Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Jewish-Americans in German Concentration Camps in World War II

As I have been doing research for the biography I’m writing of a Jewish-American soldier who was an infantryman in World War II, captured by the Germans and repatriated by the Russians, I have been reading a number of books about World War II. One book by Deborah Dash Moore titled, GI Jews: How World War II Changed a Generation, recounts stories of American prisoners of war in Germany who had to deal with the threat of further mistreatment because of their Jewish heritage.

Dog tags during World War II had an H for “Hebrew” to designate the Jewish religion. Some Jewish GIs had to hide their dog tags so they wouldn’t be separated and possibly taken to concentration camps.
Another book, Forgotten Victims, the Abandonment of Americans in Hitler’s Camps by Mitchell G. Bard, describes how some Jewish Americans were in Europe at the time war broke out and ended up being mistreated by the Nazis.

Furthermore, a number of Jewish-American POWs were put in concentration camps such as Berga, Buchenwald and Mauthausen, and suffered through starvation diets, beatings, threats, illegal work details and death marches. When those who survived later told their stories, American officials at first didn’t believe them.

The bottom line was that Hitler had no qualms about violating the Geneva Convention. It’s reported that when the end of the war neared, Hitler gave an order to kill all prisoners of war. Fortunately, this wasn’t carried out.
More lessons that we must never forget.

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