Fort de Breendonk, German Atrocities in Belgium (WW-2)

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 Jumet
(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.

SS-Prauss-aka-Brauss-aka-Mathurin
SS Prauss aka Brauss, aka Mathurin

Flemish-SS-Marcel-De-Saffel
Flemish SS Marcel De Saffel

Flemish-SS-Rijkaard-De-Bodt-600x1299
Flemish SS Rijkaard De Bodt

Flemish-SS-Fernand-Weiss-met-mama
Flemish SS Fernand Wijss (met mama …)

(Note from Gunter) I typed this text and published it in 2012. While doing this terrible work because of the very bad quality of the original archive I did found in the US, I got in contact with the peoples from the Association in Fort Breendonk and ofered them to share this archive. They were really happy about it and proposed me a CD with other documents and especially photos. Today – May 2015 – they got the archive I offered them and never got something from them. – so … Dank u

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 (contumace) : 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.

breendonk-102-600x401

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.

breendonk-103-600x435

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.

reenacting-torture-pose-in-the-prison-001-600x808

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.

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