but also the quality.

At 2000 the plank was unscrewed and the prisoner could at last rest. The prisoner left his cell only to empty his bucket (during which time he was beaten up regularly) at that time and before returning to his cell he could in a fashion wash himself at the ablutions installed in one of the passages. In order to do so, the prisoner rid himself of his sack, rapidly threw his jacket on the ground and put his head under the tap, not even having the time to wash his hands, for the NAZI warder considered this was all that was required. Whilst this took place the prisoners face was against the wall, so he was not able to recognize the guard who came along and continued to beat him up. Replacing the sack on his head, picking up the bucket with one hand and his jacket with the other, the prisoner was led back to his cell under the blows of the Nazi warder.

Several times a week both the cell and the prisoner were searched by three NAZIS, who took advantage of each occasion to beat up the prisoner thoroughly, this being in addition to the daily punishment. Once a week the prisoner received some clean linen which was in rags, and was conducted with a sack on the head, to the showers, which he passed through by himself so as not to be able to see any other prisoner and where he had to put on his clothes whilst he was still wet, as insufficient time was allowed for washing himself. Any relaxation supposedly humanitarian only took place for form’s sake. Each prisoner dreaded having to leave his cell for he knew the ill-treatment which awaited him.

At the time of his entry to the Fort, the prisoner had a so-called medical examination by the German M. O., the examination lasting four seconds. The prisoner, naked but with his head covered by a sack, passed through a passage and across an open yard, where after waiting, he was brought before the doctor. The doctor merely made the prisoner open his mouth and applied his stethoscope in the neighborhood of the heart; never had the prisoner an opportunity of being looked after by a doctor either for illness or wounds contracted at the camp.

The prisoner was generally held seven to eight weeks before being interrogated, this period being intended to weaken him physically, so that his moral resistance would be less when the Nazi officials of the Gestapo came to the camp to interrogate the prisoners. These interrogations were carried out in the presence of Nazis of the camp who were there to assist the interrogators in their mission, that is to say, to make the prisoners talk by striking them with a bludgeon on the head and the face and all over the body, including the groin. The stubborn prisoners were taken to the torture room situated in the cellars of the Fort. The sufferings of these unfortunate was such that, from their cells, the prisoners heard them scream and moan inhumanly, sometimes for hours.

Furthermore, in the Fort were a number of ferocious police dogs. The Nazi jailers saw that the prisoners passed near these dogs and were bitten each time by them. During my first night at the Fort, a prisoner two cells away from mine managed to get out of his cell intending to escape or die; he was caught five meters from his cell and chained and delivered over to the dogs. When he lost consciousness (which was many times), the German NAZIS on guard jumped, both feet together, with their big nailed boots on the victim, whose cries of agony were heard for hours before he died.

Life of the Prisoners Communally

In addition to the facts already set out above, further confirmation was given me by a prisoner from Breendonk, whom I met in the cells at the prison of St Gilles and who is at present in Germany, if he has not been shot. He is Major Stiers, an officer of the Belgian Regular Army and of the Colonies, who left for Germany at the beginning of February 1944 without having been judged and after having passed four to five months at Breendonk, and as long at St Gilles. He informed me that he had many times during his stay at Breendonk attempted suicide rather than endure the ill-treatment and tortures imposed upon the prisoners.

He had been confronted with the only two famous so-called Spaniard named Annir, or Anita, informer and mistress of De Sitter, alias Capt Willy, etc., one of the heads of the German Counter-Espionage in Belgium, having to his credit the discovery of the leading members of the pro-allied organizations in Belgium; he started certain resistance movements, subsidizing them and furnishing them with arms, causing the Patriots to visit the stores for arms supposed to have arrived from England (one of these depots or stores was thus visited by one of my friends, a villa full of arms at Stockel).

A book recounting the ordinary prison life at Breendonk will shortly be published and has been written by the Deputy Fischer, who lives at Place Gemblinne de Neux Brussels. (Note : This book has now been published).

The articles which appear in the ‘Moustique’ can be considered as being perfectly true and sincere. I recall a story of Major Stiers. He told me that he had seen the Nazis at a time when there were too many prisoners in the camp, force them, by lashing them with a hide whip to crawl in the water, in the middle of winter, then force them to remain immobile for hours in the cold until they died.

Speaking generally, a prisoner afflicted with any kind of illness was destined to die through lack of care. I can speak from experience having had a festering bruise behind the ear for four weeks, the result of a blow from a fist, and I only received the attention of a German orderly every four or five days when he came to see if my wound had developed into a mastoid, which would have caused my death in very little time.
To sum up Breendonk was a hell for those who passed through there.

(signed) A. Denis
17.10.44
Compiler’s Note : ‘Moustique’ Referred to Above is a Belgian Magazine.

Appendix D
Statements on Breendonk by C. Lemaire
Translated from French

This report relates to happenings which took place during the period from 1st September 1942 to 12 June 1943.

During the German occupation few details were known by the Belgian population of Breendonk, an ancient fort belonging to the outer defenses of Antwerp, which is situated a short distance from the ‘autostrade’ from Brussels to Antwerp, owing to the fact that very few prisoners came out alive from this Gestapo punishment camp. Those that did had to sign a declaration by which they promised to reveal nothing of what they had seen or heard at Breendonk. In this same declaration, the liberated prisoners engaged themselves ‘to take no action against the German authorities’. This helps to explain why, under the terror of the Gestapo and its accomplices, it was somewhat difficult for the public to know exactly what went on in this terrible camp, aptly named the ‘hell of Breendonk’. Nobody from the outside world entered the camp, except members of the Gestapo who arrived from various centres to interrogate the prisoners. Contact with the outside world was impossible; the prisoners were definitely cut off.

All the personnel, except the officers, slept in the camp. The camp was commanded by three German officers : Major Schmidt, of the SS troops, Lieutenant Schnapschustock and Lieutenant Prauss, both of the SS. Under their orders were forty-five soldiers including a number of NCOs of the Wehrmacht for guard duties, eight SS soldiers in grey uniforms, with the SP badge (Security Police), Belgian subjects, volunteers for this work and well paid receiving more than four thousand francs per month. It is these officers and these Belgian SS men who are mainly responsible for the terrible reputation of the camp; they did the beating and killing. Amongst the Belgian SS, particularly notorious were the following : SS-Meis Fernand, of Antwerp, who killed more than thirty during the sojourn there of the author of the present report, SS-Debodt Richard, of Brussels, and SS-Raes Clément, of Brussels. The others have certainly also crimes to account for, which only a strict investigation, together with the collaboration of ex-prisoners, will be able to prove.

The prison regime of the camp consisted mainly of hard labor, clearing away the earth covering the fortified galleries and cupolas, leveling off the borders of the fort and the land adjacent. The earth was excavated with broken down trucks. The SS guards insisted on the maximum amount of hard work being done, striking prisoners for nothing and often to death. The prisoners had to work in all weathers without their jackets, even in winter. According to the whim of an officer or an SS, they had to work stripped to the waist or in the rain. During the extremely cold periods they were forbidden to warm themselves by striking their sides; whoever was caught doing so risked being beaten to death. They were always bareheaded and with the heads shaved; forbidden to put their hands in their pockets; forbidden to cease work because of a wound; all the time at the orders of an officer or an SS for everything; forbidden to go to the hospital unless half dead, or without orders; forbidden to cease work even for a couple of seconds.

Punishment during work consisted of gymnastic exercises, running with tools, shovels, pick-axes, throwing oneself on the ground at the order ‘lie-down’, ‘run’, ‘lie-down’, ‘run’ and to crawl on the stomach over a long distance, even in the icy water of the pools. Whoever did not carry out the exercise well enough was beaten, often to death. These exercises were ordered at any hour of the day and without apparent reason. The orders for collective movements, falling in, march, break off, salutes, were given in German. One had to understand or guess, or be beaten.

Forty-eight and even fifty men were piled into the barrack rooms, transformed into prisons, rooms which in peace time normally took twenty men. There were wooden cage beds, with dirty and holed straw sacks. There were very few blankets and scarcely any toilet arrangements. Vermin was abounding. The rooms were cold and damp. Smoking and talking were absolutely forbidden. The very little food was definitely insufficient in vitamins and calories. About two hundred and twenty-five grammes of bread, a few grammes of sugar and jam and ersatz coffee (acorns?) was the daily ration, with a cabbage soup, badly cooked in water and without salt. Apart from the barbarous treatment suffered by the prisoners, the majority suffered from distinctly characteristic illness, such as : general anasmia, ulcers, and boils. There were many deaths on this account. Those sick who were absolutely incapable of working were placed apart and received no treatment. By order of the German doctor, who could only see those whom the officers allowed to report sick, once a month, a few rare pills were given. The author of this report never saw a sick person get better at Breendonk; the men affected were not allowed to see the doctor. The writer was in this category.

We were arrested, forty-one men of the Brussels postal service, on September 1 1942, the majority about 4 a.m. at home, by agents of the Gestapo of Brussels. We were conducted to the Gestapo HQ, Avenue Louise, and after verification of our identity, taken in lorries to Breendonk. The writer was beaten up the first morning at Breendonk. We were searched and all our personal objects, including jewelry, was taken away from us. We were given a number and prison clothes; Belgian soldier trousers and tunic, with a number in big figures on the left side and a colored badge, a similar badge being on the back of the tunic. These badges signified either : Jew (yellow and red); Communist (white and red); Terrorist (large ‘A’); having previously escaped (red and white ring). If one was not a Jew one was a communist. That was the definition adopted by the Gestapo. Without being interrogated, we were immediately treated as though we were guilty, receiving ill-treatment and beatings and vile food. We were interrogated after about two and a half months. These interrogations were carried out in a brutal manner; we were tortured and beaten, without knowing the reason for our arrest. Within a few weeks, half of our party had already been admitted into hospital, incapable of working. At the end of four months, the following were dead : Chockaere Pierre, Brussels, Postman, died from blows received from SS Wijss; Bonnevalle Jacques, Brussels, Postman, died from blows received from SS Wijss; Tissen J, Brussels, Postman, died from blows received from SS Wijss; Decreef Sebatien, Brussels, Sorter at Brussels post office, died from blows received from SS Wijss.

Shortly after, in January 1943 : De Pondt Albert, Brussels, Postman, died after having been beaten up and following a general poisoning of the system; Van Boven Jean, Antwerp mason, died from blows received from SS Wijss. (A few of the forty-one postmen were liberated in November, 1942; about fifteen at the end of January 1943; some in February 1943; some in March-April 1943; the writer in June 1943; the last one of the group to be freed).

The majority are still under treatment and are incapable of resuming their duties at the Post Office. Some have to follow special treatment, injections, and careful dieting. The writer of the present report, at the time of his arrest, measured 1,72 M and weighed 82 kilos. When liberated, he measured only 1, 69 M and weighed 48 kilos. The writer was in a lamentable condition, his head still open from boils and the blows received, his chest open and damaged and badly scarred. His legs are damaged and even to this day his incapable of walking without the help of a stick.

During the month of March 1943, the writer saw the SS Wijss set upon the prisoners and kill five of them in the afternoon. These scenes were not rare for in September, during his first days of captivity, the writer saw a prisoner who, savagely beaten, did not get up on the order of the SS and was covered over with earth and stamped upon. Buried alive. It is not known what became of this unfortunate prisoner whom it was forbidden to assist, under pain of death. It was also forbidden to look. Another was drowned and his head split open by blows with a spade. Those were more frequent events and to relate them all would require more than a report.

It is also to be noted that the officers and the SS robbed the prisoners of their food; the prisoners having been obliged to give up their ration cards for general use of the camp. Even parcels sent by the Belgian Red Cross were stolen by the SS personnel and the officers. The writer saw two baskets of biscuits from a Red Cross parcel given away for the cows.

The prisoners who were shot at Breendonk were killed during the period from November 1942. The execution posts, ten railway sleepers, were erected by the prisoners. On the day these execution posts were erected, ten prisoners were shot at 3 p.m. Amongst them were men who that very morning did not know they were condemned to death, and had themselves assisted in placing the posts. The writer has seen more than eighty men leave for the execution post. Amongst those, the Head Postmen of Brussels, Hermans, also Martian Van Schnelle, well-known in the sporting world. All, including a blind man, went to the post upright and proud. The hanging of May 1943, took place during my sojourn a the military hospital of Antwerp.

The undersigned, Lemaitre C. G., Postman at the Central Post Office, Brussels, domiciled at 6, Boulevard d’Ypres, Brussels, born at Brussels on March 3 1896, volunteer for the 1914-18 war, war invalid, President du Conseil du Personnel de Bruxelles 1 postal section, 31 years service at the Post Office, certify on my honor the entire accuracy of the present report and affirm being able to guarantee its authenticity, with the testimony of my colleagues, ex-prisoners of Breendonk.

A copy of the complaint addressed to the Public Prosecutor, Brussels, is attached together with a copy of a paper in which is published an article on Breendonk written by the undersigned (Note : only the letter is attached). Further documents, such as the German order regarding deprivation of office, an additional punishment received at the time of liberation, are available for any useful conference on Breendonk.

Brussels, twenty-first of October, 1944
(signed) C. G. LEMAITRE
Membre du Comite de l’Association des Rescapes de Breendonk, 6 Boulevard d’Ypres

Brussels, September 30 1944
(translated from French)

The Public Prosecutor
Court of Justice
Brussels

Dear Sir,

I, the undersigned, Lemaitre Constant, postman at Brussels 1, born in Brussels March 3 1896, and domiciled at 6, Boulevard d’Ypres, Brussels, ex-prisoner at Breendonk, beg to lodge a complaint against : (1) The German SS Major Schmidt, Commandant of the Camp of Breendonk, responsible for the ill-treatment which I suffered in this camp where I was interned for nine and a half months (from Sep 1 1942 to Jun 12 1943). Even his dog bit me on two occasions whilst I was in his presence without his attempting to prevent the animal from savaging me above the half of the leg. (2) The German SS Lieutenant Schnapshustock. This officer’s functions were those of a torturer and he is responsible for the death of a number of prisoners; he, himself, shot a number with his revolver. (3) The German SS Lieutenant Prauss, who on numerous occasions struck me savagely. (4) The SS Troops of the German Security section, Belgian subjects, employed at Breendonk, responsible for the death of many prisoners, some of whom were killed during the same day. (I have personally loaded onto a cart the bodies of five men killed by the SS one afternoon during the month of May 1943). Amongst these SS Troops an individual named Fernand Wijss, of Antwerp, was particularly notorious. During my stay at Breendonk I witnessed more than thirty deaths to his account. I myself was beaten in such a manner that I had to be transferred to the military hospital in the Avenue Marie, Antwerp. It is a miracle that I and my postal colleagues of Brussels, arrested at the same time on Sep 1 1942, are still alive. Five postmen arrested at the same time as myself, died at Breendonk, as a consequence of the blows and ill-treatment which they received. They were beaten up from the morning onward and died the same evening. (5) Two detainees, Belgian, subjects, employed by the Germans to be in charge of the barrack camp; they beat up the prisoners in a most ignoble manner and stole the prisoners’ food. These two individuals are : Devos Valère, of Gand, and Hermans René, whose last known address was 72, Rue Peter Benoit, Massault. Together with my colleagues, including M. Dewinter, Percepteur Principal des Postes, Brussels, we hope that a rapid and justly severe answer will be made to the present complaint.

(signed) C. Lemaitre
President of the Employees Committee (Postmen) Brussels 1, 6 Boulevard d’Ypres, Brussels

breendonk_flemish_ss
Flemish Nazi SS guard now himself a prisoner in Breendonk after Allied forces overran the notorious concentration camp. Location : Breendonk, Belgium, Date taken : September 1944 (Note from Snafu : This could be SS Fernand Wijss but I don’t know)

Note Caserne Dossin

On July 15 1942, SS Sturmbannführer Philipp Schmitt, who had been a member of the Nazi party since 1925, was made responsible for the organisation of the Dossin Barracks as a transit camp for Jews. Schmitt was also the commander of the concentration camp in Breendonk. He built up such a brutal reputation that General Von Falkenhausen, the military commander of Belgium and Northern France, was concerned about the idea that Breendonk would go into history has the Hell of Breendonk. Terror and violence were the preferred weapons of Schmitt. He also proved this in Mechelen, with the help of experienced SS guards. Ten German SS were in charge of the Caserne Dossin. They were reinforced by members of the Flemish SS. Until December 1942, the outside surveillance was carried out by the Wehrmacht, after which a company of Flemish SS were made available to the camp commander. About sixty Germans and Belgians therefore sufficed to keep the camp under control.

Breendonk-Sign

Appendix E
Statement made by Paul Levy Regarding Conditions in Breendonk
(Note : This statement is an EXACT copy of the original statement which is written in English).

I was brought to Breendonk on Nov 29 1940 coming from the prison of Saint-Gilles, Brussels. As I had neither been tried nor even warned, I wondered about this transfer; the Gestapo-feldwebel in charge answered that it had been decided to keep me in Schutzhaft (protective custody) for the duration of the war. There were at the time about sixty prisoners in Breendonk : ten of them were Polish and Lithuanian Jews condemned by Belgian judges before the war and brought from Merxplan to Breendonk by the Germans apparently to create a right ‘convict mood’ in the new camp; twenty other Jews of various nationalities (including Germans but no Belgians) and thirty non-Jewish people (mostly Belgian black marketeers plus one German and one Belgian communist). I was beaten during my first day by sentries (rifles), by the SS Lieutenant Prauss (bare hands and feet) and to my great amazement by a fellow prisoner (Obler, the head of my room). The opportunities for being beaten were in the first place ‘not working as ordered’ (barrows not full enough, going too slow, etc.) or ‘answering senior people when addressed’ or ‘not falling in with the quickness and discipline ordered’, etc. Further, I was insulted when at work by the officers and men who took as a general theme for their speeches. It is easier to get the Belgian people excited by our paratroops and to have them killed by others with criminal radio speeches than to fight decently on a battlefield. I had to attend a so-called medical examination by a German Army Doctor who declared me fit at a glance.

