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Berga am Elster:
An American Slave in Nazi Germany

by John W. Reifenrath


Berga: Table of Contents | Photographs | POW Testimonies


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John - B Company 423 Infantry 106th Infantry Division - was captured during the Battle of the Bulge and was imprisoned in the Stalag 9B POW camp. He was later sent to Berga am Elster. John wrote his story March 26, 1997. Footnotes were added to further explain or clarify his story. The editing was done by Pete House, the historian of the Stalag 9A, 9B, 13B and Berga ex-POW association.

On February 8, 1945, 350 American prisoners were sent from Bad Orb to a slave labor camp at Berga Am Elster.(1) They included the American Jewish soldiers as well as those of us from my barracks and others that the Germans thought they might have trouble with.(2) We were marched down to the rail yards in the town of Bad Orb where we were loaded into the "40 & 8" box cars. This time we were more comfortable that our first box car ride. Our trip was four days long but a good part of the time was spent in waiting for the railroads tracks to be repaired from the damage caused by Allied bombs. For the trip we received one red cross food package to be shared by two men. Charles Carter and I shared one box.(3)

Upon arrival at Berga we were marched to newly constructed barracks on a hill about a mile from the town. There were four barracks. The barracks were surrounded by barb wire fences and guard towers. The barracks were one story wooden buildings with two large rooms and a common entry way. Most of each room was taken up by wooden bunks. They were double bunks with corn shuck mattresses and stacked three high.

At night we were locked in and had to use the wooden boxes provided for latrines which leaked some or overflowed. They had to be empted each morning into the outdoor slit trench latrine. Those who got this job were ones who tried to escape, were caught stealing or were unlucky enough to be picked by the guards. There was electricity in the barracks and I think just one light bulb in each half which was on all night. The compound outside the barracks was well lighted.

After we had been there for a while our medics were allowed to set up a dispensary in half of the last barracks.(4) Those who were deemed sick were allowed to go there. We turned over whatever we had in the way of medical supplies. In my case it only a first aid pack with bandages and sulfa powder.

A doctor was brought up from town periodically to look at the sick. At sick call many lined up who were not really sick and the doctor after seeing some who were not sick stopped and went back to town. Those who were sick and could not line up quick enough did not get to be seen. After this happened the sergeant(5) decided he would say who could see the doctor. Thus some sick men who Metz decided were not sick died. Dave Young(6) in my barracks was not able to fall out for work one morning and Metz pulled him out of his bunk and threw a bucket of cold water on him. He died a couple of minutes later with what we though was diphtheria.

We were divided into two work shifts, one for 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and one from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. I was in the 6 a.m. shift. We were marched down the hill to the tunnel site and were assigned to the various tunnels to work with German civilians.

The first group to work was from the barracks nearest to the gate. This barracks included all of those of Jewish faith. They worked the 2:00 p.m. shift. When they came in at 10:30 p.m. they said it was terrible and that we should refuse to go out for our 6:00 a.m. shift. We felt that we were not is a position that we could refuse and did go our for our first shift. I must admit that my first march to the tunnel site was with a great deal of concern. We had heard that the civilians had been bobmed out of Aachen and had lost homes and families. My buddy Charles Carter and I together with several others were assigned to tunnel number 12. At first we had to fallout at 5:30 for our shift. As it became harder to get men out for work as the days went by, we had to fall out earlier and earlier.

At the end of our first shift we had to wait until almost 2:45 for the guards who would take us back up the hill after bringing down the 2:00 p.m. shift. We learned that this group had gone on strike. Some refused to leave the barracks and some hid under the barracks. Guards with fixed bayonets and police dogs got everyone out to come down to work although late.

I guess that those of us in tunnel 12 were more fortunate than those in other tunnels. Perhaps because I had grown up in Cripple Creek,(7) Colorado which was in a hard rock gold mining area, I knew what the work was like although I had never worked underground. I believe that the civilians with whom we worked were more humane that those in some of the tunnels. Until they had a cut in their rations some would give us a part of their sandwich. We had no food or water during our eight hour shift.

