U.S. POWS In A Nazi Concentration Camp:Described
Review Written By Bernie Weisz, Historian, Pembroke Pines, Florida April 22, 2011 Contact: BernWei1@aol.com Title of Review: U.S. POWS In A Nazi Concentration Camp:Described As a Million Dollar Experience Not Repeatable If Offered 2 Million!
Flint Whitlock has done it again! After reading and reviewing "Internal Conflicts" I was glad that the conclusion of that book was based on historical fiction. Quite the contrary, I was horrified that the contents of this book are very real and lurid, with such inhumane acts being inflicted to American prisoners of war that were doled out by barbaric men who in the end were given a slap on the wrist. The history of W. W. II is well known. However, "Given up For Dead" is not about the war, politics or the "Battle of the Bulge." It is about the American prisoners Hitler's forces took in their initial success at this battle, specifically 350 of them. The seven main protagonists that Whitlock used were Morton Brooks, Gerald Daub, Anthony Acevedo, Norman Fellman, Joe Mark, William Shapiro, and the only non Jew, Peter Iosso, who, as Whitlock would later write: "By Christmas (1944-45) they would be fighting for their very lives in struggles of great magnitude. And their fates would be intertwined in ways they never could have imagined." The Battle of the Bulge was the largest battle fought by the Americans in World War Two. 600,000 American troops were involved in the battle. The Americans lost 89,500 men while the Germans lost 100,000 killed, wounded and captured. 19,000 Americans were killed, 47,500 wounded, and 23,000 captured or missing. This book chronicles how Hitler's stooges treated Americans, particularly Jewish G.I.'s in captivity. Hitler's attack was so fast and furious, that many soldiers were captured without even their boots on. Immediately, the Geneva conference was flaunted by the Germans. Joe Mark reported after surrendering: "After capture, we were assembled by the road and Krause shared a K-ration with me. While waiting, the Germans prepared their anti aircraft weapons for transport. A German officer told one of the Americans to help. The American said it was against the Geneva Convention to help. The German said "Ja, Geneva Convention" and shot him." There are several books existent of how Germans were treated as POW's in this country, distributed in camps located in Wisconsin, Texas and New Hampshire, et al. There is no American equivalent as to the beastly treatment American G.I.'s were accorded in Nazi Stalag's, or Nazi sentiment if one was Jewish, Catholic,or "an undesirable" in Concentration Camps, used for slave labor. The stories told at Berga in the last part of Whitlock's book are nothing less than spell binding. Witnessing hangings of fellow POW's, threatened by German Shepard dogs, frozen, beaten, and starved, POW Joe Mark quipped: "Dying was of no great consequence, but being hungry was." The families of these POW's were notified that these men were "MIA" (missing in action), but other from that, they had vanished off the face of the earth. Unfed, full of body lice, working 12 hours a day for 40 days straight in the elements digging tunnels, POW's began dying. Shaving with broken glass, being fed only bread made of sawdust, ground glass and sand, camouflaged with barley, POW Medic William Shapiro, commenting on the horrid conditions at Berga, wrote that many men turned inward just trying to survive, cutting contact off with their fellow POW's. Afraid of Nazi "plants" among the POW's, no one dare complain. Shapiro had the following to say: "Food would activate the POW's into a frenzy, but after the distribution of the food, they would go off, climb into their bunks, and disassociate themselves with other men...I would learn the beginning signs of the "giving up" syndrome. This book is so disturbing that I am grateful that Whitlock had a few humorous stories to break up this unimaginable tale of human degradation. One was told by POW Joe Mark, right after German capture: "They marched us back to a town and searched me. I had a tin of aspirins, Bayer aspirin, and this German who was searching me thought I had taken them off a German because Bayer is a German product and he was going to shoot me, but a sergeant told him that Bayer was commonly distributed, so I wasn't shot."
POW Gerald Daub wrote about the constant underground drilling in the caves the following entry: "The air was just totally filled with stone dust. Everything coated with it, including your lungs filled with it. And we had no bathing facilities, so you can picture that, after a day or two, we just looked like cement statues walking around." Then there is the humorous story of Private William Thompson, a POW assigned to a German officer's quarters for housekeeping duty. With no one else there, he discovered a plate of cake and a bottle of brandy. Unable to resist, he imbibed the brandy and wolfed down the cake, finding himself completely inebriated. Thompson recalled: "The cake was almost gone and I was drunk as a sailor. I finally had to lie down on the commandant's freshly made bed. I was rudely shaken awake by an enlisted German guard who was shaking with fright at the sight of a drunken, lice-infested POW sleeping in the captain's bed after having consumed a cake and most of his fine brandy. I soon found myself on the operating end of a bucksaw, cutting logs for firewood. I had difficulty keeping the saw blade taut and was receiving a tongue lashing when I was saved by the flyover of a 1000 plane raid. The sky was filled with contrails, and P-47's weaved back and forth. We were looking up. I told my guard, "All is kaput-you're going to lose." He said, "When, for God's sake?" How many of the original POW's made it home? Who liberated them, and how? During the war crimes trials, were the Nazi's that were guilty of atrocities receive punishment commensurate to their crimes? How much did the "Cold War" of the late 1940's affected the outcome of those trials? Were any of the POW's allowed to testify? Since Flint Whitlock did a follow up of the originally mentioned 7 POW's, did any in this groups suffer from "Survivor Syndrome" or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?" You will have to read "Given Up For Dead" to discover the answer. I guarantee you will not be disappointed!