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Download Soldiers and Slaves: American POWs Trapped by the Nazis' Final Gamble Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Soldiers and Slaves: American POWs Trapped by the Nazis Final Gamble Audiobook, by Roger Cohen Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (50 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Roger Cohen Narrator: Michael Prichard Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2005 ISBN: 9781415925584
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In February 1945, 350 American POWs captured earlier at the Battle of the Bulge or elsewhere in Europe were singled out by the Nazis because they were Jews or were thought to resemble Jews. They were transported in cattle cars to Berga, a concentration camp in eastern Germany, and put to work as slave laborers, mining tunnels for a planned underground synthetic-fuel factory. This was the only incident of its kind during World War II.

Starved and brutalized, the GIs were denied their rights as prisoners of war, their ordeal culminating in a death march that was halted by liberation near the Czech border. Twenty percent of these soldiers—more than seventy of them—perished. After the war, Berga was virtually forgotten, partly because it fell under Soviet domination and partly because America’s Cold War priorities quickly changed, and the experiences of these Americans were buried.

Now, for the first time, their story is told in all its blistering detail. This is the story of hell in a small place over a period of nine weeks, at a time when Hitler’s Reich was crumbling but its killing machine still churned. It is a tale of madness and heroism, and of the failure to deliver justice for what the Nazis did to these Americans.

Among those involved: William Shapiro, a young medic from the Bronx, hardened in Normandy battles but, as a prisoner, unable to help the Nazis’ wasted slaves, whose bodies became as insubstantial as ghosts; Hans Kasten, a defiant German-American who enraged his Nazi captors by demanding, in vain, that his fellow U.S. prisoners be treated with humanity, thus committing the unpardonable sin of betraying his German roots; Morton Goldstein, a garrulous GI from New Jersey, shot dead by the Nazi in charge of the American prisoners in an incident that would spark intense debate at a postwar trial; and Mordecai Hauer, the orphaned Hungarian Jew who, after surviving Auschwitz, stumbled on the GIs in the midst of the Holocaust at Berga and despaired at the sight of liberators becoming slaves.

Roger Cohen uncovers exactly why the U.S. government did not aggressively prosecute the commandants of Berga, why there was no particular recognition for the POWs and their harsh treatment in the postwar years, and why it took decades for them to receive proper compensation.

Soldiers and Slaves is an intimate, intensely dramatic story of war and of a largely forgotten chapter of the Holocaust.

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Quotes & Awards

  • In this extraordinary book Roger Cohen has brought to light a long-concealed story of Nazi savagery. It brought me to tears–and understanding. Anthony Lewis
  • This story of American POWs at Berga–their suffering, their pain, their hope, their memories–has surprisingly been forgotten or inadequately recalled by historians. Roger Cohen is to be thanked for revealing to the public its profound human drama with talent, sensitivity, and a commitment to truth. Elie Wiesel
  • Before reading Soldiers and Slaves, I had never heard of concentration camp Berga, ‘an ephemeral little hell’ within the larger hell of World War II. But I know it now and won’t ever forget it, thanks to Roger Cohen’s masterful account, wonderfully reported and written. Ward Just
  • Roger Cohen, who has already written one profoundly moving book on the Bosnian war and provides some of the best American journalism about Europe, understands that huge tragedies are constituted by microhistories of suffering. In Soldiers and Slaves he follows the fate of Jewish American soldiers, captured in the Battle of the Bulge and thrown into the vortex of the crumbling Third Reich as brutalized slave laborers and death-march victims alongside the remnants of surviving Central European Jewery. This is a beautifully crafted narrative of cruelty, heroism, dismaying postwar indifference, and finally, at last, memory redeemed. Charles Maier, Saltonstall Professor of History, Harvard University
  • Roger Cohen has brought us a jewel of a book–a chilling, deeply felt, and powerfully written account of an astonishing episode at the climax of World War II that speaks volumes about human nature, justice, and memory. Michael Beschloss

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert Colquhoun | 10/2/2013

    " An interesting piece of relatively unknown WWII history. Yet another example of just how brutal and disgusting the Nazi Solution truly was. Definitely worth the read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeffrey | 6/17/2013

    " Story of American pows put into forced labor and forced to work in a concentration camp. A good read. Historically educational. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Victoria | 4/24/2013

    " As i read this book, it made me cry. The horror of the Holocaust is overwhelming. I keep thinking how can people be this cruel? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matty | 10/18/2012

    " Very interesting. Fascinating due to content of rare info of the small amount of American POWs in Nazi concentration camps. German American; Americans of many religious creeds. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenny J | 10/11/2012

    " A devastating account of a little-known concentration/work camp in Germany where 350 American soldiers were sent in February 1945. My heart goes out to the veterans who live every day with memories of this terrible time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenny | 10/20/2011

    " What can I say? I read a lot of WWII history materials. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 5/11/2011

    " Excellent and readable history of a little known atrocity that took place in WW2. Before this book I knew nothing of it. Good read, highly recommened. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cheryl | 4/21/2011

    " This was about a little known Nazi camp that used American Jewish POW's as slave labor and the aftermath "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert | 6/16/2010

    " An interesting piece of relatively unknown WWII history. Yet another example of just how brutal and disgusting the Nazi Solution truly was. Definitely worth the read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matty | 5/7/2010

    " Very interesting. Fascinating due to content of rare info of the small amount of American POWs in Nazi concentration camps. German American; Americans of many religious creeds. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenny | 4/12/2009

    " A devastating account of a little-known concentration/work camp in Germany where 350 American soldiers were sent in February 1945. My heart goes out to the veterans who live every day with memories of this terrible time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cheryl | 10/24/2008

    " This was about a little known Nazi camp that used American Jewish POW's as slave labor and the aftermath "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenny | 9/15/2007

    " What can I say? I read a lot of WWII history materials. "

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About the Author
Roger Cohen writes on foreign affairs for The New York Times, where he has worked since 1990, primarily as Paris correspondent, bureau chief in the Balkans and Berlin, and foreign editor. He also writes a twice-weekly column for the International Herald Tribune. His book on Bosnia, Hearts Grown Brutal, based on his prizewinning coverage of the war there, was cited for its excellence by the Overseas Press Club. He lives with his wife, Frida, and their two children in Brooklyn, New York.
About the Narrator

Michael Prichard is a Los Angeles-based actor who has played several thousand characters during his career, over one hundred of them in theater and film. He is primarily heard as an audiobook narrator, having recorded well over five hundred full-length books. His numerous awards and accolades include an Audie Award for Tears in the Darkness by Michael Norman and Elizabeth M. Norman and six AudioFile Earphones Awards. He was named a Top Ten Golden Voice by SmartMoney magazine. He holds an MFA in theater from the University of Southern California.