The tunnels were being driven into a bluff along the Elster River. As I remember it there were 17 tunnels numbered 1 to 18 with no number 13. They were 8 to 10 feet wide and about the same height. When we started working they were in about 150 feet. The rock was very hard and had to be drilled and blasted. Ties and rails were laid for the tram cars to run on to carry the broken rock out and dump it. The track ran out of the tunnel about one hundred feet toward the river to a turn table. We had to push the cars to the turn table and then turn them 900 to the left to match up with track that ran parallel to the river and on to where they were dumped.

We were fortunate in our tunnel that there was a compressed air operated loader (mucking machine) and we had to load the rock that the machine couldn't reach. There was an air duct that brought outside air into the tunnel. When our tunnel was in about 200 feet it began to turn to the left. They began to make the ceiling higher. Shortly after this we were pulled out of the tunnels to work outside. With half of the tunnels turning to the left and half to the right they would meet and make one large room.

The working conditions were bad for everyone in the tunnels. The drills were not the modern ones with a stream of water going down the center of the drill steel. The drills used made dust so thick that you could not see more that three feet when they were operated. Over time under these conditions lung could accumulate rock dust that could not be coughed up and could cause death.

Neither we or the civilians had miner's hard hats to protect our heads from falling rock. Those of us who had been able to keep our steel helmets and liners did have protection. We had to work in the clothes we were wearing when captured. We had no gloves or safety shoes. Little scratches or nicks would soon become sore and fester. When the weather got warmer, Carter made himself a pair of mitts from a piece of blanket. He sewed them together with the thin electrical wire that was used in detonating the dynamite.

We had to help with the drilling at times by sitting back to back on a plank that sloped up when the hole had to be drilled at an upward angle. We had to push against the civilian's back who was holding the drill. A few times I was on the drill.

In working with the civilians we learned that if we sort of kept in motion when there was work to be done things seemed to go along fairly well. When some of the "brass" came along the civilians scurried around looking busy and so did we.

One day a tram car on its way to be dumped got away from us and ran off the end of the track and down the dump. There was nothing said to us for letting it get away.

According to an ex-army corporal who was the tunnel boss of the first civilians we worked with, they did not like working int the tunnels either. We learned that they had three choices:

1. Work in the tunnels, or

2. Be put in the army and sent to the Russian front, or

3. Be sent to a concentration camp.

After four weeks the civilians in the tunnels had to change shifts. Those in our tunnel had to work from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. We got the civilians that had worked with our 2:00 p.m. shift. The boss of this group of civilians was an older short man about 5 foot 4 with a short fuse. He would give a boot to the seat or a rap on the helmet. I got one boot and one helmet rap. I could not speak German but could get the gist of what he said and he began to tell me what he wanted done so I could pass it on.

I think that with the change of civilian workers the loading machine was pulled out of our tunnel. All of the loading of the tram cars had to be done by hand. This meant shoveling and picking up the large rocks by hand. It took two of us to pick up the larger rocks because we were getting weaker.

On the first or second day after the civilians changed shifts and while we were waiting to start work at 6:00 a.m., one of the civilians we had worked with was hanging around. He acted a little nervous and kept looking around. He came up to me and handed me a small apple. Then he took off at almost a run.

Now the the loading of the cars was done by hand, steel plates were sued for the blasted rock to fall on. These "mucking plates" were laid flat on the tunnel floor and pushed up against the rock face when the drilling was finished. After blasting we had to shovel the rock into the cars. The use of the plates made the shoveling much easier. It is easy to push a shovel under rock while the shovel is resting on the plate. It is hard if not almost impossible to try to push a shovel into the middle of a pile of rock. For some reason our men who worked the afternoon shift were pulled and put to work with us on early shift. They were spread among the tunnels. One man who came to our tunnel was trying to shovel into the middle of the rock pile. The tunnel boss grabbed the shovel from ham and showed him how to use the steel plate. In a few minutes he was back th the middle of the pile. This time the boss grabbed the shovel and swatted him on his backside with the flat of the shovel.

