Sunday, November 25, 2012

(USA) Guests of the Third Reich--National WWII Museum

Posted by Jan Meisels Allen

The National WWII Museum (USA) [ http://www.ddaymuseum.org/] located in New Orleans, Louisiana will be holding a special exhibit  November 11, 2012 through July 7, 2013, Guests of the Third Reich: American POWs in Europe  http://www.guestsofthethirdreich.org/home/.  There is an interactive map depicting the locations of  selected European POW camps.
 
Over 120,000 out of 16 million Americans serving in WWII spent time as prisoners of war (POW).  While the Nazi's "generally adhered " to the Geneva Convention, those American troops captured  in the Pacific by the Japanese -- 27, 465-- were not protected by the same restraints--over 40 percent died.  Wartime circumstances and the leanings of individual camp leaders dictated the fates of those held captive in Europe--92, 820 men lived to tell their experiences.  About 1,100 or 1 percent of the Americans held as POWs by the Nazi's perished. These approximately 93,000  Americans were anything but "guests" of the Nazis.
 
In the exhibit there are several panels that  explain how, for the most part, Jewish-American POWs, many of whom either didn't designate a religion on their dog tags or ditched them before capture, were not separated from their comrades and sent to concentration camps. [I had a family member taken and kept with his comrades and Stalag IVB in Mulberg].   There were exceptions. In January 1945, the commandant at Stalag IXB rounded up 350 prisoners based on name or physical characteristics, and shipped them to the Berga concentration camp.
 
Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee
 

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