Saturday, December 17, 2011

National Geographic Channel: Sunday, Dec. 18th at 9 pm: Hitler's G.I. Death Camp

Photo: An entrance to one of the tunnels 

Labor Tunnel

Photo by: Hoggard Films and Allison Sargent
The entrance to one of the work tunnels at Berga still remains. It was here where American POWs were forced to work during their imprisonment, blasting the rocky tunnel walls with dynamite and removing the rubble with their bare hands, without food or water, for hours on end.


Premieres this Sunday, December 18th at 9pm ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel.

One common explanation for the world's failure to prevent the Holocaust is that the information about the Nazi extermination program seemed too incredible to believe. More than 60 years later, Americans may now also find it difficult to believe that their fellow citizens were among the 12 million people murdered by the Nazis, abandoned to this fate by their own government.

The outbreak of war in Europe put tens of thousands of American civilians, especially Jews, in deadly peril, but the State Department failed to help them. As a consequence of this callous policy many suffered - and some died.
Later, when the United States joined the war against Hitler, many brave young Americans were captured and imprisoned. Jewish soldiers were at a special risk - they were sent into battle with a telltale "H" (for "Hebrew") on their dog tags, which helped the Nazis single them out for mistreatment. One group of Jewish GIs was sent to the brutal Berga concentration camp, which had the highest fatality rate of any camp where American POWs were held. Other POWs were sent to other notorious concentration camps, like Buchenwald and Mauthausen, where they became victims of the machinery of the "Final Solution."
Why is it that none of the hundreds of books about the Holocaust has examined the fate of Americans who fell into Nazi hands? Perhaps it is because the number of American victims was small compared to the total that perished. Perhaps it is due to the perception of the Holocaust as a European phenomenon; most people assumed that Americans could not have become victims. But the main reason this story has gone untold for a half century is that much of the evidence has been concealed by our own government.
The U.S. government had good reasons to cover up the story. The revelation that Americans were mistreated and their government knew and failed to do anything about it would certainly raise uncomfortable questions about this country's failure to offer safe haven to the Nazis' main target: European Jews.
To learn more, watch the new National Geographic documentary, or the AICE-sponsored documentary,Berga: Soldiers Of Another WarAnd read Mitchell Bard's book, Forgotten Victims: The Abandonment of Americans in Hitler's Camps.   

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Mitchell Bard is the Executive Director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and the  Jewish Virtual Library, the world's most comprehensive online encyclopedia of Jewish history and culture.

Dr. Bard is available for media interviews and lectures on these and other topics. Please contact Zach Scheinerman if you are interested in interviewing Dr. Bard or having him speak at an upcoming event. 

Bee's Notes:

Facts: Hitler's GI Death Camp