I had a wrist watch which was a high school graduation present on which the expandable wrist band had broken. I carried in my pocket. Our second boss had no watch and he would ask me for the time. At night I hung in on a nail by my head. I was on the top bunk next to the wall and slept with my head against the wall. I would fall asleep in an exhausted stupor for several hours. One night some fellow GI climbed up on the bunk without awaking either myself or my buddy Carter who was sleeping next to me and stole my watch. The tunnel boss was furious the nest day when he found out that it had been stolen. He stood outside the tunnel and stopped anyone who he thought might have my watch. A few days later someone took my GI sweater that I had hung just outside the tunnel. When the boss found that out he stood outside the tunnel and stopped everyone who had a GI sweater. Both had probably been traded for food or cigarettes.(8)

A week or so before Easter Sunday we were moved from the barracks on the hill down to barracks close to the tunnel site.(9)

We were separated from a compound of concentration camp prisoners from Buchanwald by a double wire fence. There was a large building in the compound that looked like it had been a warehouse or factory. These prisoners were used in various tasks outside the tunnels and were not allowed to have contact with us or the tunnel civilians. They were used to carry rails, ties and other materials. I don't believe that I saw them on the tunnel side of the river. SS soldiers guarded them.

It was amazing to me to see several of these political prisoners who were fat. They must have been doing a lucrative bartering business. That may have been where my watch and sweater went. They would hang around to try for a trade if guards were not close and would scurry off when a guard came along. I remember seeing one trying to stay out of sight under the wooden bridge that we crossed over the river to go to work.

These prisoners wore the black and gray striped pants and jackets that were worn in all the concentration camps. Most of them were very thin and some very feeble. Some walked as if in a trance. We called it the "Zombie Walk". They walked as though they were robots. There was no expression in their eyes. To see one walking toward you you felt that if you did not step aside they would walk right over you.

Our food at first was more than we got at Bad Orb but it was not enough for the hard work we were doing. At first three of us had to share a loaf of the heavy dark bread. Later we were down to five men to a loaf. The soup had virtually no meat in it. Sometimes we got a bite of cheese or sausage or jam or margarine. These also became less as time went on. I remember a few times having oatmeal and potato soup. When we were on the hill a food detail of our men would take a cart down(10) to the town and pull it back up the hill with our food. I don't know where it was prepared, perhaps at the concentration camp compound.

We had elected one of our men in our barracks to be in charge and represent us. He found out how many men the Germans wanted for our shift each day and worked out a schedule that would have let each of us have a day off periodically. I was able to rest the first week. This arrangement was short lived and died from lack of cooperation.

We worked seven days a week but everyone had Easter Sunday off including the civilians. For Easter we got an extra ration of soup. That was a mistake because we were not used to that much food. It gave many of us diarrhea and cramps. I didn't eat all of mine and saved part. I got diarrhea and stomach cramps anyhow.

We were taken off the tunnel work before Easter and were put to work outside to carry materials around. I guess we were too weak do the tunnel work. I was put to work at night. I don't know if all of us worked only at night or if any of the Buchanwald prisoners worked at night. I think that it was the day after Easter that I got severe stomach cramps. I couldn't straighten up. Sergeant Metz began yelling at me but I couldn't understand him. He was angry and according to one of our men who did understand German he said he was going to have me shot.