The general regime at the time was hard. Here is the time table of the camp during the first months :

0600 stand up; washing; dressing; making of beds; cleaning of rooms; preparing for breakfast
0700 breakfast
0730 P.T.
0750 Fall in; work given out
0800 to 1200 Work; removing earth from inside to create courtyards and bringing it outside to build a wall round the fortress
1230 Lunch
1300 to 1800 Work as in the morning, cleaning of tools and uniforms falling in and roll call
1900 Supper

The menu was :
Breakfast : Four ounces bread; two cups ersatz coffee (grilled acorns)
Lunch : Two plates soup (with beans, onions, potatoes, very few minced meat) (Beginning on Sunday (in 1940 only) lunch with a small piece of meat and vegetables)
Supper : Same as breakfast
Parcels allowed in 1940 once a week

As work was hard and under the constant strain of surveyors (soldier, SS and heads of rooms) the prisoners were in a poor physical condition. Since food was really deficient in comparison to the labor involved they lost weight, got small blisters, bleeding gums cold feet (remaining cold during months), ‘unsensible’ toes and fingers, swollen hands and feet in the evening, swollen faces in the morning. This general bad condition went worse and worse and was practically at its worst in Spring and Summer 1941 when the camp was overcrowded (patriots, communists, and Russians) and when the outside parcels were wholly suppressed. In March 1941, I wrote in a clandestine letter : ‘Here the regime is growing worse and worse. There is a real rain of punishments. Today, precisely at the time when I saw you on the road a prisoner 63 years old was beaten to death..’ That was really the first death of the camp (a German called Nathan).

After months (more than five months) of suppression of outside parcels, the prisoners were allowed on Sept 9 1941 to write home asking for a parcel including ‘two shirts, two pants, two pairs of socks and four apples’.

This regime produced not only a permanent morbid state but turned prisoners to ‘footmad people’ : they grew really manic about food, some of them kissing and keeping food from home until it was rotten while they were starving, other ones studying during days the way of eating a cake before actually cutting it, still other ones cutting their bread rations in very thin slices or in tiny little cubits, etc. One of the most amazing and demonstrative cases was the case of a young German Jew (Edgar Hirsch – 19 years old) who after six months in Breendonk was brought back to St Gilles prison to carry out a fortnight solitary confinement he was condemned for coffee black marketing; being brought back to Breendonk after three weeks absence, we realized that he got fat in jail although the food there was not at all first class, far from that.

Very often the officers imposed collective punishments : when a prisoner had escaped, or when too many people were found getting grass or leaves to eat or when the amount of work done was supposed to be insufficient. These collective punishments were for example : working on Sunday, running and going up and down, lying flat and standing up at whistle, working through the whole day without eating before night. Individual punishments were the different varieties of arrests (combinations of work and eating and sleeping in a cell), standing before the wall (the nose two inches from the wall) at attention and fingers straightened out.

408-001

Some of the sentries took opportunity of the fact that the prisoners had to ask for permission of attending personal needs in a prescribed form (standing at attention, cap in right hand, three yards from the sentry and with prescribed words – Sir sentry, I ask you most respectfully to be allowed to go out for a while – not to answer or to refuse to grant that permission; as the prisoners were awfully weak that meant a new kind of an ordeal. One of the favorite collective of personal punishments was performing P.T. with straightened out arms having heavy tools (pickaxes or shovel in the hands). An other one was ‘race on the belly’ with guards whistling, yelling, and running all around the punished people.

As I told you before the first prisoner who ever died in Breendonk was beaten to death, other ones committed suicide (one by hanging, one drowned, one by jumping from the roof where he was working), one was shot by mistake by a drunken sentry but his corpse was used to impress the other prisoners as having tried to escape, but most of the people who died were actually exhausted (some grew mad) and no accurate figure can possibly be given since they died in the infirmary (not created before March 1941) in the Hospital at Antwerp or in the military hospital – Brussels.

Jews and Aryans were grouped in different sections first in Dec 1940. In August-September 1941, two different infirmaries were created, but the Jewish prisoner Dr. Adolf Singer remained in charge of both. About special cases of ordeal, I saw the following ones : A young Flemish worker guilty of stealing a German Army motor car (apparently), tried to steal the pistol of an NCO. He was beaten successively by the SS Officers and NCOs, by the army NCOs, by the soldiers, by some of the German Jewish heads of rooms. One of the last ones claimed to have washed his bleeding face with vinegar. We had to parade before the practically unconscious man, standing at attention before the wall on which he was beaten.

Four Kilos potatoes having been stolen by people of room 4 while they were peeling them, the whole room (thirty-two prisoners at the time) was condemned to perform PT without eating during a whole Sunday from 0800 to 2000). One of the prisoners being very week and having caught a cold asked to remain lying in the morning (at the time no infirmary existed). He remained in his bed up to the roll call when the lieutenant growing furious got him out half-dressed in the courtyard and threw cold water on him to ‘get him up’. The prisoner (N. 64) died a few hours later.

On an evening roll call the order ‘caps off’ was repeated nineteen times because one of the prisoners being completely exhausted always came late. This prisoner was not allowed to attend the sick ward. He had no strength enough that night to have his supper. The following morning he was found dead. A prisoner found guilty of eating grass was beaten, put in a wheelbarrow, and in that way thrown in the water. He succeeded in getting out remained Mute during a few days. Suddenly he recovered but he was mad and he insulted the Germans into French, he spoiled his clothes, etc. He was brought to a cell. Next day he was released from the cell and got ‘light work’. Two days later he committed suicide by hanging. Two brothers of Antwerp (Lithuanian) were arrested together (brothers Sbirsky). The first one physically weak not knowing French nor German was asked to report at the Gestapo. His brother stronger and knowing French, Flemish, and German, decided to accompany him. Both were arrested and sent to Breendonk without being interrogated. The first one had to sing for the benefit of the staff. He had to work as well and died completely exhausted. His brother became mad. The lieutenant told their mother that he was keeping them under his personal protection.

Some prisoners tried to fake a greater weakness than the real one. It didn’t help at all since the SS were never impressed by it but on the contrary tried to get weak people completely down. An Antwerp pedlar (I. Neumann N. 22) a dwarf quite insane, was brought to the camp for being too late outside in Antwerp. He was used as a puppet by the staff who had him dancing when visitors came or singing. He got light work but enjoyed bad treatment from the head of the room N.1. Very often he didn’t get any breakfast since his bed was not done according to the rules (he was really unable to do it). Of course he was unable to perform any decent PT (He didn’t find out the difference between right and left). And very often he was physically punished for it. He died completely exhausted after five or six months.

(signed) Paul M. G. Levy

Appendix F
Extract from a Statement Made by Madame Paquet, 28 rue de Zéphir, Woluwé Saint Lambert, Brussells, October 30 1944
(Translated from French)

At Breendonk I lived in a cell (Room 8 – Cell 16) upright from 6 o’clock in the morning till 8 at night and sleeping at night without covering or mattress. During my stay I had on handcuffs both day and night : they were only taken off for ten minutes in the morning to allow me to empty the white metal cover-less bucket which served as a latrine. This emptying took place in the inside of the camp, where I was led by an armed soldier, my head being covered by a hood.

I was interrogated six or seven times in the SS room. This was a round room without windows with a table and a bench on which SS sat as spectators. On the left at the end was a pulley attached to the ceiling from which passed a rope ending in a running knot. My hands were tied behind my back with big wood fiber handcuffs which were passed through the running knot. Entirely naked I was lifted above the ground and beaten with a rubber truncheon covered in leather and wielded by Major Schmidt, Lieutenant Prauss and the SS Wijss and Debodt. In the course of one of these interrogations, I had my nails crushed in a kind of iron letter-copying machine. After the first interrogation the medical orderly Vliegers gave me an injection in the breast. Thinking that it was intended to stupefy me, I took advantage of a moment’s inattention to put my fingers down my throat thus making myself vomit. I heard the orderly say to Major Schmidt ‘It’s no good, the injection makes her sick’. In addition I, as well as my cell companions, received almost every day punches and truncheon blows, which among other things, broke my teeth. In the course of the daily outing to empty the bucket I received a bayonet wound in the arm, the sentry thinking that I was lifting up my hood. Another time he struck me with the stock of his rifle in the back of the neck, resulting in a curvature of the spine.

Notes : (1) The press found at Soignie which is referred to in paragraph 47 of the report was taken to Mme Paquet. She identified it as identical with the instrument with which her finger nails had been crushed off. She was loath to look at it for long and expressed a wish that it might be taken away as quickly as possible. (2) Mme Paquet was a member of the Underground Movement.

This is the Press you can see in the Fort Breendonk Museum. This photo and the one bellow doesn’t need caption. Both were sent to me by M. Olivier Van der Wilt from the Breendonk Memorial.

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Appendix G
Notes Made as a Result of two Interviews with Adolf Singer
60 Place Colignon, Brussels
M. Singer was an Austrian Jewish Doctor

Note : The original notes were signed by Dr. Singer
Entered Breendonk : March 3 1941
Left Breendonk : March 31 1944

Singer was arrested for entering Belgium from France without the permission of the GERMAN authorities. He was released by the arrival of Allied troops in Belgium, he was at Caserne Dossin in Malines, preparatory to being sent east. Singer did not know where the bodies of Breendonk victims were taken for burial although to his knowledge some three hundred people were shot and about fifteen hanged during his time at the camp.

In practice in Vienna as a doctor before the Anschluss, Singer was appointed to assist in the Breendonk infirmary. He held this post for a year and a half. In this capacity he entered the torture chamber to treat the victims of the ordeal. To his knowledge five or six women were tortured in this room and received just as brutal treatment as the men : suspension, lashings, beating, etc. During the winter of 1942/1943 he personally attended a Belgian woman, a lawyer’s wife, who had been severely beaten after being suspended from the pulley on the ceiling. He treated her in her cell. Her thighs were badly marked. She was later sent to Germany. He treated Mme Paquet for heart trouble. (see bellow).

Singer was only allowed to attend non-political prisoners. He worked with the following medical orderlies : Kemp : a good man who did as much as he could for the prisoners under his care. Felsegger : a really bad character who beat the patients brought before him, the worst type possible. Fliegauf : a brutal man who ill-treated those under his care. The German doctor who was responsible for the camp in the beginning was one Kochling who really did nothing for the prisoners. He visited the camp twice a week but hardly cared about the conditions. Many men died because of his indifferent attitude. He was succeeded in his job by Major Pohl, a Wehrmacht doctor, who did a great deal to improve conditions in Breendonk and who personally intervened with General Falkenhausen to secure more food for the prisoners. He was a good man.

Singer also knew Mrs Schmidt, the Camp Correpsondant’s Wife, and says she had sadistic tendencies. She would watch the prisoners work and faint from ill-treatment. She noted as her husband’s secretary for a time. She was about five feet six inches in height, and had dark hair and eyes, full lips and had a sensual appearance. Schmidt and Prauss were responsible for making the prisoners stand naked while awaiting medical inspection. They sometimes had to stand for nearly two hours while waiting to be examined. Prisoners were often lousy in spite of attempts at disinfection. Each new arrival from another prison brought more lice with him. The most men at one time in one camp numbered six hundred or slightly more. The most in the infirmary at one time numbered one hundred and fifty. To Singer’s knowledge about five hundred men were killed or died at Breendonk during his time there. He knows of no women who were killed.

After the fall of Stalingrad SS Katschuster gave an order to SS Wijss and SS De Bodt that eighteen Jews and two Aryans were to be thrown into the water because he said the Jews were responsible for the Stalingrad defeat and Russia during the war. Those men were thrown into the water and beaten on the head until they drowned. Dr Singer saw the bodies afterwards.

Signs Used to Mark the Prisoners at Breendonk
(as stated by Dr. SINGER)

Yellow : Jews; White : Aryan; Red : Those suspected of Political activity had a red mark superimposed on the bar. The Jews had one on their yellow bar; White : British sympathizers were denoted by a red V (Compiler’s note : the V stood for Victory : this being German humour); A red circle worn front and rear indicated those that might attempt an escape. This marked the prisoners for special attention and surveillance.

Appendix H
Notes on my Stay at Camp Breendonk
Period April 2 – May 21 1943
by T. Frankignoulle
(Translated from French)

I was arrested at home at 0400 in the morning by a sergeant and two gendarmes. I was taken to the Gestapo Hq, Avenue Louise, where I was put in a garage, face to the wall, guarded by two sentries who were already indulging in brutalities against the men who were brought there. Certain prisoners, who were made to keep their hands in the air for half an hour, were kicked, punched, and beaten with rifle butts. I remained standing without moving until midday. Then the men were loaded into lorries – forty-eight in nine (48 Men and 9 Horses) – and in the most impossible positions. We were taken straight to Breendonk. On our arrival, the ill treatment began immediately. We were lined up in twos (were seventy-three in number) in the tunnel which leads to the camp, lashes of the whip fell like rain on those who dared to move. The lieutenant set the example. We were immediately sent to the barbers (hair, beards, and mustaches cut off) divested of our civil clothes and everything we had on us, papers, money, etc, and dressed like convicts (khaki trousers and coats with numbers and distinctive signs) after which we were taken to a room containing forty-eight prisoners.

Towards 1400 hours we went outside and were handed over to the Belgian SS who made us do marching drills. We had to throw ourselves on the ground, crawl, etc, this to the accompaniment of many a blow, and without regard to age or state of health. The next day we were put to work : digging, working with the pick, filling and wheeling barrows and carrying baskets, picking up stones, always under the threat of blows. As soon as we arrived we could see the pitiful state of the unfortunate people who had preceded us. Some were covered with sores and boils. The torturers of the camp nearly always set on the same ones. I have personally witnessed atrocities which pass imagination. A Jew one day suffered such martyrdom at the hands of his room, a German Jew called Ohlatt, that he died the following night. The scenes were of daily occurrence. Another day a prisoner was caught by a Flemish laborer who worked on the farm, whose name was Amelinckx and horribly beaten for having taken a piece of swede.

An SS called Peleman who came along, fell on the unfortunate man with blows and kicks, leaving him covered with blood. Almost daily we heard the frightful cries of men and even women, who were undergoing the most terrible tortures in the rooms designed to make them talk. I remember the cries of one woman which left a most atrocious impression on my mind. We were ill nourished and after a few days almost the whole of our contingent were the victims of lice. We had to carry out the most filthy tasks, empty the ditches of dung-water, etc. In the yards where we worked our hands were easily injured. We received no treatment and on our return to camp we were made to clean our shoes, shovels and picks, etc, in a great trough full of muddy water containing the remains of urine and other impurities.

A day rarely passed but the prisoners, lined up in the courtyard, had to witness the punishment of one or other of the men, called from the ranks to receive, bent over double, up to twenty-five or thirty strokes of the stick. It was nearly always SS Wijss who was allotted this atrocious job, which he carried out with unparalleled fury. The day after he was beaten in this manner, a man whose back was but one single sore, was made to work all day at the hopper with a sackful of bricks. He received many a blow in the course of that terrible day’s work. We were not even quiet at night. Several times we were woken and beaten for a trifle.

One day all our room were punished by the ‘atone job’. That day we were put on loading stones, some weighing up to 30 kilos (sixty-six pounds) on our shoulders, and carrying them seven hundred yards away. This work had to be carried out at the run. This lasted two and a half hours.

My wife sent me various parcels of clothing and food. Nothing, however, was given to the prisoners.

At the beginning of the month of May the prisoners who were working as carpenters had to prepare the scaffold and gallows intended for some people condemned to death. I myself worked on the clearing of ground which the NAZIS were preparing for the place of execution. It was opposite to the ten posts where numerous Belgians had been shot before. On May 10 1943 they made us stop work sooner than usual. SS De Bodt had told us there were to be three hangings. The Germans had made a real ceremony of it. There were many officers and members of the Gestapo there to witness the execution. I saw from my window the procession crossing the courtyard. Poor Fraiteur, who walked first of the three condemned (they all had their hands tied behind their backs) was led by the left arm by the lieutenant, and by the right arm by a member of the Gestapo. The second was held by SS Wijss, the third by SS De Bodt, and both of them by a member of the Gestapo.

15 Minutes later the procession re-passed through the courtyard. A car contained the coffins of the three victims. The next day I was able to ascertain that they had been hung with chains.

The Medical Officer, Schmidtt, had a big Alsatian. This dog cruelly bit several internees. The lieutenant, Brauss, speaking to the dog, said in so many words ‘Would you like to tear them all to pieces’. The Medical Officer’s wife often walked about the yards all dressed up. A little girl, daughter or relative of the Medical Officer was also seen on this ground. She might have been twelve or thirteen years old. The surgery was open in the mornings. The sick or wounded hesitated to go there. Sometimes you got blows there. Sometimes the corporal medical orderly exempted a man from work. But he had to go on parade in the courtyard. It was the lieutenant who decided in the end. This he sometimes did with strokes of the stick.

Some men were hungry. They picked up whatever they could, grass, roots, leaves, potato peelings or even bones buried in the manure. A dead lamb, stripped of its fleece, was buried. Some prisoners having seen this, disinterred the lamb and ate it.

I remained two months at Breendonk and three months at the Citadelle De Huy. My health was affected by it. I had to give up my employment as a civil servant for seven months. I underwent an intestinal operation in July 1944. I am still to this day underweight by about thirteen pounds.

(signed) T. Frankignoulle
34, Rue de Parme, Saint Gilles, Brussels
November 3 1944

Notes by the compiler of this report : (1) This is the only evidence produced of a Medical Officer named Schmidtt. (2) Lieutenant Brauss referred to is really Lieutenant Prauss.

