Cohen tells the little-known story of 350 American POWs used as slave labor by the Nazis, and why there was no particular recognition for these prisoners.Cohen tells the little-known story of 350 American POWs used as slave labor by the Nazis, and why there was no particular recognition for these prisoners.Read Less
Publishers Weekly, 2005-02-07 A former Balkans bureau chief for the New York Times, Cohen last explored atrocity in Hearts Grown Brutal: Sagas of Sarajevo; he now steps back 60 years and moves a few hundred kilometers west to recount the fate of 550 American POWs shipped into eastern Germany during the winter of 1944-1945. Most were Jewish-or appeared Jewish enough to satisfy Nazi officials, who needed to meet labor quotas the dying concentration camp inmates were no longer fit to handle. Cohen's interviews with survivors show that the POWs met nearly as dire a fate, as they dug underground to build a synthetic fuel plant, with 20% of them dying and others being crippled for life by rock falls, dust, starvation and by the brutal treatment from the guards. Postwar, the camp fell within what became East Germany, where the investigation into the Holocaust was less rigorously pursued than in the West. The guards got off lightly; the commandant was sentenced to only eight years. Following Germany's reunification, exploration into the methods and motives of the Third Reich has been losing support, Cohen shows; his outrage is plain when he encounters a German environmentalist who wants the surviving caves turned into a bird sanctuary. The book is well organized, but the writing style is not always smooth; it's Cohen's level of detail that makes this journalistic history come alive. 75,000-copy first printing. Agent, Amanda Urban. 7-city author tour. (Apr. 27) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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