Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Documentary Review: Hitler's G.I. Death Camp

This movie, presented by The National Geographic Channel tells a forgotten story of a Nazi Concentration Camp and Americans POWs being sent there.  They were taken captive at the Battle of the Bulge, and were not treated as normal prisoners.  They were taken to Camp Berga, a camp which participated in the Jewish Holocaust.  The Nazis identified Jewish prisoners whenever they could.  Those identified (which wasn't too difficult as this information was on their dog tags) were placed in the concentration side of the camp.  Also those who appeared Jewish, or had Jewish names just to make sure.  At Camp Berga they were turned into slaves.  They were part of a general Nazi Party campaign to over work and under feed prisoners until they would die.  This camp had a very high death rate.  The men were forced to work digging tunnels, which were to become a Nazi factory for synthetic fuel.  Every on was beaten, more than once.  Dysentery was rampant.  Many of the G.I.s resisted the forced labor movement by creating accidents.  In this accidents equipment would be destroyed.  The beating would be general to make sure the beat whoever may have been responsible.
Even as the Americans moved closer to the camp; the Nazis took the prisoners on a forced march.  This was in two groups, the Jewish civilian prisoners, and the G.I. prisoners, who were behind the first group.  Many died during the march.  An overcrowded cart was provided for some of those who could not keep up.  It was so overcrowded, daily some would suffocate in the cart.  Others who could not keep up were just shot.  There was a steep climb, and when the G.I.s came upon the location it was strewn with bodies of the civilian group who could not make it to the top.  Finally, the Nazi guards took off as the American soldiers were catching up to them.  Those who survived were rescued by an American tank company.  The men all had lice, were half of their normal weight, and many had illness and injuries because of their ordeal.  It is amazing anyone survived such treatment.  In this instance, the Jewish Holocaust filtered onto American G.I.s who were prisoners of war.

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