Appendix I
Statement Made as a Result with Emily Scieur
27, rue Massart, Monceau-sur-Sambre
November 25 1944
Entered Breendonk : December 21 1942
Left Breendonk : December 17 1943

During this time five months were passed at the Sainte-Marie Hospital at Antwerp. He was arrested for terrorism.

Scieur underwent a first questioning in the torture room where he was hung by his hands bound behind his back. In this position he received numerous blows from a lash which rendered him unconscious. A second questioning was later attempted with the same methods as the first. No satisfaction was obtained. It became known to the SS guards that the prisoners in Scieur’s room were complaining that packages sent to them had been stolen by the SS personnel. This was true as no package that was sent was ever received. For the above reason thirteen men from the room were taken to the torture chamber for punishment and example. During this phase Scieur had his teeth broken by blows from the fists of the SS guard Wijss. While working outside, the SS guard Wijss rolled a stone of some fifty kilos down onto the prisoners. This stone broke Scieur’s left leg. Badly looked after, the leg turned gangrenous and necessitated Scieur’s removal to a hospital in Antwerp. The treatment at the military hospital was much better than at Breendonk. He is at present incapable of any work. Scieur stated that one De Monceau, a Belgian prisoner accused of spying, was crucified to a wall by means of iron shackles. De Monceau was kept against a wall day and night and fed only enough to keep him alive. He had to perform all his functions in this spread-eagle position. His arms turned gangrenous and finally he was taken away and shot.

Appendix J
Extract from Statement by Emile Renard, Policeman in Jumetbr />
(Translated from French)

I was forced to do hard labor during my period of detention, being given such tasks as carrying sacks of sand, broken pieces of concrete slabs, etc. In spite of the work our guards (Flemish SS De Bodt, Wijss, Pellemans, etc) and the German officers in charge of the camp, beat us constantly with lashes. I was myself often beaten and one day in February 1943 received twenty-seven strokes of the lash for not observing the prison rules and again in April 1943 when I was made to go into what was called the torture chamber where I received twenty-five strokes of the lash on the back and around the kidneys. I was made to bend over a desk for this purpose. After having been beaten, SS Wijss slipped a running knot around my head and neck and by means of a pulley suspended me from the ceiling jerked me up and down several times while I was strung up. Finally exhausted and weakened I was admitted to the camp infirmary on April 23 1943 and from there was sent to the hospital at Antwerp from which I was released on the June 27 1943 and returned to the Breendonk infirmary where I remained until July 3 1943, the date of my release.

(Note) Flemish SS Marcel De Saffel[/caption]SS-Wijss, SS-De Saffel, SS-Lampaert, SS-Pelleman, SS-Brusselears, SS-Raes, SS-Van Praet, SS-Carleer, SS-Obler, SS-Lewin, SS-Hermans, SS-Vermeulen convicted of Atrocities and sentenced to dead (Malines Military Atrocities Trail) and executed on April 12 1947. Also sentenced to dead were SS-Van Neck Frans et SS- Vandevoorde Gaston. Both were not executed. Also sentenced to dead (contumacy) : De Bodt Rijkaard and Devos Valéry (Valéry’s sentence was annulled on February 9 1955 because he died already on August 12 1940 in Camp Buchenwald)

Appendix K
Precis of a Statement made by Paul De Rudder
105, rue du Palais, Brussels
(The original statement is in French)

He was arrested on May 16 at 1030 hours and taken to the HQ of the Secret Field Police at the rue Traversière, Bruxelles. He was accused of espionage. Unfortunately some incriminating papers were found in his possession. He was interrogated daily in the rue Traversière from May 16 to May 20 during the course of which he received no food. Each night he was sent to the St Gilles prison, in Bruxelles.

During the first interrogation the Germans hit him with their fists and truncheons. During the second day they tied him to a table and flogged him, then took down his trousers and flogged him with a cat O’nine tails. During the third interrogation a wet towel was tied round his head and a metal bar passed through the knot. The metal bar was twisted until he fainted. He was revived by kicks in the kidneys. During the course of the fourth interrogation his bare feet were whipped. During his fifth interrogation he was beaten with a rubber truncheon until he fainted. He was then sent to St Annes Barracks in Laeken, where the medical officer attended to his wounds.

After about a fortnight he was again interrogated and his healing wounds broken open again. On September 1 he was sent to Camp Beverloo where he received no food for two days. He was released by the Belgian Gendarmes on September 4. On his release De Rudder found that the Germans had stolen all his savings about 18.000 Belgian Francs together with his furniture and personal belongings.

Appendix L
Precis of a Statement by Major Van Rooshbroeck
96, rue Paul Devigne, Bruxelles
(The original statement is in French)

He was first arrested in May 1942, and was released in May 1943. He was accused of organizing the departure of Belgians for England and imprisoned in St Gilles where he was taken from his cell and interrogated daily for a week. He received many kicks, his hands and feet were bound and he was thrown into a corner of the office where he was punched in the face from time to time. They also hit him with an iron rule while his hands were manacled. He was so bruised that it was impossible for him to lie down.

He was then sent to Merkplas from where he was liberated a year later, but three weeks after being set free he was again arrested and accused of working against the Germans. The ill treatment started again. He was sent a second time to Merksplas but he found it difficult to recover from the ill treatment of St Gilles. From here he was sent to the Camp Watetn (Pas de Calais area) where there were four hundred Belgians and seven hundred Frenchmen guarded by Belgian, French, and Russian traitors. There were one hundred men in each barrack room, who slept on straw mattresses which were riddled with vermin. Van Roosebroeck still has marks of many bites. One bucket acted as latrine for one hundred men. Soap was quite unknown.

Reveille was at 0500. All men were forced to work unless their temperature was over 102. Any man who said he was ill without the required temperature was made to empty a latrine with a sardine tin. He was then made to fill a pail and run and empty it two hundred meters away. All this accompanied by blows. Another punishment was moving stones weighing three hundred kg. They were allowed to rest for a few minutes every hour. Some men were made to stand against a post ‘arms raised’ for eight hours, any sign of weakness bringing blows. Each man had a food card which was punched at meal times but for any sign of slackening the card was taken away and the man received no food.

On leaving Merksplas each prisoner received a bottle of coffee. One day the men were made to line up the bottles which were shot to pieces by the guards with light machine guns. The prisoners were made to pick up the pieces and were beaten for not working fast enough.

The torture chamber was a walled in pen were many received intensive beating from a Belgian ‘Camille Covaerts’ aged twenty who was assisted by a Dutchman. All new arrivals had to pass in front of him whilst he assured them that he took a personal interest in them and gave each man a punch in the face.

Van Roosbroeck was freed in January 1944 being since his release a complete wreck. Since his release he has been in bed and is at present in a hospital.

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Appendix M
Precis of a Statement made by Hubert Genis
9, rue du Duc, Bruxelles
(The original statement is in French)

He was arrested on February 18 1944, at 0730 and was taken to the St Gilles Prison where he waited until 1800 without food. About 1830 he was taken by car to the Geheime Feldpolizei, rue Traversière, where interrogation began at once. He was asked to admit that he was a member of the M.N.B (Belgian National Movement).

He was taken to Ste Anne’s Barracks at Laeken where a sack was placed over his head, and he was tortured for three hours. To begin with he was clothed but as he refused to speak he was stripped, laid face down on the table and the tortures started again and only finished when he fainted. Genis underwent ten such interrogations during one of which they tried strangulation with a scarf twisted at the back of the neck by an iron ruler. The patient thought that his head would burst and lost consciousness. During another interrogation he had a testicle injured by a kick.

Appendix N
Precis of a Statement made by Raymond de Ponseca
20, rue de Montenegro, Bruxelles
(Police Officer at St Gilles Prison)
(The original statement is in French)

He was arrested on February 17 1944, whilst convalescing after an operation for peritonitis. He had already been arrested in 1942 and 1943 as a hostage and shut up in Louvain and Huy. He was denounced to the Germans as being chief of a resistance movement. He was sent to the Caserne Ste Anne at Laeken and taken at once into the interrogating room where he was placed on a table and beaten with a stick. As he refused to talk they twisted his scars and opened a wound which discharged for a long time. He received no medical attention.

For a month he was submitted to daily torture. Several times he had to remain standing, handcuffed, with his hands raised for several hours. At the slightest sign of weakening he was beaten with a bludgeon or a lash or a thick cord of wet plaited leather. On two occasions after being beaten for several hours, his head was plunged into a bath of water whilst he was still chained. After being revived with brandy he was sent back to his cell. Strangulation was also practiced. A scarf being wrapped around his neck and twisted at the back by means of a rule until he became unconscious and was revived with brandy. He was made to stand against a wall for seven hours during which time he was revived with brandy. After each interrogation he was too weak to walk and had to be supported to his cell. As he refused to talk they threatened him that they would injure his wife and children.

Appendix O
Precis of a Statement made by Léopoldine Aulotte
342 Chaussée de Bruxelles, Forest
(The original report is in French)

Mme Aulotte hid and fed Guy Van Den Plas for some time but later he denounced her to the Germans, who confronted her with her denouncer. She was taken to the Gestapo Office, Avenue Louise, on March 3 1944, by a certain Fraulein Fohr and driven there by a ‘Dubois Taxi’ (the driver of which she could recognize again) and thrown into a cellar where she remained for a day and a night without food. At the time of her arrest she had been given a document of extreme importance. During the forty-eight hours she was in the cellar she managed to swallow it.

The first interrogation lasted from 0900 until 1600 the next day – she subsequently had to remain standing for twenty-four hours. Her interrogator was a German called Pieters who accused her of espionage and hiding English parachutists. For this questioning she was stripped naked and her hands were handcuffed behind her back. As she refused to speak she was struck with a bludgeon until she fainted. After hours of interrogation and persisting in her refusal to talk, Pieters, and with rage, gripped her by the throat. Four similar interrogations followed. Each time she was stripped naked and beaten with a heavy stick and a cat O’nine tails. Ten teeth were broken whilst her right leg was covered with sores. During the last interrogation she was confronted with her denouncer but she still remained silent and in consequence she was condemned to be shot in Germany. She was put in a cattle-truck of the last train which was unable to leave Bruxelles owing to the rapid advance of the British into Bruxelles and sabotage of the line on the part of Belgian patriots.

The Germans stole from her 4000 francs and her jewelry and also stole 8000 francs from her husband. She has a medical certificate dated October 24 1944, giving details of her state of health.

Camp Breendonk, Belgium : SS Tortures, Specialties for Woman : they spread their legs so far as to dislocate the hips while they beat on the private parts of the Prisoner

Appendix P
Statement made by Lieutenant Baron Albert Greindl of the Belgian Army
Treatment received from the Germans
(Translated from French)

Coming from Great Britain to carry out a mission on the Continent I had the misfortune to be arrested on April 23 last in the south of France and imprisoned in the Citadelle de Perpignan.

The only ventilation in the cell was a hole with a grill above the door but happily the cell was only infested with fleas instead of lice like those of my neighbors. We had ten minutes walk every morning, after having three minutes in which to wash, plus two further minutes in which to empty the pail and attend to the needs of nature (no paper provided of course!). Every eight or fifteen days, according to the work the turnkeys had in hand we had a shower, where, in record time, you had not only to wash, but also try to wash any linen you happened to possess.

As for food, this consisted of a quarter of a litre of coffee or tea at 6.30 in the morning and at 3 o’clock, and half a litre of soup at 11 o’clock; the soup was water with the addition of vegetables or sometimes noodles but fortunately it was always very hot. Besides this you got two hundred grammes of bead to which was sometimes added a spoonful of jam sent by the Secours National.

The second day after my arrest I was taken to the Gestapo of the town of Perpignan. As these gentlemen said they did not believe what I said, they questioned me handcuffed with my hands behind my back, interspersing their questions with punches and slaps in the face, and by taking my head by the hair to knock it against the wall etc … I pretended that I was telling the truth – they took me up to the attic. There they made me take my trousers off, put handcuffs in front, and made me kneel in front of a chair with my elbows on the chair. There were two Germans there. Then they began to beat me with a belt taking care that the buckle of it hit me as hard as possible. They had to take it in turns, as the exercise was warm work, but were determined to do it twice each; they only stopped when the flesh was beginning to burst and was so swollen that my trousers would scarcely go on. They must have been well-informed as to the resistance of the tissues, as eight weeks after all traces had disappeared.

The first sitting over, they took me down to the cellar where a little beam projected from the frame of the door. They put the manacles behind me again and attached them to a cord hanging from this beam and thus gradually hauled me up by the handcuffs, turning my arms backwards. To increase the discomfort of this position they made me swing backwards and forwards until the cord slackened and my foot touched the ground. They then took me down long enough to start the operation again and this lasted until, feeling I was going to faint, I pretended to do so. They laid me on the ground and threw a bucket of water on my head, which made me completely deaf in one ear for three weeks but forced me to open my eyes.

I have not yet, by the way, recovered to the full strength in my arms. They finally said they would finish me off on the spot as I still maintained I spoke the truth. This time they blindfolded me, saying in answer to my refusal to be blindfolded that it was the rule. They allowed me five minutes in which to think, telling of the expiry of each minute. On the fifth they asked me if I had not a last wish to express and I gave the name and address of a lady friend in London in order that the authorities for whom I was working might be advised and they promised to notify the Red Cross of Geneva within three days.

My only reflection was on the excellence of the American fountain pen of the German who lent it me to write down the address. They gave me another three minutes, eyes bandaged again, put away their pistols and the farce was over. They then took a note of my statements and did no more than kick my legs. I was again questioned the next day and only received blows of the fist.

On May 5 I was sent to Fresnes near Paris. For this twenty-four hour journey by rail they gave us two hundred grammes of bread and twice on the way we received a little coffee. I did the whole journey attached by the foot to another prisoner while I shared a pair of handcuffs with a third.
At Fresnes I was shut up in a cell in a part reserved for dangerous prisoners illuminated day and night but luckily with running water and reasonable sanitary arrangements. The food was more plentiful than at Perpignan; the bread was better, with a trace of real butter daily and a litre of soup sometimes fairly thick. Further the parcels of the Red Cross and the Secours National were issued then almost fortnightly.

On the May 8 and the May 11 I was very correctly interrogated at 8 Avenue Foch, Room 8, but on May 12 one of the head men who was little satisfied with what I had to say (the same as I had said at Perpignan) had me taken to a house belonging to the Rothchilds where I had to undergo an icy bath session. Three times I was thrown into the bath head first, feet tied together and hands manacled behind my back, with each time two or three total immersions of the head until I had lost my breath completely. Each time I came out of the bath, these gentlemen, four Frenchmen under the direction of a German, in order to revive the circulation of the blood and respiration, whipped me with thin sticks of green wood all over my body, accompanying this with punches and slaps in the face delivered with all their might. I got away by inventing a new story, which was believed as there was no way of checking on it and thus ended my unfortunate relations with these gentlemen.

I was kept in the cell until June 8, then transferred to a large cell but always in secret. The advance of the Allies and the liberation of Paris put an end to my stay in prison on the August 18.

Captured-Gestapo-Agents-Liège-944
Original Caption : Gestapo agents arrested after the fall of Liege, Belgium, are herded together in a cell in the citadel of Liege. NARA National Archives and Records Administration, October 1944.

Appendix Q
Precis of a Statement by Jean Baptiste Charrin
55 rue de la Borne, Molenbeek
(The original statement is in French)

He was arrested at 0600 on June 3 1944, and was freed from the prison train which never left Brussels at the liberation. He was denounced by one Delrue and accused of espionage and distributing scarlet leaflets. He was taken to 6 rue Traversière, Brussels, (HQ Geheime Feldpolizei) for identification and then to St Gilles Prison. The following day he was dragged from his cell with kicks and blows and his jaw was dislocated. He was taken back to rue Traversière for interrogation. The interrogators tried to make him give the names of his accomplices.

The second interrogation finished with a shower of blows. The third day as he refused to speak he was undressed and put on the table and his hands and feet were tied to a small windlass. The cords were pulled and he fainted. When he was revived in his cell he saw that his trousers were soaked in blood and he was in agony. The muscles on the side of his thighs were torn. He was also burnt on his legs with a cigar. As a result he was so ill that he was in hospital for three weeks but as soon as he was better the interrogating started again.

For thirty-two days he was submitted to questioning and during one of these sessions of torture his vertebrae was put out of joint by kicks. The name of one of the Germans who interrogated him in 6 rue Traversière was Kleinpoull.

Appendix R
Statement made by M. Hubert Laude
Rector for the Colonial University Antwerp
(Translated from French)

I, the undersigned, Hubert A. H. Laude :
– Rector of the Colonial University, Antwerp
– General Secretary of the Royal Geographic Society in Antwerp
– Member of the Royal Colonial Institute of Belgium
– Member of the Institute of National Parks of the Belgian Congo
– Member of the Academy of Colonial Sciences of France

declare on my honour :

I was arrested on August 26 at the Colonial University by the Gestapo and the Geheime Feldpolizei of Antwerp. In my Office, on the order of Captain Inspector Bross of the GFP and in the presence of Lieutenant Barman on the GFP one of the Germans struck me eighteen times with an iron bound stick on the back and on the legs. I received several punches in the stomach and on the head and I had my face slapped on several occasions.

About 1530 I was taken to the Gestapo Building, 22 Av Reine Elizabeth in Antwerp. At the University, my Secretary, Mr Joseph Guffens, and a student, Mr Guyrers were also beaten with an iron-bound stick. At the Gestapo building I was completely undressed and I was taken to a cellar whilst they hit and spat in my face. I remained there until August 28, being beaten with sticks, kicked with heavy boots, knocked out with blows of the fist about every two hours. I received neither drink nor food.