I was taken into the compound where the prisoners form Buchanwald were. I thought that this was the end and almost didn't care, I was in so much pain. There were other GIs there. We all had to take off all our clothes which at that point didn't make me feel any better. However our clothes were put into a large box-like room within the big room we were in. The clothes were being heated to kill the body lice. I don't think it did much good because nothing was done to get the lice that was on our body. The prisoners in the compound did all of the work with our clothes, putting them in the "box" and then dumping them out in one big hot pile where we had to sort through to find our own. There was a prisoner there who was a doctor. He saw that I was in pain and sent one of the other prisoners to get something for me. He brought back a small bottle with and eyedropper cap. The doctor had him squirt a few drops into my mouth. Within a minute the cramps were gone.(11)

While we waited for our clothes, we talked to the doctor who spoke very good English. He said that the extra ration of soup was more than our stomachs could handle and was dumped into our intestines causing the problem. He said that the best thing to do was to eat only dry toast and stay in bed for a couple of days. I thought the chances of that were dim to nothing. He also said the Americans were getting close and that we were going to be moved. I asked him what was to happen to prisoners in the compound. He replied in a matter of fact voice as though he was talking about the weather, "Oh they will probably shoot us".(12)

Several Americans tried to escape. All were captured and brought back, except one.(13) All were captured and brought back, except one. He had a better chance of making good his escape because as I understood it, he had been born in Germany and had come to the U. S. when he was 18. He was fluent in German and knew his way around.(14) One escapee had been shot before he was brought back. He was left to lay by our barracks for a day. I presume that was done as a deterrent for anyone thinking about escaping.

Most of the days spent at Berga are just a blur of the same thing day after day. Some things have come to mind and stand out in my memory. As we were marched up the hill to our barracks one afternoon we saw older men being drilled to fight. They were not in uniform. They formed a skirmish line and charged an imaginary enemy to fall prone and aim their make believe stick guns.

On one other day we were going through Berga on our way to the hill when the air raid sirens sounded. We pressed up against buildings and doorways to watch a large number of fighter planes escorting a squadron of American bombers. Berga was not the bomb destination and they flew on. The fighter planes circling and crisscrossing left a white cobweb against the blue sky. We saw no German planes.

Another time I was sent out to the turntable to help turn the tram cars from the tunnel. While I was waiting there a German Major stopped to talk to me. He spoke very good English and said he had worked for five years before the war in Philadelphia and wanted to return after the war. I told him I was from Cripple Creek Colorado. He knew where it was and said that he had been there.

The blasting powder or dynamite that they used to blast the rock in the tunnels must not have been very reliable. Sometimes the blast would hardly break an rock. One day when all was ready to blast and the tools and tram car were pulled back out of danger the dynamite was detonated. There was a mighty roar and the tram car came rolling out of the tunnel past us at the side of the portal and trailing a large dust cloud. The fresh air duct into the tunnel was also collapsed. There was quite s spirited discussion among the Germans when the surprise was over.


BERGA DEATH MARCH

On April 5, 1945 we left Berga on the evacuation march. We were give red cross boxes which had to be shared by two men. Charles Carter and I shared one box. I don't remember all the contents but I do remember canned peaches and powdered milk. We mixed some of the milk with peach juice and had "peaches and cream".

Our guards were mostly older men probably World War One veterans. For some the march was about as hard on them as on us. One guard was said to be 90 years old and he lasted only a couple of days. He had a beautiful voice and would sing as we marched along. He was walking beside me and kept bumping me. I looked down and he handed me a crust of bread.

A cart was with us on the march in which the sick and those too weak to walk rode. It was usually pulled by a horse. If no horse was available our men had to pull and push it When a horse pulled it some could hang on to the cart and sort of be pulled along.

We were usually put in a barn at night and could borrow into the hay. One night was spent on the top floor of a gray stone castle. There had bee a moat around it but it was dry and we crossed it on a permanent bridge. That was a very miserable night. The cold wind blew through the openings and the stone floor was hard. Clarence Lahr died that night and was buried the next day.(15)

For food on the march we had the heavy dark bread and each loaf had to be shared by several men. We also had soup and imitation coffee. The soup was in the form of dry bricks and dissolved and heated in water. Sometimes we got potatoes in the soup. One day when I had some boiled potatoes with me on the march and we stopped for a rest, I pulled some green dandelions to mix with cut up potato. (Sort of a potato salad) There was only one stream that we were allowed to drink from. Other streams were polluted.

