Kazerne Dossin - Mechelen deportation centre
UPDATE: I've meanwhile been to visit this place and will write up a full report, illustrated with a photo gallery, as soon as I find the time ... please bear with me.
It was here in the city of Mechelen that during Germany
occupation of Belgium
established an "SS
-Sammellager" ('collection camp') for the deportation of (primarily) Belgian Jews to the death camp
in eastern Poland
during the worst part of the Holocaust from July 1942 to 1944. Out of a total of ca. 25,000, only about 1200 are believed to have survived (most arrivals were murdered in the gas chambers immediately, without even being registered).
Together with Breendonk
, this is Belgium
's most important Holocaust
memorial centre. The one in Mechelen was formerly called the "Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance", but has recently seen a major upgrade and is now known simply as Kazerne Dossin ("kazerne" meaning 'army barracks' – which is what it used to be). The new permanent exhibition, housed in a brand new building next to the old barracks, opened in late 2012. It also hosts temporary exhibitions. The old memorial site has been substantially refurbished as well.
On display in the old museum were mainly photos and documents. Anne Frank
naturally got some coverage and one real artefact shown was a Zyklon-B
gas canister. Text labels were in Flemish (Dutch), French and English. The new exhibition is most likely much more modern in its design and is supposed to be more comprehensive in its coverage too, also touching on other genocides
and human rights issues beyond the Holocaust – at the time of writing, in October 2013, for instance, there was a temporary exhibition entitled "Enduring Srebrenica
Opening times: daily except Wednesdays from 10 .am. to 6 p.m.
Admission: 10 EUR, for a combination ticket allowing access to both the permanent and temporary exhibitions – you can visit the memorial in the old barracks free of charge.
in the north of the centre of Mechelen, which itself lies about half-way between Brussels and Antwerp, in the Flemish part of Belgium
. Address: Goswin de Stassartstraat 153, B-2800 Mechelen – the new museum is housed in a purpose-built, monolithic-looking new edifice opposite the old site.