On Monday, August 26, I was taken to Antwerp Prison, in the rue des Beguines. Without being questioned I was taken from there between 1400 and 1700 to the GFP Building in the Av de Belgique. I was interrogated for eight hours a day without stopping from August 29 until September 1.

When I returned to the prison I was forced to clean out my cell every few hours, the guards throwing buckets of water; I had to clean dirty objects with powder which I obtained by rubbing two bricks together. When I stopped a guard came and swore at me and slapped my face. In addition, having lost consciousness on two occasions in the Gestapo Buildings my wounds were soaked in salt which caused intense pain. I had a chain around my neck, my hands, and my feet.

I was condemned to death on Friday September 1 1944 at about 1700. I was to have been shot at Braesschaet on September 3. The priest came into my cell on September 2 at about 1900. On September 3 they came and told me that I would be shot in Germany. That night at about 2200 I was taken to the Dem Station and towards 0200 in the morning, as there was no engine, the train could not leave, and I was brought back to the prison. I was freed by the arrival of the first tanks of the British Army on September “3” at about 1500.

The GFP, on the orders of Captain Inspector Bross, pillaged my personal belongings and took many food, jewels, clothing, and personal belongings of my wife and son. They destroyed and sacked the scientific collections of the University, carried off the files, typewriters, money, and food. Most of the loot was divided amongst the secret Field Police by Captain Inspector Bross in my presence in the GFP Building, Avenue de Belgique.

I estimate I have lost at least 5500 francs and the University more than a million francs.

(Note : In the original report the entry of British troops into Antwerp is shown in error as 3 September instead of September 5)

Appendix S
Statement made by Leon Joseph Ernould
3 November 1944
The Treatment he Received from the Germans
(Translated from French)

On the March 9, 1944, I was arrested by the GFP (Geheime Feld Polizei) of rue Traversière, at St Josse Ten Noode. That same day I was interrogated by German policemen in uniform attached to that service who beat me all over. For five days I had to undergo the tortures of these policemen during the interrogations.

On the last interrogation, that is to say on the 14 March, 1944, I was shut up about 0830 in a very small cell, my wrists being chained behind my back. About 1630 I was taken into an office, still at the rue Traversière, where I was again questioned. During the interrogation I was again beaten on the back by the same policemen with a long bludgeon. I do not know the name or rank of these German policemen but I could recognize them if I saw them again. This ill-treatment was meted out to be because I was accused of receiving arms which had been dropped by parachute by the Englsih, and I refused to give the names of my accomplices. Afterwards I was transferred to the prison of St Gilles and then to Bourg Léopold. I did not receive any blows in those last two places.

I still bear the traces of this ill-treatment and to prove it can show a medical certificate given by Dr A. Simar, 24 Rue de Tongres, dated 13.09.1944. I add that I was liberated by the arrival of the English on September 5, 1944.

Appendix T
Precis of a Statement made by Emile Labre
Treatment Received from the Germans
(Translated from French)

He was arrested in November, 1943, and taken to St Gilles Prison, Bruxelles, where he spent five days in a dark cell without any bedding. He was interrogated daily when he was beaten and his fingers crushed. He was transferred to an ordinary cell later. He was taken every two or three days to the Gestapo HQ in the Av Louise, Bruxelles, for interrogation during which time he was hit on the face and subjected to similar ill-treatment.

One night he was taken to a place where he was put into a dark room and again questioned and beaten. “Afterwards my hands were fastened behind my back by means of handcuffs. They passed a slip knot through the handcuffs and then lifted me up off the ground. Before this they had tied to my back a haversack containing paving stones. Whilst I was hanging I was naked about my activities, the head of my group and my connections. I still denied everything and that cost me blows in the sides with the butt of a revolver. They then let me crash onto the ground where I lay flat, exhausted and unable to move. It was due to this that I broke my wrist. A German doctor set his wrist and next day he returned to St Gilles.

He was continually interrogated until he was released in March 1944. His right wrist has not mended properly, he is deaf in the right ear, and he has a bump on his forehead. He has a doctor’s certificate dated July 30 1944, giving details of his disabilities.

Appendix U
Precis of a Statement made by Abbé Jules Quintet
Treatment Received by the Germans
(The original statement is in French)

He was arrested by the Gestapo from Charleroi on June 23 1943 on the charge of assisting parachutists. He was knocked about because the school children made a demonstration whilst he was being taken away.

He was taken to the Gestapo HQ and on June 27 transferred to Charleroi Prison. On December 27 1943, he was taken to St Gilles Prison, Bruxelles.

He was interrogated many times and had his teeth knocked out; matches put under his finger nails then lighted, feet twisted. The Germans threatened to torture his mother and sister if he refused to talk. The Germans alleged that he was immoral.

On Dec 6 1943 they invited him to take the Catholic prisoners’ confessions in Charleroi Prison. He refused so they dressed up a member of the SS as a priest and he heard the prisoner’s confessions. He states that the mental torture was even worse than the physical. He was put on the train for Germany which never left Bruxelles station and was freed by the British entering Bruxelles.

Appendix V
List of Permanent Staff at Breendonk Concentration Camp

1. Major Schmidt : An SS Officer who was Commandant. A very heavy drinker. He rarely hit the prisoners himself. He left matters much to his Lieutenant Prauss. Schmidt had a very fierce Alsatian dog which he used to set at the prisoners who were frequently bitten. Schmidt took part in the torture of Mme Paquet. Schmidt returned to Berlin early in 1944.
a. from 1940 – early 1944

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. FRANZ FISCHER/B
II. C. LEMAITRE/D
III. Mme PAQUET/F
IV. Mme VERDICKT/W
V. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
VI. F. A. AMELINCKX/AA
VII. L. O. MOENS/BB
VIII. Member of Security Police/FF

2. Major Schonweiter : Succeeded SCHMIDT as Commandant. He struck prisoners and stole their belongings. He stole most of the Red Cross parcels sent to the Camp and used to declare to the Red Cross incorrect numbers in order to obtain a greater number of parcels.
a. 1943 until 2 or 3 Sept 1944

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
– i. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
– ii. L. O. MOENS/BB & CC
– iii. Number of Security Police FF

3. Lieutenant Prauss (or perhaps Brauss) : An SS Officer who was a native of Berlin. He was considered one of the most brutal of the Guards. He was continually flogging prisoners and was recognized for the deaths of many. He took part in the tortures of Mme Paquet.
a. 1940 until 2 or 3 Sept 1944

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. C. LEMAITRE/D
II. Mme PAQUET/F
III. T. FRANKIGNOULLE/H
IV. Mme VERDICKT/W
V. P. J. De SCHUTTER/Y & Z
VI. F. A. AMELINCKX/AA
VII. L. O. NOENS/BB
VIII. Member of Security Police FF

4. Lieutenant Schnapshustock : An SS Officer who acted as torturer. Killed a number of prisoners with his own revolver. It is considered that this man is really Kempfer or Kanchester (Serials 6 or 7).
a. Was there from 1 Sept 1942 – 12 June 43

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. C. LEMAITRE/D

5. Lieutenant Lamditke : Behaved in a brutal manner towards the prisoners. He stole parcels sent to the prisoners. He was replaced by Kempfer (Serial 6)

a. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. P. J. De SCHUTTER/Z
II. L. O. MOENS/BB

6. Lieutenant Kempfer : Was only about three months in the Camp, replacing La Mottke (Serial 5). Was very brutal towards the prisoners.

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. P.J. De SCHUTTER/Z
II. L. O. MOENS/BB

7. Lieutenant Kanchester (or Kanschuster) : Was nearly always drunk. Ill-treated the prisoners, especially the Jews. Was reputed to have killed one prisoner with his revolver. He was only at the Camp about four months.
a. Was there in December 1942

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. A, SINGER/G
II. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
III. L. O MOENS/BB

8. Lieutenant Willens
a. 1940

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. Mme VERDICKT/W

9. Lieutenant Steckmann : Replaced Kempfer (Serial 6). Was very brutal towards the prisoners. He only stayed in the Camp about three months.

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
II. L. O. MOENS/BB
III. Member of Security Police FF

10. Lieutenant Lats : Was not so brutal towards Aryans as some of the other guards but he behaved in a disgraceful manner to the Jewish prisoners. He made the cook give Jewish prisoners less to eat than the Aryans. He can be recognized by his boxer’s nose and his swaying gait. His description is given in Appendix FF. He is a native of Baden-Baden.
a. About six months in 1941 or 1942

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
II. L. O MOENS/BB
III. Member of Security Police FF

11. Hertel : An NCO. He was in charge of transport and equipment. He was not often in contact with the prisoners and it appears that he did not ill-treat them.
a. 1940 until 2 or 3 Sept 1944

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. Mme VERDICKT/W
II. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
III. L. O. MOENS/BB

12. Zimmerman Kurt : A sergeant who was in charge of supplies. He was apparently the most humane member of the staff. Only one case has been reported of his striking a prisoner. On this occasion the prisoner had taken a loaf of bread.
a. 1940 until early in 1942

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. Mme VERDICKT/W
II. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
III. L. O MOENS/BB and CC

13. Muller : Was in charge of the Garrison pay accounts. He received and held in safe custody the prisoners’ belongings. He used to strike prisoners whenever he came into contact with them. He was extremely cruel and brutal.
a. 1940 until 2 or 3 Sept 1944

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. Mme VERDICKT/W
II. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
III. L. O. MOENS/BB

14. Baele of Costacken (near Ghent) : One of the Flemiss SS. Was in charge of the prisoners who cleaned the offices. He struck prisoners daily and killed some of them. In 1944 his attitude towards the prisoners changed as he believed that GERMANY would lose the war. He asked several prisoners to give him letters to the effect that he had always behaved well towards them. As far as is known, no prisoner complied with this request.
a. Arrived in 1941. Left about May 1944.

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
II. L. O MOENS/BB

15. Lampaert of Aantwerp : Flemish SS. An office employee most of the time. He assisted in the interrogation and torture of prisoners. He ill-used any prisoners with whom he came into contact. His description is given in Appendix FF.
a. Arrived in 1941, stayed three years.

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
II. L. O. MOENS/BB
III. Member of Security Police FF

16. Pellemans (or Peigman) : of Keet who lived in Antwerp : Flemish SS employed in the office. He did not ill-treat prisoners as much as some of the guards.
a. Arrived in 1941. He left in 1943

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. T. FRANKIGNOULLE/N
II. E. SCIEUR/J
III. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
IV. L.O. MOENS/BB

17. Baes, Clement : of Laeken, Flemish SS. A very brutal man who was always striking the prisoners. He was responsible, along with SS Wijss and SS De Bodt (See Serials 20 and 21) for the deaths of some of the prisoners.
a. Arrived in 1941 and only stated about 6 months

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. C. LEMAITRE/D
II. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
III. L. O. MOENS/BB

18. De Seffel of Dentelbergen, near Ghent : Flemish SS employed in the office. He assisted in the torture chamber. He was stated to be extremely cruel. He used to read out the death sentences in FLEMISH to the prisoners.
a. Arrived in 1941

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
II. L. O. MOENS/BB and CC
III. Member of Security Police FF

19. Cuyt of Hingene : Flemish SS. Ill-treated the prisoners with blows and kicks.
a. Arrived in 1941

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. P.J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
II. L. O. MOENS/BB

20. Wyss (Wijss or Weiss), Fernand of Antwerp : Flemish SS. All say that his brutality equaled that of Prauss (Serial 3). Lemaitre states that he flogged four Brussel’ postmen so badly that they died. Hoens stated that he killed at least six prisoners. He assisted in the torture of Mme PAQUET. He used to throw prisoners into the moat and when they came out, flog them until they lost consciousness, then cover them with earth in order to smother them. Wijss was a fairly well-known pugilist before the War.
a. Arrived in 1941

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. A. SINGER/G
II. V. TRIDO/A Ð Ser. 29
III. C. LE MAITRE/D
IV. Mme PAQUET/F
V. T. FRANKIGNOULLE/H
VI. E. RENARD/J
VII. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Y & Z
VIII. F. A. AMELINCKX/AA
IX. L.O. MOENS/BB
X. E. SCIEUR/I

21. De Bodt (or Lebot or De Lodtc) Richard of Willebroeck : Flemish SS. His brutality was in the same category as that of Wyss (Serial 20). He used to flog prisoners to death and assisted in their torture. He was one of the torturers of Mme PAQUET. His description is at Appendix FF.

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. V. TRIDO/A SER. 29
II. C. LEMAITRE/D
III. Mme PAQUET/F
IV. T. FRANKIGNOULLE/H
V. E. RENARD/J
VI. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Y & Z
VII. F. A. AMELINCKX/AA
VIII. Member of Security Police/FF
IX. A. SINGER/G
X. L. O. MOENS/BB
XI. Mme DALEMANS/EE

22. Brusseleers of Heyst op Den Berg : Flemish SS employed on outside work with the prisoners. During the last few months of the occupation, there was a tendency for some guards to be less cruel owing to the fact that they began to be uncertain of a German victory. Brusseleers, however, became more brutal than ever and at the end was probably the most vicious of the guards.
a. Arrived in 1941 and left 2 or 3 September

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
II. L. O MOENS/BB

23. Van Hul, of Liège : Flemish SS employed in office work. Behaved brutally towards the prisoners.
a. Arrived in 1941

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
II. L. O. MOENS/BB

24. Westerlinke of Baesrode : Flemish SS. Used to be an insurance agent. There is no evidence of his having ill-treated prisoners and he appears to have behaved decently.
a. Arrived in 1941

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. P.J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
II. L. O. MOENS/BB

25. Van de Voorde, Gaston 1 Prinses Clementinalann, Ghent : Flemish SS. A blond who for a long time was a guard at the telephone exchange and later the entrance to the Gestapo HQ at Antwerp. His home was somewhere near Ghent. He was employed in the office. He struck prisoners and ill-treated them whenever possible. His description is given in Appendix FF. Replaced Lampaert (Serial 15).
a. Arrived about May 1944. Left about 2 or 3 Sept 1944.

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. P. J. DE SCHUTTER/Z
II. L. O. MOENS/BB
III. Member of the Security Police/FF

26. Norman of Berlin : An NCO who replaced Zimmermann (Serial 12). He was about 6 ft 3 ins tall. He used to strike the prisoners continually. His surname is at present unknown; it might, however, be Norman.
a. Arrived early in 1942. Did not stay very long.

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. L. O. MOENS/BB & CC

27. Franz of Strasburg : Arrived after the departure of Norman – Serial 26. He subjected the prisoners to brutal treatment and sold their rations.

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. L.O MOENS/BB & CC

28. Vliegers A medical orderly. Took part in the torture of Mme PAQUET. Singer (Appendix G) the Austrian doctor never knew this man.
a. Was there in 1943

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. Mme PAQUET/F

29. Schmitt Medical officer. Frankignoulle states that Schmitt had an Alsatian dog which flew at the prisoners. Amleinckx and others state that the Commandant Schmidt (Serial 1) had an Alsatian dog which bit the prisoners. Singer, the Austrian doctor (App. G) knows nothing of a doctor called Schmitt. It appears that Frankignoulle had made a error and that there was no doctor called Schmitt.
a. Was there in 1943

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. T. A. FRANKIGNOULLE/H

30. Kochling : A Wehrmacht doctor who visited the camp about twice a week. He was completely indifferent to the prisoners’ fate.

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. A. SINGER/G

31. Phol : A Wehrmacht doctor (a major). He tried to improve the conditions in the camp.

a. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. A. SINGER/G

32. Kemp : Medical orderly Ð a good man who did what he could for the prisoners.

a. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. A. SINGER/G

33. Felsegger : Medical orderly was very brutal towards the prisoners used to strike them when they reported sick. It is believed he succeeded Kemp (see previous Serial).

a. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. A. SINGER/G

34. Fliedgauf : Medical orderly behaved brutally towards the prisoners. It is believed he succeeded Felsegger (see previous serial).

a. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. A. SINGER/G

35. Hertel Major Schmidt’ driver.
a. Aug. 1940

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. Mme. VERDICKT/W

36. Van Neck : driver sold the prisoner’s rations. Helped to kill an escaping prisoner.

a. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. L.O. MOENS/CC
II. Mme. DALEMANS/EE

37. Schunzar : An NCO who behaved brutally towards the prisoners.
a. There in 1944

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. L.O. MOENS/BB

38. Elart : An NCO who behaved brutally towards the prisoners.
a. There in 1944

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. L.O. MOENS/BB

39. Leys : Criminal Commissioner. Is the same as Serial 10?
a. 1940

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. Mme. VERDICKT/W

40. Lieutenant Van Heck SS Is he the same as Serial 36.
a. Departed 2-3 Sep 1944

b. Sources of Information Name/Appendix
I. L. O. MOENS/BB

Appendix W
Paraphrase of a Statement made by Mme Verdickt
Police Antwerp – November 17 1944
(Translated from Flemish)

At the end of August 1940, the fort of Breendonk, near to which Madame Verdickt lived was taken over by the Germans. One day she received a call from Oberlieutenant Scchmidt, later promoted to Major. He was accompanied by his driver Hertel, a member of the Wehrmacht. Madame Verdickt thinks that Schmidt was a member of the Gestapo because he had on his collar and on his kepi a Death’s head. Schmidt asked for a room with board and Madame Verdickt dared not refuse. She wanted to move to another house and went to see Burgomaster Fromont who advised her to stay where she was.

Later six other Germans and also Schmidt’s wife, who was fetched from Germany, came and so the Germans virtually took possession of the whole house while Madame Verdickt was left with one room and a bedroom. The Verdickt family had to do their cooking in the wash-house which also served as a living room. Madame Verdickt was forced to cook for the eight men for twenty-five francs a day. For this sum they insisted on having an egg in the morning and meat at midday and in the evening. Washing was also included in this price. Madame Verdickt naturally could not ‘do make’ for this price and was therefore compelled to buy meat, etc, in the black market. She could not complain as Schmidt told her that if she was asked black market prices, she was to inform him, and he would have his people shut up in the fort.