One of our men farther up the line from me suddenly dashed out of line and down the embankment at the side of the road. He almost got shot but managed to pickup a beehive honey comb that had been lost.

I had my ration of bread stolen from me on day. The G I who had stolen it was seen and reported to our own leader and the next day his ration was given to me. On another occasion when we spent a day resting at a barn, the powdered milk I had left was stolen. I had hidden it in the hay and didn't think anyone saw where I had hidden it. The culprit was easy to find by the powdered milk in his mustache. He had been sleeping close to where Carter and I were. To try to ration the food from our red cross box may not have been such a good idea. Albert G. Berthiaume(16) may have had the right idea. He ate every thing when he got it.

While I was in the hospital in England I tried to remember where we had been and the names of towns from the road signs giving the direction and distances. I noted that on April 8th we stopped in a barn 2 km from Hof. On April 14 we walked 15 km. On April 16th we started from near Selb. April 17th we stopped and stayed in a large barn where four farms had a common corner. We stayed on the 18th and began walking again on the 19th.

We were quartered in the loft of a barn that had been cleaned of hay that had been stored there one time. It was on of the barns of the four farms with the common corner. The Burgomaster of the nearby town came to see us. He saw our condition and found out that we had no salt. One of our men who understood German said the Burgomaster gave a tongue lashing to the German officer in charge the likes of which he had never heard. In about a half an hour we each had a ration of salt and some boiled potatoes that were not half rotten. Those who rode in the sick wagon and perhaps others, about 30, were taken to a hospital in town.

At the end of the day I noticed one of our men put a bucket under the stairs that led up to the barn loft. I believe it was Dowdell.(17) He cautioned me to be quiet and said to join him in the morning. So on the morning of the 19th we got a bucket and went past a guard who I guess thought we were on some detail. We went to the other farms. The farmers in the first barn indicated that they had not finished milking. At the next farm we were each given a cup of what passed for coffee with milk and sugar.(18) It was good and hot. The third stop gave each of us a wedge of fresh bread cut from a round loaf. Then we went back to our barn. We soon started our march again that day.

During the march my shoes which were in bad shape at the beginning gave out. I had to wait until someone died who had better shoes than I.(19) When our leader decided that I was next in line to get shoes, it was a macabre fact of our life that let me know one evening that I would have shoes the next morning. I came face to face with a six foot G I who had that "zombie" look in his eyes, void of expresson which we had first seen in the concentration prisoners at Berga. He was about six foot tall and had no trouble keeping up with the march. I had to put several layers of cardboard from the red cross box into the combat boots because I am only five foot five and one half inches tall.

I have often wondered why someone who seemed as able as any of us to keep going would have that vacant unseeing look at night and be dead the next morning. I wonder if they just gave up. In contrast one man whose name I think was Chick(20) was so weak with diarrhea that he had to craw on his hand and knees to the latrine behind the barracks. He refused to let anyone help him. I think that he felt that having someone help him was to give up. He was on the sick wagon from the time we left Berga until he was included in the 30 who were hospitalized by the Burgomaster. About two months later when I was at Camp Shanks General Hospital, New York, I had a pass to New York City and as I was leaving, a group of GIs were coming in and Chick was among them. I didn't get a chance to talk to him.

We saw many Allied bombers fly high over us during the march. One day as we rested in a barn yard, as the bombers approached we could see the bomb bay doors open and when the planes were over our heads, the bombs began to fall. They fell in a downward trajectory to hit in a city that we could see in the distance. We could see and hear the explosions. One day on the march we were close to the bombers target. Heavy antiaircraft fire knocked one down and only two parachutes were seen.

