Personal Histories from a World War II Concentration Camp


Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2015. Available in hardcover and ebook.

Illustrated in color and black-and-white with over 225 photographs, drawings, and maps, including many photos taken exclusively for the book by award-winning Belgian photographer Leon Nolis. 

Schedule a School Visit with James M Deem


My PowerPoint presentation and talk about Fort Breendonk is intended for middle school and high school students as well as adults who are studying or interested in the Holocaust and World War II.

During my talk, I explain the prewar history of the Belgian camp and its development into what the SS called a "reception" camp (though it was essentially a concentration camp).

I introduce the audience to some of the prisoners, using photographs obtained from various archives in Belgium. This personal close-up look allows students to better understand the horrors of the Holocaust as well as the dangers of living in an occupied country. About a third of Breendonk's prisoners (Jews, political prisoners, resistance fighters, and common criminals) were eventually sent to other concentration camps. I describe how the camp was evacuated and what happened to the prisoners.

I also talk about my own multi-faceted connection to the Holocaust and why I began to write books related to this topic.