In addition to Schmidt and his wife the following also lodged in the house : Alfred Hertel, Lieutenant Prauss called the ‘animal tamer’, Oberschartfuhrer Kurt Zimmermann, Sgt Walter Muller, Criminal Commissar Leys and Lieutenant Willems.

During September 1940 the first prisoners arrived at the fort, four in number. Among them was a man called Galante of Brussels. The Sunday after the arrival of the prisoners, Galante’s wife came to leave a parcel for her husband. Madame Verdickt received the parcel after obtaining permission from Schmidt who was drunk. After Madame Galante had left, the packet was opened by Zimmerman but Madame Verdickt took it from him to look at it. She saw that it contained bread, cooked meat, and butter, but she told Zimmerman that there was nothing but bread. He took the packet to the fort and she thinks Galante received it.

At that time they had practically no furniture in the fort and Madame Verdickt believed the prisoners had to sleep on the floor. There was no water and the prisoners had to get permission to come and draw water from her house.

Later on the prisoners were brought in every day amongst whom were Freedman and his two sons. They were tailors from Brussels. It is thought that the father is dead as he was taken to Germany. The sons are now free and came to see Madame Verdickt after the liberation. Among the other prisoners were the Members of Parliament, Van Resevreck and Bouchery of Malines, Fischer of Brussels, Burgomaster Fromont of Willebroeck and René Dillen of Antwerp whom she thinks was taken to Germany. There were many others whom she cannot now remember.

She helped the prisoners when they came to her for water, and although Schmidt’s wife knew this, she did not betray her. Madame Verdickt gave them bread, butter, and meat. She bought the bread for them herself, whilst she managed to save the butter and meat from the Germans who lodged with her. She and her husband sometimes gave their food to the prisoners. They continued to give the prisoners food as long as the men were allowed to draw water from her house, which was until about the end of 1942.

On April 5 1941 the above named Germans left and went to live in the villa belonging to De Nayer who was known as Kastkeltje. Madame Verdickt had then to provide accommodation for Alfred Hertel and Sergeants of the Wehrmacht from time to time. Schmidt wanted her to cook for them at Kastkeltje, but she refused. As long as the Germans lodged with her Madame Verdickt was able to see that Frau Schmidt quarreled with her husband who was a drunkard and had several mistresses. Frau Schmidt was a native of Hoboken in America (compiler’s note : in the state of New Jersey) and her maiden name was Ilse Birckhole. Her husband appears to have always been a ne’er-do-well and she was turned out of his house, or so Frau Schmidt told Madame Verdickt. She once saw Frau Schmidt put a stamp on a document for a man from Duffel, whose name she cannot recall. Frau Schmidt did this without her husband’s knowledge, in order to prevent the young man from being sent to Germany. Later it was discovered that this document was not in order and he was summoned to the Wehreestelle at Antwerp. Madame Verdickt went with him, but they took his papers from him and he had to go to the doctor, but instead he went into hiding.

In 1941 a Jew prisoner from Brussels (Madame Verdickt) does not know his name) told her that he had received so many blows that he was going to try and escape. She could see that his face was very swollen and he told her that it was Prauss who had ill-treated him. He had some clothes placed in a sack in the shed beside the house. After changing and leaving his prison clothes in the shed he asked her what time a bus left for Brussels. He went to Willebroeck and it appears that a poulterer of Schaafstratt called Van Ingelghen who was about thirty-five years old took him by bicycle to the tram at Londerzeel. She learned later from the brothers Freeman that he got away to Switzerland. Enquiries were made and she was obliged to say that she had found the prison clothes in the shed. It was thanks to Frau Schmidt that Madame Verdickt and her husband were not shot, as the German lodgers were drunk at the time and they wanted to shoot them both with their revolvers.

After this, the prisoners were not allowed to fetch water from the Verdickt’s house unless escorted. However, as long as they were allowed to come to the house she hard from them details of the ill-treatment they had to endure at the fort, particularly at the hands of Prauss and Muller.

Major Schmidt had a dog which was trained to bite prisoners in the leg. Madame Verdickt saw it bite them many times. She had a particularly good view of the fort through a back-window of her house and from there she could see the prisoners working. They had to carry stones on their backs and they were beaten by the guards if they did not move fast enough. She could also see the prisoners who were cutting stones. They were superintended by the Flemish SS De Bodt and Weiss who pelted the prisoners from a hillock with stone and wounded them in the head. She saw many with their heads bandaged as a result of this. She heard continual complaints from prisoners concerning De Bodt and Weiss as well as Van Praet of Bornheh who has been arrested and is in prison at Malines. Van Praet was formerly a gardener at the fort but had also been a prisoner. One day a lawyer from Vilvoorde (whose name she does not know) was working outside her door. Van Praet who was guarding the prisoner said ‘Come on lawyer you are not working with a pen now, but with a shovel’. She came between then and Van Praet said to her, ‘You’d better look out, Valeken, or you’ll be doing the same’. (Compiler’s note : Valeken is the same name by which Madame Verdickt is known in the neighborhood).

In May 1944 the Verdickt’s were informed that they would have to leave their house as they were not considered to be trustworthy. The Germans wanted them to go further away from the fort so that they could not see into it. Major Schmidt was replaced by Major Schoenwetter but he never lodged with the Verdickt’s. Major Schmidt is said to have been sent to Denmark but his wife said she would not follow her husband as she wished for a separation.

List of Civilians who were Employed in Breendonk

1. Jan de Schutter (1 Beenheuverstrant Breendonk)
Electrician called in to maintain lighting system and install extra electric light points. For details of his story see Appendices Y and Z.

2. Frans Aloys Amelinckx (Zavklweg Willebroeck)
Employed to look after the pigs, cattle, etc, in the camp. For details of his story see Appendix AA. He is at present held by the Belgian police.

3. Claymans (Willebroeck – now lives at Malines)
Employed as cook and punished, then dismissed for smuggling letters for the prisoners.

4. Moens (Blaabveld – near Willebroeck)
Employed as cook after Claymans was dismissed. For statement see Appendices BB and CC.

5. Van Achter (Tours)
Was employed for a time as a gardener. Was caught by Major Schoenwetter, smuggling letters out of the camp. He was badly beaten and imprisoned for six weeks after which he was discharged.

6. Tierens (Breendonk)
Contractor to the camp. He also belonged to the SS, and gave lectures to the civilian employees and to the Flemish SS. He was very friendly with the first Commandment, Major Schmidt. He fled with the Germans.

7. Carleer Franz (Londerzeel)
Was employed to do general repair work. He made some of the instruments of torture and assisted in making the scaffold in April 1944. He ill-treated the prisoners and reported them to the guards. He fled with the Germans.

Appendix Y
Statement give by Petrus Joannes de Schutter, 1, rue Beenhouver, Breendonk, when Questioned by the Police from Antwerp
(Translated from Flemish)

In August 1940 I was called upon by the Commune of Breendonk to assure the installation of electricity in the camp here. I have never been a member of any political organization either before or during the war. My work here consisted in the maintenance of lighting and the installation of new lighting installations. I have never been called upon to install installations for the torture of the prisoners. Nor have I ever seen such installations. I did once put in a point in a so-called bunker; I heard from prisoners that the bunker served as a torture chamber, and that the point served to work an apparatus which the interrogators brought from Brussels with them. This apparatus was aid to have been put on the most sensitive parts of the body. The voltage in the camp is 220 volts.

Most implements of torture were made by the smith Carleer Franz of Londerel here in the smithy. This person left with the departing Germans. The greatest brutes in the camp appeared to be : Lieutenant Prauss, of German nationality, De Bodt and Wijss, Flemish SS. I did not come into contact with the prisoners. I have never heard the name of the Substitute Sevens of Antwerp. I cannot give you the slightest information about this man. The remaining people were as far as I know taken away by car in the direction of Brussels. What there took place I do not know. I do not think the people were buried in the camp itself.

Appendix Z
Statement given by Petrus Joannes de Schutter, 1 rue Beenhouwer, Breendonk when Questioned by the Police of Malines (Oct 1944)
(Translated from Flemish)

I was summoned by the Commune of Breendonk in August 1940 to put the electrical installation of the Fort in order. In October 1940 the first prisoners came here, namely a group of about thirty Jews. At first there were fairly few staff here, namely Major Schmidt, Prauss, and Hertel, supported by soldiers of the Wehrmacht, who were frequently changed. Later the staff was increased, and also included Lahottke, Lais, Zimmerman, Muller, Kamschuster, and later still Major Schoenwetter. About the middle of 1941 the Flemish SS came, Baele, Lampaert, Pellemans, Raes, De Saffel, Wijss, De Bodt, Brusseleers, Cutt and Westerlinck.

Until about the end of 1943, I went each day to the Fort, if not to work the whole day here, then for a few hours. After the departure of Major Schmidt and his replacement by Major Schoenwetter, I only came when sent for. I no longer enjoyed confidence, and when I came to the Fort I was led to my place of work by a sentry. I had to go all over the Fort to carry out electrical work. I was assisted in my work by one or more prisoners, so I was able to obtain some information as to what went on there. The staff in general stood in a scandalous way towards the people held prisoner. It was blows all day of all sorts. Major Schmidt himself did not hit much, he left it all to Lieutenant Prauss. He did however set his big dog on the prisoners to bite their legs.

Lieutenant Prauss : his cruelty passed all belief. Like all SS men he was always in possession of a crop, a bull’s pizzle threaded with steal wire. Without the slightest reason he used to strike the men. I think the course of the year 1942, I saw him on the right of the cookhouse knock a prisoner unconscious; he kicked and beat him still after he lay on the ground. He decided to bring him back to consciousness, and threw a jug of water over this person. But he was dead. I cannot give the name of this person. This occurrence I saw personally. I have heard say that many prisoners died in consequence of the blows they received from Prauss. I had an assistant Michel de Breyne, an electrician from Schelle, an Escaut workman. He was imprisoned here for eighteen months and then released. He worked all this time with me. I think he came here about August 1942 until February-March 1944. He should be able to furnish extensive information on the conduct of Lieutenant Prauss, for he himself had much to endure on account of it.

Oberlieutenant Kamschuster : He was also very barbarous. It often happened that he was blind drunk and lost all control over himself. The prisoners had a great deal to put up with from him. I cannot say exactly when he commenced his duties here. He did not stay long. He stayed with Verbruggen on the road to Willebroeck. Perhaps you can find out there when he was here. I have heard that Kamchuster shot a Jew dead with his revolver. I did not see that myself. I remember now that he was here at Christmas 1942. In this kitchen he hit Marcel van Hoot of Book hard while he was lying on the ground, and he also got a kettle of boiling water or coffee over him. I do not know whether the kettle fell over him or whether it was upset over him by Kamchuster. Moens should know that better.

Sgt Zimmerman : I only once saw strike, and it was when a prisoner had taken a loaf. Often, on the contrary, I saw that he gave a piece of bread to my assistant De Breyne. He was certainly not one of the worst, and I have heard very few complaints about him.

Lais : He was a rather crafty fellow; he went the gentle way about getting people to make admissions. In general he struck very little. He generally sat in the office interviewing. I cannot say exactly how his conduct towards the Jews was. I found nothing out about it, nor did I hear any complaints. I came little into contact with the Jews. They were shut up separately.

Lamottke : He was a treacherous fellow; he struck the prisoners a great deal, or reported them to Prauss who in his turn proceeded to further ill-treatment. I do not know if he killed anyone outright; I do not think so. I cannot remember when or how long he remained here.

Heroel : He came little into contact with the prisoners. He was in charge of materials, and I heard no complaints of him.

Muller : He was a bad person, and hit as often as he got the chance. He was in charge of pay and came little into contact with the prisoners. On all occasions and pretexts however, he ill-treated the prisoners on every opportunity he got.

Major Schoenwetter : Under his command I had less often to come to the Fort. According to prisoners he also dealt them blows very readily. His chief preoccupation was to acquire for himself the belongings of the prisoners. A lady from the Red Cross, Madame Vreven, often came to ask me how many prisoners were present there, and if they had received certain things. Also Miss Jodogne from Laeken came to ask me similar questions. It appears that all sorts of goods and clothing sent by the Red Cross were retained by Schoenwetter. Each time he went on leave he took with him very big boxes in which all sorts of goods were packed which had been hidden in the Fort.

I think there was also a Lieutenant Kempfer here, but I can no longer remember him.

Lieutenant Steckman also knocked people about.

As for the Flemish SS who came later, that is to say in 1941, Wijss was the worst of all, followed by De Bodt. They went about always whip in hand, and struck in all circumstances and without the slightest reason. Wijss was particularly barbarous; I have seen him strike a man on top of the head so that the blood flowed. From hearsay I know that he sometimes threw a shovel into the water from the fort and made a Jew go in and fetch the shovel out. Many were said to have been drowned in this way. It was generally thought in the fort that Wijss was certainly responsible for the death of about twenty people. It was also said that Wijss and De Bodt had a bet as to who should be the first to kill a Jew. But I heard and saw nothing of this. It was said to have been Wijss who killed the first person.

Each time anybody drowned in the moat they were dragged out. I think I can say with certainty that no corpses remain lying in the moat.

Baele was also very barbarous. He was in charge of the prisoners who had to clean the offices, and struck and kicked wherever he could. But for some time now he foretold the defeat of Germany, and then began to turn, and attempted to find evidence from people that he had conducted himself well towards the prisoners. That had already begun when Dr. Casman and his sons were held prisoners here. On a certain day he brought a piece of bread to the father Casman and asked him at the same time if he would bear witness later that he had been good to him. He also tried to get Michel de Breyne to give him a paper to the effect that Baele had always behaved well at the Fort. De Breyne did not do so. I think he tried to do the same with the other prisoners. It is said that Baele has been arrested at Brussels. That I was told last Sunday by the father-in-law of Marcel van Hoof, who lives at Boom on the way from Niel. Baele was said to have gone to a former prisoner to ask for a certificate that he had conducted himself well, this person had him arrested.

Lampaert was employed in the office and claimed to have been the first to deal out the blows to the prisoners on arrival at the Fort. I have, however, never seen him strike, but I learned from prisoners that he could hit hard.

Of Pellemans I can say little; he was employed in the office and I could never get in there while prisoners were there. I have never heard anything particular of Pellemans from the prisoners, or complaints about him.

Raes I cannot remember.

Da Saffel also worked in the office; his was the most private of the offices and he was particularly barbarous, always dealing blows. I cannot say if he went in the torture chamber with the people.

Van de Voorde : I knew little. He was here in the last four months, a time that I was infrequently here. I can say little about him.

Brusseleers : I cannot remember, I do not think I know him.

Cuyt : I know ill-treated prisoners also.

Concerning Westerlinckx I can say nothing in particular, there were in general no complaints about him.

Van Hul was irascible and brutal, and such ill-treated the prisoners.

Carleer and Van Praet were no better than the Germans or Flemish SS. They also bent and kicked the prisoners, or carried all sorts of stories to Prauss, who ill-treated the prisoners. Carleer made all the torture implements for the torture chamber, and for the cells – shackles for hands and feet. Also the ironwork for the scaffold. The woodwork for the scaffold was made by the prisoners themselves. Van Praet spent his first time here as a prisoner; he then became sort of chief over the other prisoners, whilst he was still detained here. Although he was a prisoner he bullied the other people in the usual way. The Germans saw in him a man of their own hearts, and when he was released engaged him as a gardener. He made himself really barbarous to the prisoners. In the lunchtimes he often sat in the office. He learned that someone from Wallonie was to be released. He made out that he had wangled the liberation, and in this manner managed to get possession of a side of pork from the person. This was generally known at the Fort.

There was an imprisoned Jew, Obler, who had lived at 14, rue Notre Seigneur at Brussels. Through his tale-telling and crawling to the invaders, he managed to get himself made head-man over all the imprisoned Jews, and then in fact over all the prisoners. It was he who was in charge of the work. This he made use of to make money. He could detail prisoners for any work he wished, either carpentry, printing, cooking, or suchlike; in general something other than laboring with earth. These posts were much sought after, for one was less open to ill-treatment. Obler usually sold these advantages. A letter was secretly smuggled out addressed to the family of a person seeking to obtain such a preference. The family were instructed to remit a prearranged sum to Mrs. Obler at Brussels.

By an agreed sign in one of the future packages, it was made known that the sum was paid over, and if this confirmation was received the applicant received the easiest job. He himself grossly ill-treated the prisoners; it might be said that he beat them to death.

The Germans or Flemiss SS were delighted when Obler beat the prisoners. When packages were allowed to be received, these had to be handed to the head of the room, who handed them out to the addresses. He was naturally the head of the room. He first extracted from the packages what he himself could use. About September 1943 I believe he was released and have learned that he found employment with the Security Police in Brussels. When Lieutenant Prauss went for a prisoner with words and Obler was around, he was who struck first. This Obler was really inhuman here.

Here in the fort at regular intervals people were shot. No single member of the personnel (Belgian) could then come into the fort. The executions generally took place very early in the morning. The people who were executed, as well as those who died as a result of sickness or ill-treatment, were all coffined.

I have never seen people being buried in the fort; I do not believe that, people were buried here. The bodies were taken in the direction of Brussels by van, generally a motor van of the Red Cross. Exactly where the people were buried is unknown to me.

I knew no Mr. Sevens here in the Fort, who you say was brought here on the 29 July 1944. I cannot give you the slightest information concerning him.

During the last days before the liberation I came seldom to the Fort. I cannot say how the prisoners were taken away or to what destination; or by whom or in what manner this removal was effected; the last to remain here were about fifteen Jews and these were taken to Malines in a motor bus. The last time I came here was to the office, where I was paid, the Wednesday before the liberation. I did not enter into the Fort, and do not know if the prisoners were already evacuated then.