One day on the march we saw an ambulance coming toward us. It looked like an American ambulance. When it got close enough I could see that it had belonged to the 106th Division. I presume that it had been captured during the Battle of the Bulge.

On the march when a stop was made and there was a need to eliminate bodily waste, you did so without regard as to where you were or who was around. On one break at the edge of a small town there was an open field next to a house. There had been a large stop there before, probably the concentration camp prisoners and one had to watch where you stepped. I found a relatively clear spot and had my trousers half way down when a man came running out of the house waving his arms. Then he gave up, threw up his arms in disgust and went back into the house. I think that it was this town where we paused for a few minutes that people began to hand out some food. I was not fortunate to be near a window or door.

One day we passed some British troops who were also being evacuated. They were resting beside the road. I believe that they said that they were doing most of their walking at night. They were thin but in much better condition. They looked like soldiers and I fear that we looked like a bunch of ragged scarecrows. They had received red cross food boxes often.

There was a universal pastime during the day when we rested at a barnyard and that was to look for body lice. I don't remember much about body lice when we were at Berga. After a day in the tunnel I was too exhausted to care. On the march they must have gotten much more numerous. About the time I would get settled and warm in the hay, the little beasties would come out of the seams of clothing and start marching around. On those rest days everyone would be sitting around with their pants and underwear undone hunting for lice any where there was body hair. There would be little egg sacks sticking to a hair.

On what turned out to be the last day of our march, although I didn't know it at the time, I got too weak to keep up with the column and there was not room in or to hang onto the sick wagon. I lagged way behind. The column got out of my sight down the road. I prayed a few "Hail Marys" and kept going. As I passed a farm area with an open gate in a solid fence some German soldiers there beckoned me to come in. They gave me about a fourth of a loaf of the black bread and I went on my way. The bread was not all dark brown. It had quite a bit of green mold on it. I remembered that a GI at Bad Orb who had been a baker said that bread mold produced penicillin and wouldn't hurt you. When I finally got to the barn with my bread where the rest were quartered, I could not stand up. Carter and I did eat the bread.

A couple of days before the end of our march, I had cause to remember the concentration compound doctor's words, "They will probably shoot us". We had just started walking in the early morning and came down a slope which curved onto a bridge across a small stream. On the other side was a dead concentration camp prisoner and then another. At first we thought a plane had accidentally strafed them. We had a fighter plane dive on us several days before then pulled up. Someone picked up a spent cartridge and said that it was German. For most of the rest of that day at intervals we would come up on prisoners shot in the head and lying beside the road, sometimes on both sides and 50 to 75 feet apart. Sometimes there would be a piece of brain or skull beside the road and a large mass grave in the field. If they couldn't keep up the SS soldiers who guarded them simply shot them in the back of the head. We caught up with the large group and walked by where they were stopped in a field. I saw an SS guard fire up into a tree across the road from the group. He fired two shots, gazed up into the tree and walked away. I assumed that one of the prisoners had crossed the road and tried to hide by climbing the tree.

We were still in the barn that I had managed to reach, resting. Suddenly there was a commotion outside and sergeant Metz and the guards were trying to get us out and on the road. I could not walk and had to crawl. There was a shout that American tanks were coming. Metz and some of the guards took off to try to get away. A few of the guards came back in the barn with us and seemed glad to see the Americans. I don't know what time it was but think it was early afternoon. I did get out of the barn and on my feet and saw American tanks. We were liberated on this the 23rd of April, 1945!!!

I am not sure if I imagined it or saw a little later German soldiers and Metz and his superior Murtz(21) herded into a barb wire enclosure and guarded by American soldiers. We milled around the barn area for a while and then were started down the road. A GI pulled me up into his tank and gave me a candy bar. We went down the road toward a town by the name of Cham. As the tank turned a corner to enter the town it drew some fire from a two story house. We stopped and the tank backed up to put me out. Then it went ahead and fired a round into the house. One round was enough. We noticed a white flag hanging from the second story window when we walked around the bend.

