May 30, 2016, - 5:23 pm

Memorial Day 2016 – MUST SEE VIDEO: American Soldiers Amidst the Nazis That Few Know About

By Debbie Schlussel


American Soldier Visits the Grave of John Simcox and At Least 21 Other American Soldiers Who Died as POWs @ Berga Nazi Concentration Camp

I’ll post my full Memorial Day piece shortly. But before I do, I want you to know about this tragic, harrowing experience of some American soldiers during World War II and how many died under the worst conditions imposed upon them by the Nazis. It’s a story many Americans still don’t know about. The American soldiers in this true, documented story were particularly heroic, as they could have saved themselves and lived, but instead, they gave their lives in solidarity with Jewish GIs who were captured among them. I’m particularly thankful to these American heroes who sacrificed when they didn’t have to. And in many cases, they died because of it, never to see their families again, never to live out their lives, never to see their children marry or their grandchildren be born.

These men are the American soldiers of Berga, a “satellite” of Buchenwald–among the most brutal Nazi concentration camps. They are men like Hans Kasten IV and Donald Hildenbrand and Anthony Acevedo. Those three men lived, but many others in their shoes, like John Simcox, did not. They were among the thousands American soldiers who were captured by the Nazis in 1945 when they were on the front lines in Germany in the Battle of the Bulge. Of those thousands, the Nazis demanded to know which men were Jewish. Some could not escape this as they had an “H” (for Hebrew) on their dog tags and/or had Jewish surnames, like Shapiro. The men were all sent to various buildings at a camp, with each building electing a leader to be the intermediary with the Nazis. One building elected Don Hildenbrand, and he and Kasten refused to identify which of the men were Jewish. As a result, the Nazis rounded up all of those in the building with Jewish-sounding names, all of those who “looked Jewish,” and the men who refused to identify the Jews. They were sent to Berga, where many of them died. They were all heroes who gave their lives, rather than point out the Jews to the Nazis.

350 American soldiers went to Berga. Many of them died there. Documentary filmmaker Charles Guggenheim was in their unit, but because of an illness he contracted, he was not there when they were captured. One day he went to look up an old friend from the unit and discovered that his friend was among the murdered who died at Berga, and he uncovered the story of what happened there. He brought it all to life in an incredibly touching and moving documentary, “Berga: Soldiers of Another War,” which aired on PBS back in 2003. Even though PBS is usually filled with anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic bullcrap, this film was one of its best programs ever. My late father, a U.S. Army veteran who served during the Vietnam War, called me that night, back in 2003, to watch. And I was glad I did. The phone rang that night again, after it was over, and we talked about it and how moved we both were. I re-watched the DVD of “Berga,” today, and it was one of the best–though very sad–experiences I’ve ever had on Memorial Day. (More about “Berga” here and here.)


American GIs Captured & Sent to Berga

The American men who lost their lives at Berga were truly righteous, truly heroic. They were starved and frozen and worked to death. And many of them were beaten brutally on a daily basis while they were still alive at the camp. Those who survived were darn lucky. And they were stubborn with the will to survive. Given the brutal, deadly conditions at “Berga,” often the will to survive was not enough.

If you haven’t seen “Berga,” I urge you to purchase the video and watch it. It is well worth it and an important reminder of the heroism and righteousness of our troops and what they’ve done throughout American history to save others, often–as we remember today–making the ultimate sacrifice.


American POWs Who Survived Berga (Including Alvin Abrams, at Right)


Berga Survivors, Many of Whom Were Americans

Today, and every day, I remember the sacrifices of those American soldiers who went to Berga–those who died there (may they rest in peace) . . . AND those who survived and lived to tell about it. Watch the movie and let their story live on. I also recommend a great book on this subject, “Soldiers and Slaves: American POWs Trapped by the Nazis’ Final Gamble.”

Since I normally give ratings for movie reviews–and even though this is a solemn day (or is supposed to be and once was)–this is a FOUR REAGANS PLUS movie, and I urge every single American to see it and remember.