Appendix AA
Statement giver by Franz Aloys Amelinckx, 6 Zavelweeg, Willebroek when Questioned by the Police in Malines (Oct 1944)
(Translated from Flemish)

I was employed at the Fort at Breendonk from the beginning of the month of August 1941 until the flight of the Germans. My work consisted chiefly of the care of pigs, cows, sheep, and rabbits. I came into this situation at the request of a young man of Londerzeel who I only knew by the Christian name “Rik”, and who had enough of it because he had to work on Sundays and could not go to the fair. I cannot imagine why I was kept on. I am not a member of the VNV, the VLAC, or of any political organization, nor have I been a member one; nor have I ever supported the policy of Germany.

Among the captives in the Fort I knew a Jew, a certain Obler, who had command over a large group engaged on forced labour. In general he appeared very brutal, and although I was often absent, I have seen him strike the prisoners. He generally struck with the flat of his hand. He dealt out hard blows, but not so hard that the victims fell to the ground. I have never seen him strike with a lash or stick. He struck prisoners for sometimes being in possession of a carrot, a cabbage, or some pig-potatoes which they had taken to eat in order to appease their hunger. I never saw him sell pig-potatoes, carrots, or roots, nor have I ever heard from prisoners that he had done such things.

I remember that in the beginning of the year 1942, a considerable sum of money was found by a mason under the tiles above the pigsty. I heard that said, but I can give you know exact information about it. I do not know if jewels were also found there, and can give you no useful information concerning the persons who hid it there. I wish here to observe that, besides the above-mentioned Obler, another Jewish prisoner was responsible for the care of the pigs, whose name I do not know, and who was known by no other name than the ‘pig-man’. I have never seen or heard of this ‘pig-man’ ever selling pig food to the prisoners.

I was myself responsible for the pigs about a year ago, when Obler and the pig-man were away, i.e. away at another prison camp. I never sold anything to the prisoners, but I did, when I had the opportunity, give them some pig-food and some bread. It even happened that I gave the sufferers some tobacco. As I was away so often getting food for the animals, and had to look after the sheep and cows outside the fort, I can give you little information concerning the treatment of the prisoners. But though I was seldom in the courtyard of the fort, I saw that the prisoners were heavily beaten, chiefly by a certain Wijss, an SS, and also by a certain De Bodt, who was also an SS, and these superintended the work carried out by the prisoners, which was principally labouring.

I have never personally seen prisoners beaten to death, but I have heard prisoners speak of this. I also learned from prisoners that young men had been shot, but also I did not see any shootings. From the prisoners I learned that some of them had been hanged. At the place where the executions took place, I noticed that there were ten posts standing, against which the victims were stood when they were shot, and in the corner I saw a wooden creation with a cross beam at the top. I never saw ropes hanging from this beam. I only saw this wooden erection from a distance, as I could not get into the immediate vicinity of it.

I noticed that it was made out of planks, and was about 1.35 M high and had an upper surface of 2.50 M by 2 M. As I only saw I from afar off I could not see whether there were traps in it. The cross beam which was placed over the corners and which apparently served to make the ropes fast to, had a length of about 4 M, a breadth of about 30 CM, and a thickness of about 15 CM. I can only give those measures approximately, as I could see all this from a distance. The gallows with the two wooden erections were put up by a prisoner called Gaston together with four other prisoner-carpenters over whom he supervised. This Gaston was a resident of somewhere in Malines, and went with about thirty other prisoners to the prison of St Gilles a few days after the landing.

I cannot say if any victims were hanged, and cannot say with certainty how many were shot. I certainly heard the shots of the execution platoon but I do not know how many people there were each time, and I also often went to Willebroeck from whence I could not hear anything. I saw that the same day as the executions took place, the bodies were taken away from here in a grey Wehrmacht van. I do not know where the bodies went to. To my knowledge none were buried in the fort itself.

In all the time I was working at the fort I saw only one body. This was a victim that was shot by De Bodt for attempting to escape it appeared. Concerning Major Schmidt, I never saw him deal any blows. He had a big dog of the German sheepdog (Alsatian) breed. I never saw the dog bite prisoners, although he often flew barking at them. I repeat that I know in fact very little of what went on at the Fort. I always had to get my information from the cook Louis Moens or sometimes from the electrician De Schutter or other employees of the fort. I can give you no further information.

Appendix AA
Statement given by Franz Aloys Amelinckx of 6 Zavelweg, Willebroek, when questioned by the Malines Police in October 1944.
(Translated from Flemish)

I was employed at the Fort at Breendonk from the beginning of the month of August 1941 until the flight of the Germans. My work consisted chiefly of the care of pigs, cows, sheep, and rabbits. I came into this situation at the request of a young man of Londerzeel, who I only knew by the Christian name “Rik”, and who had enough of it because he had to work on Sundays and could not go to the fair. I cannot imagine why I was kept on. I am not a member of the VNV, the VLAC, or of any political organization, nor have I been a member one; nor have I ever supported the policy of Germany.

Among the captives in the Fort I knew a Jew, a certain Obler, who had command over a large group engaged on forced labor. In general he appeared very brutal, and although I was often absent, I have seen him strike the prisoners. He generally struck with the flat of his hand. He dealt out hard blows, but not so hard that the victims fell to the ground. I have never seen him strike with a lash or stick. He struck prisoners for sometimes being in possession of a carrot, a cabbage, or some pig-potatoes which they had taken to eat in order to appease their hunger. I never saw him sell pig-potatoes, carrots, or roots, nor have I ever heard from prisoners that he had done such things.

I remember that in the beginning of the year 1942, a considerable sum of money was found by a mason under the tiles above the pigsty. I heard that said, but I can give you know exact information about it. I do not know if jewels were also found there, and can give you no useful information concerning the persons who hid it there.

I wish here to observe that, besides the above-mentioned Obler, another Jewish prisoner was responsible for the care of the pigs, whose name I do not know, and who was known by no other name than the ‘pig-man’. I have never seen or heard of this ‘pig-man’ ever selling pig food to the prisoners. I was myself responsible for the pigs about a year ago, when Obler and the pig-man were away, i.e. away at another prison camp. I never sold anything to the prisoners, but I did, when I had the opportunity, give them some pig-food and some bread. It even happened that I gave the sufferers some tobacco. As I was away so often getting food for the animals, and had to look after the sheep and cows outside the fort, I can give you little information concerning the treatment of the prisoners. But though I was seldom in the courtyard of the fort, I saw that the prisoners were heavily beaten, chiefly by a certain Wijss, an SS, and also by another SS, De Bodt, and these superintended the work carried out by the prisoners, which was principally laboring.

I have never personally seen prisoners beaten to death, but I have heard prisoners speak of this. I also learned from prisoners that young men had been shot, but also I did not see any shootings. From the prisoners I learned that some of them had been hanged. At the place where the executions took place, I noticed that there were ten posts standing, against which the victims were stood when they were shot, and in the corner I saw a wooden creation with a cross beam at the top. I never saw ropes hanging from this beam. I only saw this wooden erection from a distance, as I could not get into the immediate vicinity of it. I noticed that it was made out of planks, and was about 1,35-M high and had an upper surface of 2,50-M by 2-M. As I only saw I from afar off I could not see whether there were traps in it. The cross beam which was placed over the corners and which apparently served to make the ropes fast to, had a length of about 4m, a breadth of about 30 CM, and a thickness of about 15 CM. I can only give those measures approximately, as I could see all this from a distance. The gallows with the two wooden erections were put up by a prisoner called Gaston together with four other prisoner-carpenters over whom he supervised. This GASTON was a resident of somewhere in Malines, and went with about thirty other prisoners to the prison of St Gilles a few days after the landing.

I cannot say if any victims were hanged, and cannot say with certainty how many were shot. I certainly heard the shots of the execution platoon but I do not know how many people there were each time, and I also often went to Willebroek from whence I could not hear anything. I saw that the same day as the executions took place, the bodies were taken away from here in a grey Wehrmacht van. I do not know where the bodies went to. To my knowledge none were buried in the fort itself.

In all the time I was working at the fort I saw only one body. This was a victim that was shot by De Bodt for attempting to escape it appeared.

Concerning Major Schmidt, I never saw him deal any blows. He had a big dog of the German sheepdog (Alsatian) breed. I never saw the dog bite prisoners, although he often flew barking at them. I repeat that I know in fact very little of what went on at the Fort. I always had to get my information from the cook Louis Moens or sometimes from the electrician De Schutter or other employees of the fort.

I can give you no further information.

Appendix BB
Statement given by Lodenijk Octave Moens, 22 rue Nouvelle, Willebroeck, October 1944, Questioned by the Police of Antwerp.
(Translated from Flemish)

I have been here in the service of the Fort as cook since the beginning of 1942. It was the chief of the Willebroeck Branch of ‘De Vlag’ who forced me to do so by threatening me that, in the case of refusal I should be sent to Germany to work. When I arrived at the fort it was under the command of SS Major Schmidt, his assistant was the Hauptsturmfuhrer Lamidtke, the other members of the staff in charge were Lieutenant Prauss, a native of Berlin, Untersturmfuhrer Lais easily recognizable by his boxer’s nose and his sailor’s walk (swaying walk). Other Germans were Zimmerman, Hertel, and Muller. As Flemish SS there must be added Baele, of Costacker near Ghent, Lumpaert of Antwerp, Pellemans a native of Remt, but having lived for a long time at Aantwerp, Raes of Laeken les Bruxelles, De Samel of Denteleergen near Ghent, Wijss of Antwerp, Brusseleers of Heyst op den Berg, Cuyt, of Hingene, De Bodt of Willebroeck, Van Hul of Liee, Westerlinckx of Baesbode, a former insurance agent.

Early in 1944, Major Schmidt returned to Berlin and was replaced by Major Schoenwetter. Towards May 1944, Baele left and was replaced by Van de Voorde who came from the S.D. of Antwerp. Some time after my arrival here, the German Zimmerman left and was replaced by an NCO, a very tall man, nearly two meters (6 ft 3 inches) whose Christian name was Norman, but whose surname I do not know. He was a native of Berlin.

I was only to go into the kitchen, according to what I was told, but in order to go and find things I needed like wood, coal, and vegetables, I went to different parts of the camp. From one side of the kitchen I could see the courtyard where the prisoners worked. I was forbidden to go behind the Fort, but in the lunch hours, when the Germans had gone, I went there all the same, and saw the state of the place. I wish to point out in passing that the reconstitution of the emplacement of the execution posts and the gibbet resembles the real thing very closely.

Major Schmidt left things entirely to Lieutenant Prauss. He was a heavy drinker and never punished a prisoner himself. He had a big dog and had taught him to bite peoples’ legs. It happened more than once that he set this dog on the prisoners. This happened particularly when the prisoners were called on parade. Various prisoners had wounds and moved with difficulty. It was against those people who did not take their place in the ranks quickly enough that the dog was set, and bit the prisoners’ legs. I also noticed that he often took the numbers of prisoners who sometimes rested a second and that he afterwards passed these numbers to Lieutenant Prauss, who then took the necessary action. The Major always walked about with a crop. Personally I never saw him strike a prisoner himself, but I learned from the prisoners that he did go so far as to strike.

A man called Tierens of Breendonk worked here as a contractor : he carried out work here, but at the same time he belonged to the SS and besides the execution of his work, he gave lectures to the civilian staff who worked here, and to the Flemish SS. I never had to attend his lectures. Major SCHMIDT was very attached to this Tierens and regularly went drinking with him at the Fort canteen. It was known by everyone that Tierens carried into account many deliveries of construction materials which had never been made that Schmidt took advantage of the profits, which could then be used to settle for his drinking bouts. Besides this Schmidt had continuous relations with Tierens’ wife, and it was said that he had intimate relations with her. He was also very attached to Philippens of Puurs, who I think was Burgomaster there. I do not know if this person every came to the camp because I do not know this person by sight.

Lieutenant Prauss was the true tyrant of the fort and properly speaking the one who reigned supreme over the prisoners. He was always in possession of a crop, consisting of a bull’s pizzle in which a steal wire was woven. It was chiefly with this instrument that he struck the prisoners. When he happened to be without his crop he hit with his hands or feet. He always hid behind a door or wall to spy on the prisoners so as to discover an alleged offense which served as a pretext for ill-treatment. I never saw anyone killed outright by blows but I know that some people died several days after as a result of them.

How many people died of them is difficult to say, but I think they can be counted in tens. Prauss conducted himself in a really unheard of and disgusting manner towards the prisoners. In most cases there was no reason for these blows they were delivered really as a matter of habit. It happened on more than one occasion that a person was beaten for not holding himself straight. If they passed a puddle of water the prisoner was made to throw himself into it and received further blows because his uniform was wet. I have sometimes seen that over a distance of several hundred yards the same prisoner was struck up to five times. This state of affairs lasted from my arrival at the fort and in Prauss’ case until the flight.

The prisoners were taken away in motor lorries very early in the morning about a week before the camp was evacuated. This exodus took place before my arrival at the fort that day. The party was divided into two groups. I learned from Lieutenant Van Keck, also an SS, whom I forgot to mention before, that the prisoners were taken towards Bois le Duc. At this time there were about three hundred people. Van Keck was a driver and he had also driven a prison van. Major Schoenwetter took charge of this convoy and came back again. I cannot state with how many lorries this move was effected.

SS Untersturmfuhrer Lais did not conduct himself too badly towards the prisoners who were considered as Aryans. I learned that he had also resorted to blows and kicks but to a much less extent than Prauss. On the other hand Lais was much more zealous regarding the Jews, whom he struck and kicked brutally. He came to the kitchen and told me to give the Jews less to eat than the other prisoners. Several times he made the kitchen staff, myself included, take a part of the food out of the bowls. I never saw him beat Jews to death but they were often ill as a result of his beatings. He did not hit with any special instrument but did it with whatever he came across, either a stick or his fist. He had a very heavy fist; he had, by the way, the appearance of a boxer. Each time he gave a blow with his fist the prisoner fell over. He was here about half of 1942 and in his place but a long time afterwards, came Oberlieutenant Kamschuster, whom I also forgot to mention above.

This man was in the true sense of the word a thorough beast. He was drunk from eight o’clock in the morning onwards. I never saw him otherwise. He behaved in the most odious manner towards the prisoners and in an even more horrible manner towards the Jews. I have been told by the prisoners that, when he had been at the fort three days he met a Jew in the courtyard, and without further ado and without even speaking to him, drew his revolver and shot the Jew in cold blood. I know that a so-called inquiry was held on this matter and on its conclusion the findings were published to the prisoners. The prisoners were informed that the Jew had mutinied and this brought his death upon himself as a deserved punishment. All the prisoners were unanimous in declaring that no word had been exchanged between them.

Kamschuster remained here about four months and his disgusting conduct never changed. One exact case against him at a moment when I was out of the kitchen, Kamschuster came in alone, drunk as usual. There were several cans of boiling coffee there at the time. He struck one Marcel van Hooh of Terhange. The latter fell and Kamschuster poured on him one of the cans of boiling coffee. Further he drew his revolver, or tried to, but could not as he was so drunk. Van Hoof was terribly scalded and remained under treatment for several weeks. After several weeks van Hoof was taken to Bois le Duc and I think his parents said he was dead.

Kaputsturmfuhrer Lamottke was a thorough hypocrite, an artful chap. He hit like the others, but most of the time he let Prauss do it, and he punished in his usual bestial manner. However, more than once, he committed acts of violence too. He examined the packets which were sent to the prisoners; he took out for himself whatever came under the heading of luxury foodstuffs, chocolates, sardines, etc. He kept them for himself.

Zimmerman was a real soldier, scrupulous to the extreme. He was in charge of supplies and he controlled everything concerning them. He sometimes came into the kitchen and ate a piece of bread; he refused to put any butter on it, because it was, he said, the prisoner’s ration. There is nothing to complain of about him. I only heard of two occasions on which he had given a prisoner a blow. He was the only decent person in the administration of the camp. I gave him as many rations as was necessary, and they were always regularly issued.

Mertel, a non commissioned officer, in charge of equipment, especially the motor transport. He was not often in contact with the prisoners. I never saw him strike a prisoner and I never heard anyone complain about it.

Muller had no rank, and the prisoners did not have to stand at attention for him. He insisted, however, that they did, that this was the payment for continual blows when he had the chance. He acted as paying officer, and had to review and hold in safe custody the objects belonging to the prisoners. He was a regular brute and for that matter even more cruel than Prauss. It is fortunate that he was not able to be in continual contact with the prisoners. When he passed by chance somewhere where he saw some prisoners, he always struck at them, either with his hand or with a stick, or whatever else was handy. I know of no cases in which prisoners died as a result of his blows.

After the departure of Schmidt, Schoenwetter arrived as Camp Commandant. I cannot refer to him other than as a thief and a pilferer. When he had been in office a short time, that is to say during 1943, the Foyer Leopold Charity of Brussels interested itself in the prisoners. As a result of this we were supplied supplementary rations in the form of biscuits, butter, smoked horse meat, and chocolate. This work was under the patronage of Princess de Ligne. I knew this lady, and told her how many prisoners were detained here. This served as a guide for the division of the supplementary rations.

Schoenwetter always quoted a higher strength than there really was and thus disputes arose between the charity mentioned and Schoenwetter. The Princess even came one day because 28 more people than I had mentioned had been included. The Major tried by every means to justify that there really were 28 people. No, I’m wrong, it was Schoenwetter who went to see the Princess at Brussels. This Charity had distributed at a certain time up to seventy five kilograms of butter and a quantity of smoked horse meat. Of this nothing went to the prisoners. All of it was immediately divided among the officers of the camp. Some chocolate was distributed, three bars had been provided per prisoner, I having informed this charity that there were four hundred and thirty prisoners. The charity decided to send fifteen hundred bars, to make sure that each prisoner received three bars of chocolate, for they knew some of it would be kept by the Germans. Schoenwetter gave two bars to each prisoner and kept for himself six hundred bars.

