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Hundreds of American GIs Held in Concentration Camp

By Justin Ewers 
Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: January 30, 2009 
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FEBRUARY/MARCH 2009 – About 350 American POWs who either were Jewish or appeared to be to their German captors were imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp during World War II, according to survivors who have begun telling their stories in a series of special reports on CNN.

Anthony Acevedo, a medic in the 70th Infantry Division during the war, was the first survivor to step forward with the grisly tale of the American soldiers held at Berga an der Elster, a subcamp of Buchenwald. After being captured during the Battle of the Bulge, Acevedo says he was sent to a POW camp near Bad Orb, Germany, where he was held with other American soldiers. About a month later, the camp's commander told the prisoners to line up and ordered all of the Jewish soldiers to take one step forward. When few volunteered, Acevedo says, about 90 Jewish soldiers and more than 250 others the Germans thought "looked like Jews" were put on a train to Buchenwald. Acevedo, a Mexican American, is not Jewish.

Once he arrived at the concentration camp, he saw dozens of his fellow soldiers beaten, starved, and in some cases executed for trying to escape. Forced to dig tunnels for 12 hours a day in the final weeks of the war, the prisoners were given 100 grams of bread per week and soup made from rats. As a medic, Acevedo was required to use wax to fill up the holes in the skulls of prisoners who had been executed. When American military units neared the camp, the prisoners were forced with the rest of the camp's inmates on a three-week death march. Fewer than half of the remaining soldiers survived.

Those who did were sworn to secrecy by the army. "We had to sign an affidavit…[saying] we never went through what we went through. We weren't supposed to say a word," Acevedo told CNN. Frank Shirer, the chief archivist at the U.S. Army Center of Military History, asserted that the men's stories were kept secret "to protect escape and evasion techniques and the names of personnel who helped POW escapees."

Last fall, Acevedo, 84, finally broke his silence, determined to share his experience with the world. After his story appeared on CNN, two congressmen asked the U.S. Army to recognize the service of Acevedo and the rest of the Berga soldiers. "These heroes have not received the recognition and honor they deserve," Reps. Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) wrote in a letter to the army secretary in November.


19 Responses to “Hundreds of American GIs Held in Concentration Camp”


  1. 1
    pablo says:

    this site sucks

  2. 2
    dona febee adono says:

    i think your site is alright it is true history that will not ever be forgotton.

  3. 3
    dona febee adono says:

    he should have broken his word when they got back to our people.no one should stay quiet about anything like that at all.not then and not now.

  4. 4
    Mary says:

    My father was liberated from a forced labor camp on April 8th, 1945 but I can't find which one. Is there somebody I can contact to see if he is on the list of Americans liberated from Berga? I have tried the military and VA, but they are of no assistance. Told me his records were destroyed by a fire in 1972 at the VA Adminstration in Oklahoma. I'd appreciate any help I can get as I want to take my children and grandchildren to where he was captured (St. Vith on December 23rd, 1944) and to where he was liberated from…. his strength and courage to survive is why we are here today.

    • 4.1
      Miguel B says:

      Your best bet would be to contact the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. Altho it is focused in some ways on Jewish victims of the war and Holocaust, they do wonderful work and unlike the VA or the US military, they are absolutely on fire to assist people to research the camps and the war, to find out the truth about their families, all in order to preserve the stories and the memories of those who suffered and/or perisheds, that the truth about the horrors of World War II will never be forgotten.

  5. 5
    "chance" says:

    POOR PABLO THINKS THIS SITE IS LESS THAN HE EXPECTS?
    WELL, PABLO, WHY NOT DISCONNECT YOUR COMPUTER
    OR DO YOU NEED HELP WITH THAT…….
    CHANCE…VIETNAM VET

  6. 6
    Nelson says:

    There is more to this story. I watched the CNN special. A movie should be made, to show what these men went thru and the truth be known. Acevedo, a Mexican-American who grew up in Pasadena, California, in a barro call " Chihuahita". Mexican_Americans have recieved so little reconition for their part in the war.

  7. 7
    Brooke says:

    My grandfather was captured at the Battle of the Bulge and sent to a camp as well. I don't know that this was the camp that he was tortured at, but there was an Army officer that contacted my family in the last couple of years. He had a book with the names of the men that were there, and he was trying to write a book about their experience.

    • 7.1
      Charlotte says:

      My brother was also captured at the Battle of the Bulge and sent to camp as well. He never told of being tortured, but I heard today he had told someone I know that he was tortured. He never told this to any family member. I feel so sad, he was a great brother to me and passed away in 2005. His name should be there also. He had to eat broth and dark bread one day and then the next he would wash in the broth it was so thin. This was in the winter.

      • 7.1.1
        Karen Williams says:

        I, too, am trying to find a roster of names of US GIs taken to CAMP BAD ORB and then to….? Maybe Buchenwald or Bergen-Belsen. Many of the stories he told me are so similar but I know he ended up "farming" for the German officers @ the last camp. He was captured near Bastogne in early Jan 1945. I recall he told me the day his camp was liberated was the day the American troops had gotten word that President Roosevelt died. So, I'd have to guess that it was Apr 12, or 13th, 1945. If anyone out there has any info, please respond. Thank you! I am trying to compile a history of these events for my children. They really don't teach much about WWII anymore and we cannot lose this information!