More (not nearly as good or as touching as the “Berga” documentary linked above, but gives you a good idea):

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4 Responses

You talk about Jewish sounding names, and maybe I’m just ignorant, but I thought “Shapiro” was an Italian name.

It sure sounds Italian (to me).

As for “Abrams”, Creighton Abrams was the commanding general in Viet Nam when I was there, and the M-1 “Abrams” tank is named after him (I think).

If “Abrams” is a Jewish name, then that’s a new one on me.

I remember a fellow being surprised that I didn’t know that “Berlin” was a Jewish name.

On the other hand, I’ve never paid any attention to who was Jewish and who wasn’t.

I was very surprised to learn that I was the only Christian on the bus when I was touring Israel.

That fact only enhanced the pleasure of the trip, because I was eating it all up, and having a blast.

Yes, I remember seeing these heroic stories on TV, but I think it was a few years ago.

JRM: Thanks again, as always, for your and your late parents’ many years of service to our country. Shapiro is almost always (if not always) a Jewish surname, even though it ends in a vowel and may sound Italian (if I were not Jewish and in the know, I would think the same thing, as it does sound Italian). Abrams is not always a Jewish surname but is often one, just like Abraham or Abrahamson. Gen. Creighton Abrams was not, as you point out, Jewish (he was Methodist, I believe). But, FYI, he was very philo-Semitic and made sure that it was easier for Jews serving in Vietnam to observe their holidays, including and especially Passover. He sent out a message to all Jewish personnel regarding the holiday. DS

John Robert Mallernee on May 30, 2016 at 7:03 pm

Thank you, DS. Just because USA has devolved into The United States Of Kardashian does not mean the smart peeps shouldn’t continue to remember what a great country USA is and how it was built on freedom and liberty.

I wrote this earlier and I mean it…”I am thankful to ALL the brave who gave their lives for what was and is the REAL spirit of America. Whether the leadership and representatives are filled with charlatans and those seeking their own (non-American) power and glory. It does NOT mean individual Americans have lost the spirit of what America stands for and what it is or was. It’s more powerful than the selfish.”

It was sort of in response to some Libtarded crapola I was seeing spewed. Libtardism really IS a mental disease. These freaks are so effing ill it warps their reality and they construct this self-righteous facade of being all caring and loving. In reality, these effers are angry, nasty and disturbed. We can see right through them but they think we can’t. On Friday I was at a customer at a place and this mean-faced, clipped-haired Libtard with flowing scarfs cut me off at the beverage station to fill up her water-bottle with ice and water. I was a paying customer and she wasn’t. She’d be the first to call Trump a bully but this water-hog showed her true colours and is an actual bully. I just mocked her and called her out on her faux Libtardism. People like her will mock our country and our soldiers but these freakos couldn’t save an ant colony let alone a country. Joan Baez albums and Das Kapital will never aid in saving ANYONE!

So the rantings of the Libtard (too bad they are not near extinction!) will surely anger you but just remember they are sicky sickos. Don’t feel sorry for them, just avoid them.

Thanks for your kind words on another thread, Alberto! I try to be as blunt as I can because the truth needs to get out there and why even bother to lie or sugar-coat. I always focus on the TRUTH more than anything else…

Skunky on May 30, 2016 at 7:08 pm

It was a time when there were Americans who would not betray their comrades in the face of enemy pressure. Such acts of self-sacrifice have become rarer and rarer in our society.

Worry on May 30, 2016 at 8:03 pm

The Nazi’s were so overly concerned with the physical characteristics that they believed were the qualities of a superior race that they couldn’t see the truth right in front of them…the CHARACTER of soldiers like Simcox, Kasten, et al, was something the low-life Nazi vermin scum could NEVER attain to.

I don’t watch TV or movies anymore but I’m sure going to get a copy of that DVD. Thanks for the post Debbie…truly inspiring.

YCHtT on June 6, 2016 at 3:18 am

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