He himself struck and ill-treated the prisoners on more than one occasion. However he left most of it to Prauss. A certain Van Achter of Puurs came here to the fort to work as a gardener. The latter did many good turns to the prisoners, notably by sending off their letters outside. Once he was caught by the Major and very badly ill-treated by him. He was really ill as a result of it. Afterwards he was imprisoned for six weeks and then discharged from the camp.

The tall officer to whom reference has been made is the one whose Christian name was Norman as mentioned above. He, among others, assisted in the arrest of the Count De Monceau De Bergendael at Brussels. This Norman was a real tyrant towards the prisoners. He hit them continually. It happened on more than one occasion that he beat the same prisoner with Prauss, and I can say with certainty that Norman shared the responsibility for the death of several persons. The Count De Monceau was shot. I managed to get a roll of lavatory paper to him and he left several notes that I passed to Baron de Meester after the liberation.

Someone called Frantz came after the departure of Norman. He was a native of Strasburg. The latter is acceptable to Schoenwetter as a thief. In addition, he ill-treated the prisoners. He was not, to my knowledge, directly responsible for the death of any prisoners. I also know an Oberlieutenant Kempfer who also struck the prisoners and who very cruelly supervised their work. Oberlieutenant Steckman was also in permanent contact with the prisoners and also made himself responsible for several tortures. Kempfer and Steckman stayed only a very short time here; each about three months, I think. Lamottke was replaced by Kempfer and the latter by Steckman.

In the course of 1944 there were still the NCOs Schunzlar and Klart who were also guilty of brutalities. They left about two months before the liberation.

Let us turn to the Flemish SS. The worst were Wijss and Debodt. Wijss was there when I arrived at the fort. He behaved in the most disgusting manner towards the prisoners. He never stopped hitting the men with a bull’s pizzle, a piece of iron, or even with stones. I have seen him in the courtyard beat a man to death and then stand on the dead man’s head shouting, ‘I’ve got another one’. He was a Jew. I also know how he drowned several Jews. Several times he kicked them into the water until they lost consciousness, then he pulled them out and covered them with earth until death was caused through asphyxiation. He always boasted of having killed at least six people during the period I was here. It is impossible for me to give the names of those persons. In all those repulsive deals he was actively seconded by Debodt. The latter behaved in the same way as Wijss and helped him kill people. It can be said that he himself killed several people, either alone or in company with Wijss. These two individuals genuinely equaled Prauss in brutality.

Baele was also serving here when I arrived. He also behaved cruelly towards the prisoners by means of blows and tortures. It appears that for the last six months he felt that he should disassociate himself from Germany and that they would lose the war : from that time onwards he changed radically and tried to get on good terms with the prisoners. One day two people from the environs of Charleroi were liberated. He conducted theses people as far as the causeway, insisted that he had always been good to them and asked that these people write to him. These persons never complied. Some time afterwards, two people from the same district were also released. He also pressed these people to write to him and to try to get in touch with the first two to ask them to write to him. He tried on all sides to get people to send him letters which would make it appear that he had conducted himself well. Nobody complied.

It is certain in any case that, until the beginning of 1944 he was no better than the others and that he ill-treated the prisoners with equal violence. I do not think he was directly responsible for the death of people as Wijss and Debodt were. According to what I hear De Baele has been arrested and detained at Brussels.

Lampaert was an office employee. It was usually in his office on their arrival at the Fort that the prisoners received their first blows. This was Lampaert’s work. Nearly all prisoners who came into the Fort received blows from Lampaert. Lampaert assisted at the questionings in the interrogation rooms and the torture chamber. He also made himself an accessory to the ill-treatment which always accompanied these interrogations. He was also at one time an outdoor service and there also was responsible for serious tortures. De Bodt however told me one day that Lampaert was much too mild. I can however say that Lampaert can be called cruel.

Pellemans was an office employee and I have nothing ill to say of him. He did not ill-treat anyone. One day I came into contact with people from Waarloos whose son was imprisoned here and who was shot. These people told me that someone in the Fort had called and they had given him food for their boy and a certain amount of money to buy delicacies. This young man had been taken to the prison at Antwerp and the parents had been allowed to speak to their son. Their son had told them that he had received the food in question and also other things, notably delicacies, which had been bought with the money given. The person who did this was described by the parents. I now remember their name, Gysemans.

The description coincides fairly well with Pellemans. I have discovered nothing against him, and I never heard the prisoners complain about him. The Gysemans I spoke about is actually Michel Gyseman, Lieutenant of the Reserve, implicated in the affair of Colonel Hausman, Casman Bethuyne and others. Pellemans left here about a year before the liberation.

Raes was here about six months and was in any case as cruel as Wijss and De Bodt. He also struck the men in all ways. I can say that he collaborated with Wijss and De Bodt in causing directly the death of several persons. I cannot remember the names of the persons killed. There were here a group of postmen prisoners. Two of these were martyred. I can certify that this was the work of Wijss, Debodt, and Raes.

De Saffel was also an office employee. He was extraordinarily cruel. He did not have much chance of coming into contact with the prisoners but when he saw the opportunity, he struck, kicked, and ill-treated the men in every way. He accompanied (then) very often to the torture chamber. He must have conducted himself in a most bestial manner. From the kitchen where I was, in spite of the distance, the corridors and the shut doors, I could hear the shrieking of the tortured in the torture chamber.

In the kitchen I had an assistant one Franz Michiels of Brussels. He was arrested as a suspect at the beginning of the war between Germany and Russia. This person was never interrogated. It happened on more than one occasion that Michiels was called to fetch someone from the torture chamber and take them back to their cell. It often happened that several hours after having left the torture chamber the person died of the effects of the blows, ill-treatment, and torture.

Van de Voorle, a blond, was for a long time guard at the telephone exchange at Antwerp and guard at the gate of the Security Police Building at Antwerp. He is a native of Ghent or thereabouts. He was employed in the office and did not come into contact with the prisoners who worked outside. He was never in the torture chamber to my knowledge. I have, however, heard that he also struck the prisoners and ill-treated them in his office.

Brusseleers was also attached to the outside department of the prisoners. He was as cruel as Wijss and his chiefs. He was himself the terror of the prisoners. During the last months I can say that Wijss and De Bodt (certainly for fear of the German collapse) were a little less cruel in their work. Brusseleers on the contrary doubled his cruelty and at the end he was the worst of all; he was the real terror of the prisoners.

Cuyt was attached to the outside department and to the stores. I heard that he had also ill-treated the prisoners with blows and kicks. But he was much less harsh than the Wijss group.

Westerlinck was a real idealist national-socialist. I learned nothing about him. As usual I asked the prisoners. I will not say that he never struck but if so, this must have been rare. I must say he behaved himself decently.

Van Hul was an office employee and I have heard say of him that he also acted in a brutal way towards the prisoners. The story is that one day Van Hul bet with De Bodt that he would kill a prisoner at nine o’clock in the evening. I never discovered if this was true. I cannot say that Van Hul personally caused the death of anybody.

At the Fort were also attached L. Carleer of Londerzeel as smith and Van Praet of Bornhem as gardener. Of Carleer I can only say that he was in charge of all the general repair works. He made the instruments of torture, the pulley of the torture chamber, the irons in which the men were chained; lastly he also made the scaffold. This scaffold was put up toward April 1944, I think, as far as I know it was first used for hanging Fraiteur and his 2 companions, condemned to death for the murder of Paul Collin. As far as I know, only a few people were hanged. Carleer was as bad as the other Flemish SS. He also ill-treated the prisoners continually or relied to Prauss to torture or ill-teat the people for him. Carleer was also secretary of the VNV at Londerzeel; he was really wicked and his conduct towards the prisoners was scandalous.

Van Praet was the gardener of the Fort. He also conducted scandalously towards the prisoners. He also struck the prisoners or went and told all about it to Prauss. It happened on more than one occasion that the people, impelled by terrible hunger, ate or tried to eat a leaf of cabbage, or trimming of vegetables which remained on the path. He snatched them from their hands, struck the man and afterwards went and told it to Prauss. He acted thus to a Boxed from Brussels who was also a prisoner there; as a result of this the later was confined to his cell for 15 days and terrible ill-treatments. This was the work from Van Praet. He was a creek into the bargain; he sometimes succeeded in learning at the office that one or another prisoner was to be released. He then went and found the person and said that through his intervention he was going to be released. The people were filled with joy at such an eventuality and each would have given everything he possessed to leave here. They therefore made many promises.

On another occasion, he sought out some people and told them the dates they would be released. All this took place as he has said that although he had nothing to do with it. In most cases the people kept their promise, thus it was a farmer from Wallonie that promised a side of pork, some butter and other things if he secured him his freedom. Van Praet did actually got them because he went to fetch them on the Sunday and told me on Monday that he had such a time that he had never had in his live before.

Prisoner’s Food

The food in general was very bad until the beginning of 1944. The prisoners received first :

175 grammes of bread a day (later the ration was increased to 250 grammes)
20 grammes of jam
30 grammes of sugar
30 grammes of butter
10 grammes of cheese every two day

At midday a ‘soup’ which consisted of boiled water with some vegetables was served. The issue was 30 grammes of meat per person per day (30 grammes of meat with bones). Meat and butter were generally partly hold back. I often had arguments with the Germans when I demanded this ration. This was not the case while Zimmerman divided up the rations; I then received the exact amount. The meat, however, only amounted to a ration of 20 grammes to make sure that the soup wasn’t not to nutritive.

From the beginning of 1944, the food greatly improved. (Of course, (Note from Snafu) in the beginning of 1944 half of the entire German army was already resting inside their tombs and this was just the start of the thing). Then came the Foyer Léopold. The ration of bread was raised to 500 grammes, the potatoes to 1000 grammes and the meat to 100 grammes. However these rations were never fully issued so that it could be said that the Germans kept back much of them for themselves. However from then on the food became passable.

General Information

I consider that since the time of my arrival here at the Fort there have been about, and without overestimation, 350 peoples executed, the majority shot. The posts against which the persons to be shot were placed were changed after being used 2 or 3 times. The old posts where used as firewood.

The Foyer Léopold provided clothing as the same time as food. In general few clothes were issued. The men generally went about with their shirts in shreds. It was only in case of absolute need and if nothing else could be done that a shirt or other article of clothing were issued. Major Schoenwetter had a lorry filled with all sorts of clothes some days before the evacuation. This convoy left for Hasselt.

As instruments of torture there was also a form with sharp corners; it was not a chair but a form. It was placed in the torture chamber under the pulley. The people were brutally thrown against it and banged their knees against the sharp corners which, according to what I have been told, was very painful.

Breendonk-600x796

Those members of the SD who conducted interrogations generally acted as torturers; after which they carried off the prisoners. During the interrogation the staff of the Fort – German as well as Flemish SS – entered and left and also took their turn at hitting the victims.

On Saturdays, the prisoners went to the baths room by room. It often happened that the prisoners, in winter as well as summer had to wait their turn for quite a time in the courtyard. The people were only dressed in their shirt and trousers. I think there was a monthly medical inspection by the doctor. This only took one hour for all the prisoners who sometimes numbered 450. Everyone had to wait their turn quite naked in front of the kitchen, in the courtyard. I often saw them from my kitchen.

When executions were to take place I was not allowed to come to the Fort. I received the order the day before, not to come in the morning or to come at 10.00. I know then that executions were to take place.

There were also personnel who did not belong to the SS but to the Wehrmacht. These did all sorts or guard duties. Generally the behaved themselves decently, except that here and there an individual also behaved brutally.

I can report that one of the members or the Wehrmacht wont and extracted a sum of 5000 francs from the family of Doctor Reynaerts from Scheut to have him set free. After that he went back to say that he had not been set free but that he had been killed by the guards at the moment when he attempted to escape. None of this was true. Doctor Reynaerts remained at the Fort and left with the convoy of prisoners towards Bois le Duc. In passing I have to remark that Dr Reynaerts spent 4 weeks in a cell for having put a dressing on a Russian prisoner of war.

In the cells there were different degrees of treatments; there were some we could only remain standing; there who had their hands tied; some their food, and some hands and foot.

The people who worked for the Fort, that is to say the prisoners who were attached to the fort as carpenter, electrician or printer, or helped me in the kitchen, underwent the same ill-treatment from the SS as the others but they were better treated in the matter of food and tobacco, because myself De Schutter and the other member of the civil staff could occasionally pass them something.

7 or 8 weeks before the evacuation a woman was shot; I think she was a French Woman, the wife of an English officer. This woman was only held prisoner for about 3 months, she was later taken away elsewhere for 3 weeks. One morning at 0400, she came back and was immediately shot. This is the only shotting of a woman I have heard speak of. The day she was shot was fête day for the Germans and the Flemish SS all sorts of excesses were committed, especially drinking bouts.

According to my informations persons who were shot were condemned to death by a council of war, or their execution was envisaged as a reprisal. Their judgment was generally read before them, generally in German and in Flemish. This last being read by De Saffel.

I cannot believe that people are buried in the Fort. The dead were put together, and when a certain figure was reached they were taken to an unknown destination. The corpses were put in coffins, when they left here, and transported usually in a Wehrmacht lorry. It has happened that they waited until that more than 20 corpses (had collected). The first lay there for 15 days.

Concerned the use of so called Gas Chamber, it served as a mortuary. I have never heard say that there was really a chamber for gas tortures.

The last days before the liberation was a real panic among the Flemish SS in particular. The Flemish SS had to leave their wives. They quarreled with one another. Visibly they suspected me of having had contacts with the prisoners and I had to disappear for several days. I learned that everyone including the SS personnel left the Fort on Saturday, September 2, about 1500. The army remained until Sunday afternoon. From Sunday afternoon to Monday morning at 1000, the population pillaged the Fort; taking all sorts of objects such as kitchen utensils, tables, chairs etc.

Appendix CC
Statement given by Lodewijk Octave Moens of 22 rue Nouvelle, Willebroek, on November 17 1944 when re-questioned by the Police in Antwerp
(Translated from Flemish)

While I was a cook at the Fort of Breendonk I knew 3 sergeants there who were responsible for supervising the prisoners’ rations. These were Zimmerman, Norman and Franz.

The ration was fixed with in accordance with the ration regulations; but a change took place about 5 months before the Libération when the Foyer Léopold interested itself with the supply of food; then the prisoners got 100 grammes of meat and 500 grammes of bread a day, an extra rations of butter and smoked horseflesh were also provided. In the kitchen there was a board on which the number of prisoners was written; I drew the necessary food stuffs in accordance with the strength shown thereon.

As long as Zimmerman issued the rations I never had any trouble; the rations were laid down, he never witheld the lightest thing. With Norman, things did not go so well; he tried now and then to retain something for himself; but as the rations were already insufficient in quantity, only a little could be witheld. Franz witheld a great deal, especially butter and meat. I very often had trouble with him; he affirmed that I had to issue what I got from him and that I could exercise no control over him. One day a great argument took place because I got barely 8 kilos of butter where as according to mu calculation I should have received at least 12 kilos. I went and complained to Major Schoenwetter but without success. Later I understood the Major’s attitude when I discovered that he himself was concerned with the misappropriation.

I never had any idea how things were going to work out. This issue took place in the following manner. In the afternoon I received potatoes and vegetables which I had to prepare for the following day; I received meat, jam, butter and cheese in the morning for consumption in the same day according to the strength of the prisoners shown on the board. Prisoners got nothing to eat the day they entered the Fort, and any food they had with them was taken away. The incoming prisoners obtained their first meal at midday after their arrival. Even those who were brought in in the morning got nothing to eat at midday; the Major issued strict orders about this; they had to wait until midday the next day. If it happened that only a couple were brought in I did manage to see that they got a soup, but I had to do this by stealth; all other issues such as bread butter and cheese or other provisions were out of the question in view of the shortness of the rations.

The vegetables issued to make soup were always insufficient; what was said to be a week’s of vegetables were issued at one time; they were then divided so as to go round. There was thus no specified weight or quantity given; a heap was divided over so many days; when Norman was in control the following incident took place : Wursels were delivered and he told me that there were 1500 kilos and they were to be divided into so many days. I saw from the heap that there were hardly 1000 kilos and said as much; he maintained there were 1500 kilos; I weighed then and found there were only 945 kilos. Norman then affirmed that 500 kilos were still to be delivered, but nothing came of it. So I had to get along with 945 kilos as if they had been 1500 kilos. I suppose that Norman had 1000 kilos of Wursels delivered but had taken 1500 kilos into account and had misappropriated the difference.

The greatest difficulties concerning the food began when Franz took over; he was in charge when the Foyer Léopold started to provide additional food. I never obtained the weight of rations laid down; instead of the 100 grammes of meat prescribed (with bones), I estimate that 50 grammes were issued. I could not complain because the Major always put me in the wrong, from which I decided that Franz acted as he did with the knowledge of the Major, and the the later had his share of the profits.

It was happened that Franz, with Van Neck as driver went to get some food stuffs at Antwerp; namely cheese, jam, butter and sugar barley. On the way back, at Boom, they went into a café to see some of their lady friends: to pay the bill, they sold a part of the rations intended to the prisoners. I heard from this from De Saffel who was in the office and could not take part in the deal and was therefore in a bad temper with Franz and Van Neck. De Saffel happened to be in the café when Franz and Van neck had their party. De Saffel once rather took me into the confidence and he told me about this, adding that all sorts of goods had been sold to pay the bill. Some days later I noticed that De Saffel avoided me, and made no further reference to his confidential disclosures about Franz; I concluded from this that De Saffel had also got a share of the booty in order to keep him quiet.

