Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Prisoners of Breendonk

The Prisoners of Breendonk: Personal Histories from a World War II Concentration Camp by James Deem is an exceptional look at World War II from a concentration camp in Belgium. 

Deem's book has taken the experiences of a variety of Breendonk prisoners and made them personal for the reader by giving a glimpse at their lives and who they were as people.  It is one thing to read about a group of people but as bits and pieces are revealed about each prisoner, it is hard to imagine the torture they went through.

Breendonk was not labeled a concentration camp, but instead was termed a reception camp where prisoners would be held until their release.  However, the torture endured at Breendonk was no less than at any concentration/death camp, and roughly half of the prisoners didn't survive.

Deem's book is well researched and provides many photographs and sketches along with some maps that give a better idea of what life was like in Breendonk.

I have read other non-fiction accounts of life in the concentration camps during World War II, and this is a fantastic addition to this growing collection.  

This is geared toward middle school - high school readers and will help satisfy their curiosity about World War II.  Although it doesn't go into Belgian history, it does give a glimpse at this country during the war as well. 

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