American POWs of World War II: Forgotten Men Tell Their Stories

By Tom Bird | Go to book overview

Appendix D: American Victims of the Holocaust

Mitchell G. Bard

Switching channels on my television set not long ago, I ran across "P.O.W. -- Americans in Enemy Hands," a documentary on American prisoners of war. In it, one World War II veteran gave a startling account of how he and his fellow Jewish prisoners had been segregated from their comrades in a prisoner-of-war camp and sent to a slave-labor camp. There, Jewish prisoners of war were beaten, starved, and literally worked to death.

This was the first I had ever heard of American victim of the Holocaust, and it stimulated me to investigate whether there indeed had been American Jews among the six million exterminated by the Nazis. I contacted Holocaust research institutes, survivors' organizations, military archives, and veterans' groups and discovered that there are only a few oblique references to American Jews who might have been killed as part of the "final solution." Rather than indicating that no American Jews died at the hands of the Nazis, the lack of information reflects the sad fact that these victims' stories have gone untold.

Remarkably, there is virtually no mention of Americans in any of the major or even minor works concerning the Holocaust. One of the few references appears in Martin Gilbert Atlas of the Holocaust, which lists 17 American natives who were deported to Auschwitz, ten of whom he says were U.S. citizens. Apparently, none survived. One American who did live to tell about his experience in a concentration camp was Barry Spanjaard. His book, Don't Fence Me In, documents that nightmare.

Reprinted from The Jewish Veterans, Fall 1990, by permission.

-129-

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