The extra rations of butter and smoked meat were never issued to the prisoners; these were divided by the staff of the Fort; that is to say the SS staff. The butter was divided between Schoenwetter and Franz, the meat was divided all round. It can be said that everybody to a greater or less extent participated in what was misappropriated out of the prisoners’ rations.

Appendix DD
List of Some of the Head Men of the Rooms in Breendonk

1 Oblatt or Obler, 14 rue Notre Seigneur, Bruxelles (in the Camp since 1942) Sources : Frankignoulle (app H), P. J. De Schutter (app Z); P. A. Amelinckx (app AA) A jewis prisoner who was put in charge of all the Jew prisoners. His treatment of the prisoners equaled in cruelty that of the German SS guards and the Flemish SS guards. He used to extract money from the prisoners for allotting them indoor work and used to steal articles from any parcels the prisoners received. On his release in 1942, he is said to have joined the Gestapo in Bruxelles
2 Devos Valère, Ghent Source : C. Lemaitre (app D) and
3 Hermans René, 72 rue Peter Benoît, Hasselt – They both used to ill-treat the prisoners in a scandalous fashion
4 Van Praet, Borhnem Sources : Mme Verdick (app W); P. J. De Schutter (app Z); L. O. Moens (app BB) – Was made responsible for all prisoners. He used to bully prisoners and his conduct was as bad as the guards. After a time he was released and was engaged as Camp gardener.

Appendix AA
Satement Made by Madame Dalemans to the Antwerp Police on November 14 1944
(Translated from Flemish)

During November 1942, De Bodt mover to Pepperstraat at Willebroek and the removal was carried out by 3 prisoners. It was done in the morning. Round about midday, one of the prisoner escaped by jumping over a hedge. At this time, De Bodt and a German were acting as guards. They could not find the escapee for whom they searched for a good half hour. The licensee of the Camerinus Cafe in the Persoonstaat then rang up the Port and some 10 Germans arrived with a bloodhound. The run-away was soon found again. He was then beaten in a dreadful way that he collapsed on a dung heap. There was one Germans present who did not do anything. De Bodt and the other Germans who had been with him since the morning were responsible for the ill-treatment. After having beaten up the prisoner De Bodt toke one German’s bayonet and pricked the prisoner with it in the belly; another German did the same in the chest. De Bodt then also fired on the prisoner. SS man Franz van Heck had arrived in the meanwhile and he also fired on the prisoner. How many shot were fired I can not say.

The man in question died as a result of bayonet injuries and the shots. Later a lorry arrived and the corpse was loaded into it.

The prisoner was strongly built and appeared to me to be about 23 years of age, had black curly hairs and was of medium height, about 1.68 M should I say and wore Khaki Army uniform. I saw that his hair had been shaved but some of it had started to grow again and I could make out some black curls.

There was no reason whatsoever for killing this person; they brutally murdered him after he had been taken prisoner. Whilst they were inflicting him with bayonet wounds I saw him trying to ward them off and it seemed to me that he implored them not to ill-treat him any further; he pressed one hand against his side the other he raised above in token of submission.

Appendix FF
Extracts from a Statement made by a Member of the Security Police to the Antwerp Police, October 1944. Notes : 1 : The member of the Security Police is Jan Lodewijk Schuermans, born in Lier, Belgium, in 1923. 2 : The original statement which is into the Flemish language is 61 pages long. 3 : The Security Police works in conjunction with the Gestapo. 4 : Schuermans states that he was really working for the Underground Movement and passing them information. He went into hiding from the Germans in August 1944.

(1) [… in July 1942 I entered the service of the Security Police in Antwerp as interpretor …] (2) [… my salary was 800 Bfrs / month plus allowences for food and clothing …] [… when I married my salary was increased to 3000 Bfrs / month …] (3) [… I was taken on by Lienke, SS Oberstrumfuhrer and Police Inspector Department 1 – Section LA-1 of the Brussels Office of the Security Police and Security Service …] (4) [… I also had the job of tracking down people who appeared into anonymous letters, that is to say I had to go and identify these people from the directories …]

(5) (Schuermans was present when LAUDE, the Rector of the Colonial University, Antwerp, was arrested. He was in the next room when Laude was interrogated). He says ‘At the time of the interrogation I heard Laude screaming from the blows he received..’ (Appendix A serial 45 and Appendix R) (6) In his description of the organization and personnel of the Security Police and Security service in ANTWERP he describes : ‘Van de Voorde, Gaston. Speaks with a Ghent dialect and lived at 1 Princes-Clemant Inalaan, Ghent – 1,70-M high – slim – small hands – brown wavy hair – clear blue eyes – small features – broad forehead – clean shaven. Van de Voorde formerly served with the Waffen SS, but was discharged on medical reasons and then joined the Security Police. He went to Breendonk in the month of June 1944 to replace Lampaert’.

(7) Schmidt (Mrs) Typist. Wife Sturmbannfuhrer Schmidt, Head of Breendonk Camp. Personal description : 1,71-M – tall – brunette – dark gray eyes – narrow face – broad mouth, robust build without corpulence – 42/43 years old. (8) Lais, Ernst, SS Untersturmfuhrer – Criminal Secretary. A native of Baden Baden. 43/44 years old – 1,70-M – tall – short gray hair – rather square head – dark gray eyes – flat nose with protruding bulbous end – very bandy-legged. Lais is a member of the Criminal Police. He is a brutal beast. Those who fell into his hands did not get off lightly. He served at Breendonm in 1941. (9) Lampaert, Adolf. This man lives at 4 Baron Joostenstraat, Antwerp. Aged 25/28 years, height 1,71-M – strongly built – coarse face – dark grey eyes – bushy eyebrows – fleshy nose. Lampaert served for three years at Breendonk and satisfied his sadism on the prisoners there. He is an utter brute. Incidentally his bestiality can be read in his face. (10) Van Aken. It was probably this person who denounced the case of Mr. Laude (See Appendix A, serial 45) to the GFP. Laude had lent Van Aken financial support and also provided him with an identity card as he had to disappear. After this Van Aken returned to Laude for a new identity card. The photo from the old identity card was put by Laude in a register. Some days afterwards when the GPP came to Laude they went and opened the register where the photograph was and stated that they were convinced that the photograph was to be used for a false identity card. A member of the GFP is said to have remarked ‘The case cost us fifty thousand francs, but it’s a good case …’

(11) (The following paragraph shows the methods employed by the Germans).
Various Methods Employed by the Security Police

[… People who were arrested for a trifle were scarcely ever ill-treated, the most they go was their ears boxed. Those people also had permission whilst in prison to write letters and receive parcels and visits. Several prisoners were in one cell …] [… When the reason for arrest was serious they were handed in a similar manner if they confessed. If this was not the case they were shut up alone and were forbidden to write letters, to receive parcels, or visits. Custody on security grounds (Sicherheitschaft) was demanded by the Security Police for from one to three months …]

[ … After a certain time the person in question was again interrogated. By reason of this severe seclusion the nervous system of the prisoner was strained to the utmost. Interrogation then was begun in a quiet way. If this did not produce results, an attempt was made to make the prisoner amenable by boxing him on the ears and menacing him with truncheons and sticks or by telling him that he would be taken away to Breendonk. If this again did not produce any results the notorious method of severe interrogation (Verschaerfte Vernehmung) was adopted. The prisoner was then placed on a table and was continuously beaten by one or two men with long rubber truncheons or for preference with bamboo sticks. It often happened that the prisoner collapsed than his torturers stopped hitting him. The victim was then revived with blows and kicks. Sometimes it was found necessary to give him an injection in order to prevent heart failure. This ill-treatment usually lasted for two hours. The prisoner, completely exhausted both mentally and physically, began to speak. Only those of exceptional will-power and stamina held out and did not say anything. They were then taken into a cramped, damp, dark cell, where it was impossible to stretch fully. The prisoner in a strong sweat by reason of torture was now exposed to damp and cold and became feverish so that his remaining powers of resistance melted away. The prisoners received only little food and that was strongly salted in order to increase their thirst. On the following day the interrogations were resumed. The prisoner was struck in the same place, on the blood suffused parts of the body and the half closed wounds. These parts were even rubbed with salt water or strong tincture of iodine. It has happened on occasions that the victims died under this treatment …]

[… Yet another instrument of torture was used, one invented by Willy von Horen and such employed by Verhulksdonk. This instrument consisted of the handle of a file with a number of nails : all this was connected by flex with a plug which could be used with any circuit. The tortured man was pricked with this instrument and received a shock of 110 volts through his body. On the spot where he was pricked he felt a very strong burn consisting in a serious of wounds which in a short time swelled and caused inflammation. If none of these measures produced results the prisoner was taken to Breendonk. Veit tortured his prisoners in person with a metal nut-cracker in which he crushed the fingers of the prisoners …]

[… The prisoners who had been tortured but were not taken to Breendonk because they had talked were not taken to prison immediately. They were kept for a number of days at the Security Police HQ so that the marks of the brutalities inflicted on them should disappear. It was feared that the prison HQ when examining the prisoners might see the traces of violence and might make a report on them to the military commander …]

Custody on Security Grounds (Schutzhaft)

[… This was awarded on the same grounds as custody on security grounds, but for a more recalcitrant persons. Schutzhaft was served in a concentration camp. As a rule the prisoners were not interrogated immediately but were first imprisoned for 3 or 4 weeks before cross-examination. It sometimes happened that in one case 20 or 30 arrests were made, usually 50% of those persons were innocent. After 3 or 4 weeks had elapsed the interrogations began : 2 to 4 persons a day. Those who thus were interrogated last and often were certainly innocent had served some 2 or 3 months for no reason whatsoever. They were released without ceremony and without any excuses being made …]

[… The military court at Antwerp dealt only with small cases. If a case comprised 20 or 30 or more persons these were sent to Germany before the Peoples Court (Volksgericht). A very long time elapsed before those cases came up in court, usually a year or more after conclusion of the evidence …] [… The Germans emptied the prisons regularly during the last months of the occupation and sent the prisoners to concentration camps in Germany. The reason they gave for this was that the prisoners were here insufficiently protected against bombing. In actual fact they had erected munitions factories in their concentration camps and were in need of manpower …] [… I should add here that Verhulsdonk used a bull’s pizzle to torture his prisoners. The blows inflicted with this bull’s pizzle were very painful …]

(12) Breendonk

[… The camp commandment of Breendonk to begin with was SS Sturmbanfuhrer Schmidt who in November 1943 was replaced by SS Sturmbanfuhrer Schoenwetter. Schmidt was a bestial fellow who was capable of all kinds of brutalities. The deputy commandant was SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Steckman. Then there was SS Untersturmfuhrer Brauss (this should read Prauss) : height 1.68 meters, heavy thick build, aged 45 – 48, graying hair, fleshy nose, pale colorless lips, small dark grey eyes, coarse face, hoarse voice, stutters slightly, Prauss is what one would call ‘the Devil Incarnate’. He was known as The Terror of Breendonk, he was never seen without his whip with which he hit the prisoners mercilessly. It was Prauss who devised all the torture instruments at Breendonk which he had made by the prisoners …]

His foremost collaborators in torturing the prisoners were :

De Bodt : ex lock-keeper at Willebroek, domiciled there, 1.78 to 1.80 meters tall, 42 – 45 years old, bright blue eyes, protruding eyes, clean shaven, round face, robust build, dark brown hair, round band head. De Bodt was of the same caliber as Prauss and is also responsible for many people being tortured. Lampaert : Adolf, already described above. The same kind of brute as De Bodt and Prauss. De Saffel : Hax, he came from near Ghent. He lived in the fort of Breendonk. He worked in the office.

There were also a great number of guards of the Brussels office among whom were also Roumanians and Bulgarians. All sports of political prisoners were imprisoned at Breendonk : Jews, communists, Members of Resistance Organizations, etc. Their hair was always cut off and they received a khaki uniform worn to the thread. The treatment of the prisoners varied considerably. It can be said that some were treated badly and others extremely badly.

The people who were interned at Breendonk and who had already been interrogated and had to await the pronouncement of their sentence had to carry out forced labor from morning till evening under the whip of the sadistic guards and with insufficient food.

There was another category of prisoners at Breendonk, those who were under treatment to make them speak. These people were tortured continuously and in all possible manners. They were kept in cells where they could scarcely lie down and were made to sleep on the camp ground with bedding in cells which were completely open at the top and in which the draught was terrible. Prauss had also devised a sort of gallows whereby the prisoners were hauled up by their wrists which were tied behind their back. The victims were even undressed and mercilessly beaten with bludgeons, whips, or sticks. When a tortured man lost consciousness he was given a strong smelling liquid to smell, his bleeding wounds were also rubbed with salt water.

After being tortured the victim usually received a stimulating injection. In Breendonk people were also executed. The condemned were shot by soldiers of the Wehrmacht, while the barbarous SS administered the ‘coup de grace’.
Prauss was concerned with the hanging of people condemned to death.

After a secret Communistic printing press was discovered the Security Police brought the press to Breendonk where then a false Roodevann (Red flag) was printed and distributed into letterboxes of individuals.

APPENDIX GG
NAMES OF GERMANS AND COLLABORATORS
REFFERED TO IN THE REPORT ON APPENDICES
NOT INCLUDED IN :

(a) Paragraph 11 and Appendix V (List of Permanent Camp Staff in Breendonk)
(b) Paragraph 12 and Appendix X (List of Civilians Employed in Breendonk)
(c) Paragraph 35 and Appendix DD (List of some of the Head Men of the Rooms in Breendonk)

Serial/Name (and address if known)
Source of information, Remarks

1. Dr Recortes
– a. Mme Paquet, Appendix A Serial 21
– b. Denounced Mme Paquet to the Germans

2. De Zitter
– a. A. Denis, Appendix C
– b. Known as Captain Willy

3. Annie or Anita (Surname unknown)
– a. A. Denis – Appendix C
– b. The Spanish mistress of De Zitter (Serial 2 above)

4. Govaerts, Camillo
– a. Major Van Roosebroeck, Appendix L
– b. A Belgian aged about 20 in 1943. Tortured prisoners in Merkplas

5. Van de Plas, Guy
– a. Mme Aaulotte, Appendix O
– b. Denounced Mme Aulotte to the Germans

6. Fraulein Pohr
– a. Mme Aulotte, Appendix O
– b. A member of the Gestapo. Arrested Mme Aulotte

7. Pieters
– a. Mme Aulotte, Appendix O
– b. A German member of the Gestapo. Interrogated and tortured Mme Aulotte in the Gestapo HQ, Brussels

8. Delarue
– a. J. B. Charrin, Appendix Q
– b. Denounced Charrin to the Germans

9. Kleinpoull
– a. J. H. Charrin, Appendix Q
– b. A German member of the Gestapo. Interrogated and tortured Charrin in the Gestapo HQ in Brissels

10. Bross
– a. H. Laude, Appendix R
– b. Captain-Inspector in the Geheime Feldpolizei at Antwerp. Arrested Mr Laude and also interrogated and tortured him. Stole Laude’s private belongings and also property of the Colonial University, Antwerp. (See Appendix A serial 45 and Appendix E)

11. Barman
– a. H. Laude, Appendix R
– b. Lieutenant in the Geheime Feldpolizei at Antwerp. Assisted in the arrest of Mr Laude

12. Schmidt Ilse
– a. A. Singer, Appendix G, Mme Verdickt, Appendix W, Member of the Security Police, Appendix FF
– b. Wife of the Commandant Major Schmidt. She was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA. Her maiden name was Birckholz. She was about 5 ft 6 inches in height and thirty-two to thirty-three years of age. She was brunette with dark grey eyes. She had a narrow face and broad sensual mouth. She was well built. She worked as a typist in the Security Police HQ in Antwerp

13. Philippens
– a. L. O. Moens, Appendix BB
– b. Burgomaster of Puurs. A great friend of Major Schmidt, Commandant of Breendonk Concentration Camp

14. Van Horen, Willy
– a. Member of the Security Police, Appendix FF
– b. A member of the Antwerp Security Police. Inventor of the electric brush, an instrument of torture (See paragraph 43 of the report)

15. Veit
– a. Member of the Security Police, Appendix FF
– b. A member of the Antwerp Security Police. Tortured people

16. Verhulsdonk
– a. Member of the Security Police, Appendix FF
– b. A member of the Antwerp Security Police. Tortured people

17. Lienne
– a. Member of the Security Police, Appendix FF
– b. Police Inspector, Security Police at Antwerp

18. Van Aken
– a. Member of the Security Police, Appendix FF
– b. Probably denounced Mr Laude (Appendix A Serial 45 and Appendix R) to the Germans

End of this Archives
Addendum (Doc Snafu)

After the Malines (Belgium) War Crimes Trail, the following were sentenced to dead and executed on April 12 1947 :

– Fernand Wijss
– Marcel De Saffel
– Adolphus Lampaert
– Jan Pellemans
– Felix Brusselaers
– Eugène Raes
– Petrus Van Praet
– Karel Carleer
– Walter Obler
– Sally Lewin
– Guillaume Hermans
– Georges Vermeulen

sentenced to dead but not executed :

– Van Neck Frans
– Vandevoorde Gaston

sentenced to dead but not executed (already dead in 1947) :

– De Bodt Rijkaard
– Devos Valéry

For historical purposes, EUCMH is searching for the following Wartime items (can be sent anonymously) but would be better with the story fitting to the item(s) – (Male and Female – children and adult) – Prisoner’s Uniform

For all purposes :
European Center of Military History
Gunter ‘Doc Snafu’ Gillot
rue des Thiers 8
Francorchamps 4970
Belgium
Email : gunter [at] eucmh.be





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(NB : Published for Good – March 2019)

 

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