  8. 8
    Doug jenkins says:

    My uncle Vernon Jenkins was prisoner in BAd Orb. He was a member of the 5th regiment, 29th Division of the Maryland National Guard. He was captured in St. Vith during the Battle of The Bulge. My dad Robert P Jenkins was in Malmidy, app.23km distance from from St. Vith when my uncle was reported missing in action. He was liberated when the takenby American forces. My uncle was a staff Sargent so he was one of the leaders in the camp. Others in the camp referee to him as "Pops". According to my cousin Joyce my uncle kept a diary during his captivity. I only know of one quote from the diary.."when you found a worm in your soup, you cut it in half and gave half to your best friend"..

  9. 9
    Robert S. KIlborne IV says:

    My GodFather, Private John "Jack" P. Ebbott, was captured at or near Parker's Cross Roads near Saint Vinth, on December 22, or 23, 1944. He was an 18 yr. old medic who received the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and for helping injured soldiers to get back across to American lines using cows to help hide them, before being caught and taken prisoner. I was told he was taken Auschwitz and Buchenwald, because of business Chase Manhattan Bank did with the Nazi's during WWII earlier in the war, before Pearl Harbor. Jack's father, Percy Ebbott was President of Chase Manhattan Bank at the time of his capture and it was believed he was used to extort financial concessions from Chase at the time. He was finally released by the Russians to American military after the war and was interviewed in June of 1946 concerning the actions he witnessed as reflected in the records of Nazi War Crimes now available on line. Jack was like a father to me long after my real father died, and his family ultimately abandoned him when he became mentally ill with Bi-Polar Disorder due to what he witnessed at the camps and at the Bulge. He was just being assigned to the 7th Armored Battalion. He reportedly weighed around 100 lbs. after being released by the Army and allowed to return home – he was well over 6'3" tall. He was a great man and a wonderful father to me who I loved like a true father and to have been awarded the Silver Star, America's third highest medal for his actions before being taken prisoner. Anyone with knowledge of him or his time as a POW is asked to contact me at 858.6552.9393. There were definitely hundreds if not thousands of American soldiers who were placed in Concentration Camps for a variety of reasons and anyone with knowledge John "Jack" Ebbott, the medic, captured at the Bulge at the star of the battle or his actions leading to his capture or as a POW was simply one of many who died in the war, but simply long after because of what occurred in the death camps he was interred in. He was forced to dig graves for bodies that the Nazi's were trying to bury before the war ended and may also have been used to dig tunnels. The Devil walked the earth and ran those camps and may Jacko and I see each other again in Heaven. He is and was always my hero. Please call me if you have any information or knew him as he was a good man and suffered terribly after the war from the impact of the war crimes he witnessed and was forced to work performing. It killed him as surely as a bullet during the war, just later in his life and after years of hellish torment. NEVER FORGET THESE THINGS HAPPENED AND 2 OUT OF EVERY 3 JEWS LIVING IN EUROPE WHEN HITLER TOOK POWER WERE DEAD BY THE END OF THE WAR IN 1945. AGAIN MY NAME IS ROBERT KILBORNE IV, TEL: 858.652.9393 EMAIL: rskilborne@kilborne.com

  10. 10
    Paul says:

    Chance:

    CONCUR

    Iraq

  11. 11
    Terry Broberg-Swangin says:

    Like so many others, I am too am looking for information on my father, Sgt. Carl A. Broberg, Jr., nicknamed "Sandy". He died in 1974 and told us very little about this episode in his life. I know there were scars on his body and there were scars in his mind.

    All I know is that he was in the Infantry and was captured at the Battle of the Bulge and that he was a POW. Due to the same fire that another writer referred to, I cannot get his military records.

    God bless and comfort all our prisoners and bring peace to their minds and souls.

    • 11.1
      Miguel B says:

      Repeating my comment from above…. Your best bet would be to contact the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. Altho it is focused in some ways on Jewish victims of the war and Holocaust, they do wonderful work and unlike the VA or the US military, they are absolutely on fire to assist people to research the camps and the war, to find out the truth about their families, all in order to preserve the stories and the memories of those who suffered and/or perished, so that the truth about the horrors of World War II will never be forgotten. Although they are not historians for the military, I bet they could gladly give you more info in an hour than you could get from the VA in ten years of begging.

  12. 12
    Denise says:

    Did you find out anything about your dad?

  13. 13
    Sharon Hill Burton says:

    It is possible that my father and your father were in the same camp. The local newspaper article is dated April 12, 1945, that says my father was liberated by the Russians. Military records state that my dad was held at Bad Orb, Germany Stallag 9B. I also know that my dad never talked about his service, the information I have was obtained after his death. I have heard that he was sworn to secrecy, which might be why he never talked about it. I have contacted the Veterans seeking information, with his serial number. I have been told that all records were burned in a fire in 1973, I find that hard to believe since the government does everything in triplicate. I can not find my dads name on any rosters in any of the prison camps. I do know that he was in forced labor, and in a forced march. He went into the service weighing 198, and came out of the camps weighing only 98 pounds. He was held just under 6 months, so the conditions had to be pretty severe to lose that kind of weight. I keep hoping that I can find answers but the trail is hard to follow without any hard copy.

  14. 14
    Pat Powell says:

    My great uncle only talked briefly about his time as a POW…it was documented by the war department in a letter to his mother as well as publized in the Stars and Stripes paper….he told us that he was held for 3 years and was liberated by the Russians as well…I have been watching the different documentaries looking to see if he was in any of the pictures at Berga…I find it interesting how well photographed and how much video tape is on these horrific events of war..I am going to get out his discharge paper and contact the Holocaust to see what I can find…good luck in your search



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