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Deem, James M.: The Prisoners of Breendonk: Personal Histories from a World War II Concentration Camp.

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Deem, James M. The Prisoners of Breendonk: Personal Histories from a World War II Concentration Camp. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. 352p. $18.99. 978-0-544-09664-6. Photos. Illus.

In Holocaust literature and film, little is mentioned of Breendonk, a fortress originally built to protect the Belgian city of Antwerp from German invasion in WWI and which later became an unofficial Nazi concentration camp where countless horrors took place. Author Deem provides a thorough history of Breendonk, offering prisoner accounts, artwork, official records, maps, and both archival and current day photographs. Though it was not an extermination camp, conditions at Breendonk were brutal: prisoners experienced overcrowding, illness, and regular, sometimes fatal, abuse at the hands of the Nazis. Of the 3,590 registered prisoners who passed through Breendonk, nearly half died, most after being transported to other camps.

Deems unflinching look at the prisoner experience at Breendonk, including some descriptions of torture and executions, may be difficult to stomach at times but gives voice to Breendonk's victims, which included Jews, communists, resistors, and petty criminals. Readers will appreciate the author's attention to detail, especially information pertaining to the fate of certain prisoners and guards after liberation. This title is a solid nonfiction addition to any high school Holocaust collection.--Cathy Fiebelkorn.

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Author:Fiebelkorn, Cathy
Publication:Voice of Youth Advocates
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Aug 1, 2015
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