There is a sad note to this liberation. Just as the tanks rolled up one of our men died. According to a letter I wrote to my sister from the hospital in England on May 4, 1945 I told her that we had 48 die from April 5 to April 23 on the march. While in the hospital I tried as best I could to account for the 350 men who went to Berga. Right or wrong I have a notation that 21 died at Berga, about 43 sent to a hospital from Berga, 286 started the march from Berga, 48 died on the walk, 30 were hospitalized on the walk, about 166 liberated and 42 unaccounted for....

Why did I survive this march? It had to be in part remembering my parents, my sister and her husband, the good times we had and the desire to see them again. It had to be that I wanted to see my sister's baby who was to have been born in January. It had to be my Catholic rearing that my parents gave me. When things seemed too hard to bear, I turned to the Blessed Mother and prayed. I promised to pray the rosary every day if I were liberated. It has become a very satisfying habit.

My buddy Charles Carter made it home to his wife and family and I had the privilege of spending a night with them in the summer of 1948 at their home in Cheboygan, Michigan. He died November 22, 1982....

NOTES

1. Actually it was Arbeitskmdo 625 POWs, Berga am Elster, GE.

2. Two things I have not been able to determine; 1. Exact number of Jews, and 2. What was the criteria for the others sent to Berga am Elster.

3. The normal Red Cross food box weighed 4 pounds and was designed to provide the essential foods for one man to survive for one week.

4. Anthony C. Acevedo, 70 Division, 275 Inf, B Company medic, the or one of the medics. He provided me with names of men who died at Berga and a list of many who were sick.

5. John must have meant the German Sergeant Edwin Metz who was Commandant of the American Camp He was later convicted as a war criminal. Afterward our own Army pardoned him.

6. David Young Pvt. GN 26133, died March 12, 1945.

7. Cripple Creek is west of Colorado Springs just west of Pikes Peak.

8. Stealing was rampart throughout the prisons. Even a good friend might steel your possessions to trade for food or cigarettes. Several times I was robbed.

9. In 1945 Easter fell on 1 April.

10. The huge pots that were used for cooking were cemented in place. They were never really clean. When the soup cooled it usually immediately turned sour due to the bacteria constantly present. This could have been part of the reason for so much diarrhea in the stalags.

11. Could this have been paregoric or some other opium product?

12. I have been told that orders had been issued to kill all American POWs.

13. Morton Goldstein GN 23758, C Btry 590 FA, 106 Div was shot allegedly by Sgt.. Erwin Metz 15 March 1945 as he was being returned to Berga. The first American Chief Man of Confidence at Bad Orb Hans Kasten GN 23400, 110 Inf, 28 Div. and his two assistants Joseph F. Littell GN 24931, I Co. 422 Inf, 106 Div and Ernesto Sinner GN 25724 (unit unknown) were captured and sent to Stalag 9C (Punishment and Control Camp IXC) but before they could be executed the Americans arrived.

14. Joseph F. Littell published a book "A Lifetime in Every Moment" that goes into details of their escape and recapture.

15. According to Medic Anthony Acevedo, Berthiaume died on April 8, 1945.

16. Albert G. Berthiaume GN 26129, ASN 31416858, A Company, ? Regiment, 106 Div.

17. Andrew J. Dowdell, GN 27048, ASN 42056545, G Company, 379 Infantry, 100 Division.

18. It must be remembered that Germany did not have access to real coffee and tea since the war began.

19. Most members of the 106th Division received new combat boots in England shortly before entering combat. The leather in these boots had been constantly exposed to sweat and water that greatly shortened their life. Although I did not go to Berga my own boots were worn out and I didn't think they would survive the coming summer.

20. Have not been able to identify him.

21. Capt. Ludwig Merz was responsible for all the work details in the region. He was sentenced to death but the Americans later released him.


Sources: The 70th Infantry Division Association

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