Mitchell Bard 
 
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© Mitchell Bard 2016

Forgotten Victims: The Abandonment
of Americans in Hitler's Camps

 

Forgotten VictimsDid you know:

Americans were in concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Dachau?

Americans were in the Warsaw Ghetto?

Thousands of Americans were placed in internment camps?

American Jewish soldiers were sometimes segregated from their comrades in POW camps?

American Jewish POWs were sent to a slave labor camp that had the highest fatality rate of any POW camp?

One common explanation for the world's failure to prevent the Holocaust is that the information about the Nazi extermination program seemed too incredible to believe. Fifty years later, Americans may now also find it difficult to believe that their fellow citizens were among the 12 million people murdered by the Nazis, abandoned to this fate by their own government.

The outbreak of war in Europe put tens of thousands of American civilians, especially Jews, in deadly peril, but the State Department failed to help them. As a consequence of this callous policy many suffered — and some died.

Later, when the United States joined the war against Hitler, many brave young Americans were captured and imprisoned. Jewish soldiers were at a special risk — they were sent into battle with a telltale “H” (for “Hebrew”) on their dog tags, which helped the Nazis single them out for mistreatment. One group of Jewish GIs was sent to the brutal Berga concentration camp, which had the highest fatality rate of any camp where American POWs were held. Other POWs were sent to other notorious concentration camps, like Buchenwald and Mauthausen, where they became victims of the machinery of the “Final Solution.”

Why is it that none of the hundreds of books about the Holocaust has examined the fate of Americans who fell into Nazi hands? Perhaps it is because the number of American victims was small compared to the total that perished. Perhaps it is due to the perception of the Holocaust as a European phenomenon; most people assumed that Americans could not have become victims. But the main reason this story has gone untold for a half century is that much of the evidence has been concealed by our own government.

The U.S. government had good reasons to cover up the story. The revelation that Americans were mistreated and their government knew and failed to do anything about it would certainly raise uncomfortable questions about this country's failure to offer safe haven to the Nazis' main target: European Jews.

FORGOTTEN VICTIMS provides documentary evidence proving that American officials knew that U.S. civilians and soldiers (Jews and non-Jews) were in danger, that they were being mistreated (including being placed in concentration camps) and that they were even being murdered by the Nazis. The story of how European Jewry was forsaken by the Western Allies is by now familiar, but this book exposes for the first time the abandonment of American Jews.


What Reviewers and Experts Say About Forgotten Victims


Elie Wiesel:

"I read Mitchell Bard's revelations about the `Forgotten Victims' with a feeling of deep frustration and pain. Not enough was known about the fate of American Jews in Hitler's death camps. Why were they abandoned? Why were they forgotten? The answers are as painful as the questions."

Abraham Foxman, Director of the ADL:

"Mitchell Bard's compelling account of American GIs and citizens who were herded into Nazi concentration camps and abandoned by their government exposes yet another outrage in the dark history of the Holocaust. Bard shatters the belief that American citizenship guarantees safe passage abroad. We are all indebted to him for his lust for truth and his tenacity in uncovering it."

Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center:

"Forgotten Victims brings home the tragedy of Americans caught in the Nazi web. Mr. Bard's extensively researched book brings to light a hitherto unknown chapter of the Holocaust and gives much needed recognition to Americans forgotten by their own government."

Brewster Chamberlin, Director of Archives, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum:

"Dr. Bard's book is the only comprehensive account of the subject based on thorough archival research and is a much welcome addition to the literature on the war and the camps in particular."

Meir Ronnen, Book Review in the Jerusalem Post:

"Dr. Bard's book is the only authoritative account of what happened to some Jewish and Gentile GIs who were sent to concentration camps and who were effectively abandoned by their country."

Publishers Weekly:

"Based on original documents and interviews with survivors, this shocking study reveals that Washington officials knew that U.S. citizens were brutalized and murdered in Nazi concentration camps, and failed to take steps to save hundreds, perhaps thousands, of American lives."

Martin Gilbert, Book Review in the London Times:

"Even the names of certain camps where Jews died do not appear in most Holocaust literature. This is true, for example, of the camp at Berga, a German village on the old Czechoslovakian border. Thanks to the researches of Mitchell G. Bard, this camp has at least been placed on the map of locations where Jews were murdered."

Presidential Studies Quarterly:

"[A] valuable and needed study.... Bard's account of the horrors which these individuals and others encountered is moving and his criticism of the American government constitutes an indictment of FDR's administration."

Choice:

"Bard's work is a well-researched analysis of the histories of U.S. citizens held in German captivity during the Nazi era.... These tragic data contribute to the long-neglected historiography of American war captives."

Forward:

"[The] astonishing and heretofore untold story of American soldiers caught up in the machinery of the Final Solution, imprisoned and murdered in Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Bergen-Belsen and other Nazi concentration camps."

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Forgotten Victims: The Abandonment of Americans in Hitler's Camps