University of Mons (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 3834-3841
ISBN: 978-84-09-27666-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2021.0790
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
During World War II, Breendonk Fort was used as a concentration camp by the Nazis in Belgium. At the end of the conflict, it was erected as a national memorial with the aim of "taking all necessary measures to ensure that the memory of Breendonk Fort, as well as the events that took place there, remain alive in the spirit of the Nation, stimulate its civic spirit and promote the patriotic education of young people" (1947 law). It thus became a place of remembrance that many secondary school students visit every year. This type of historical place is indeed conducive to the duty to remember linked to the historical events that took place there (Meyran, 2007, Cornelißen, 2016). Places like this, therefore, contribute to a major ethical issue in education through the development of a culture of remembrance. The scenography implemented to transform a historic site into a museum also makes it possible to intensify the emotions felt by visitors, especially when the public is made up of young visitors (Chevalier & Lefort, 2016). The experience of such visits so includes an educational added value that would effectively reinforce the transmission of historical knowledge (Wadbled, 2018).

The objective of our research was to evaluate the evolution of the intensity of emotions felt by visitors to Breendonk Fort. Their opinions on the importance of the duty to remember were also investigated. We thus sought to understand how much the emotional experience could contribute to the development of ethical values related to the duty to remember. Little research has dealt with this subject. We, therefore, opted for an exploratory methodology based on a questionnaire survey to which 101 visitors responded (67.33% women and 32.67% men). Our results show that the intensity of all the emotions evaluated undergoes an important evolution following the visit. Indeed, many respondents declared having experienced "very strongly" feelings of disgust, anger, and fear when confronted with the abuse suffered by the prisoners (from 43.57% to 50.5% with a strong evolution), but also feelings of compassion and sadness for the victims (from 38.62% to 48.56%). Feelings towards those responsible for the acts committed (shame or contempt towards the leaders of the fort or convinced collaborators) evolve to a lesser extent (between 14.85% and 19.81%). These trends are little influenced by the personal characteristics of the respondents, except for the time elapsed since their last visit or their age.

At the end of the visit, the importance of the duty to remember is shared by 99.01% of the respondents, 98.02% consider that it is necessary to make future generations aware of the dangers of extremism by this means and 93.07% consider that the Breendonk Fort has an important role in this perspective. These results corroborate those obtained by Krakover (2005) and Nawijn and Fricke (2015). They show that these historical sites, through their authentic character and the pedagogical work carried out there, can be major actors working effectively towards an ethical education linked to the duty to remember.
Duty to Remember, World War II, Places of Remembrance, National Memorial of the Breendonk Fort, Ethical Education.