Berga. Where American POWs Were Treated Exactly Like Jews In World War II.

by Daniel Russ on January 11, 2014

 

 

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.Berga was a concentration camp where Nazis held Allied POWs. In the camp of 5,000, Tony Acevedo, a Hispanic medic who was captured with thousands of others at the Battle of the Bulge kept copious diaries about the camp and how they were treated. The Germans saw his swarthy complection and thought he was Jewish, so he was incarcerated and mistreated with everyone else. In these dairies we find the story of how Nazis treated American Jews. The American POWs were also loaded onto train cars 60 to 80 at a time. They were slowly starved and made to make weapons. In a National Geographic special one POW mentions that P-47s were strafing a train filled with US POWs.

About 350 Jews were segregated from the 23,000 prisoners taken at the Ardennes and transported to a satellite camp of Buchenwald. There a particularly cruel commandant named Edwin Metz tortured and worked Americans to death with impunity. When the war ended Metz disposed of his Nazi clothes, donned civilian attire and tried to bike out of theater. He was captured and served only 5 years for his crimes.

In Berga POWs were forced to mine coal with no protection from the dust. It killed many of them. As did dysentery and only consuming 400 calories a day. They took the coal and loaded it into train cars and took it to a hydrogenation plant where fuel for Me-262s and other advanced jet engines. They also performed other duties such as dairy farming and railroad work. 

The Geneva Convention dictates that prisoners are not made to work but can be given work if they so wish. Also it forbids forcing officers to work, it forbids having to make weapons and it details limited work hours. Of course, here the Nazis violated every convention, including typical human behavior. 70 GIs were worked to death. 

 

Six months after Ardennes, US tankers discovered the camp and liberated it.

 

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US POWs Emaciated And Dying At Berga

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sources: pbs, BBC Documentary and jewishvirtuallibrary.org.

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Ed Klas April 27, 2017 at 1:53 pm

The Nazi’s had a quota of 350 POWs to take to Berga but as there were only 80 Jewish, they filled the rest of their quota with non Jewish prisoners one of whom was my father. Dad’s account of the capture, enduring harsh starvation, illnesses, long hours of bullwork, beatings, infections, and death at Berga and the death march can be found at: marshallfoundation.org/…/27/2014/06/Kulas_Excerpts_of_an_Ex.pdf

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