The story of Berga first came to the attention of News-Press staff writer Ray Weiss when he interviewed Bernie Melnick in connection with another story.
Melnick, 59, lives in Cape Coral. He was one of the survivors of Berga, a slave-labor camp where he and 349 other American soldiers, mostly Jews, were imprisoned by Nazi captors during World War II. In February 1983, Melnick agreed to talk about his experiences at the camp, but only after other Jewish survivors verified his story. He didn't want to be accused of making up wild tales about a bunch of GIs being singled out and sent to a concentration camp.
"I don't want to rattle any cages after 38 years, I'm not looking for any glory," he said.
Weiss was able to find five other survivors. Berga wasn't a fictitious tale.
The former POWs were found in California, New York, and Massachusetts, and they gave the same account as Melnick. Melnick said he planned to correspond with the men. But he had one regret.
"By now so many of the boys who survived Berga must be dead," he said. "Probably no more than a handful, maybe 25 to 40 of us are left."____________________