Soldiers & Slaves
Roger Cohen
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Buy *Soldiers and Slaves: American POWs Trapped by the Nazis' Final Gamble* online

Soldiers & Slaves: A Personal Journey Through India, Pakistan, Love, and Hate
Roger Cohen
Knopf
Hardcover
320 pages
April 2005
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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There are those history buffs out there who have a vast knowledge and a photogenic memory. They can spill out specific dates, places and gobs of information at the tip of a hat. Iím not one of them. Of course Iíve heard of the Battle of the Bulge, but I wasnít familiar at all with the fate of these soldiers taken by the Nazi regime.

Roger Cohen, who also wrote Hearts Grown Brutal: Sagas Of Sarajevo and co-wrote In The Eye Of The Storm: The Life Of General Norman Schwarzkopf now brings us Soldiers And Slaves. This is the story of 350 American POWs who were captured early in the Battle of the Bulge and transported in cattle cars to Berga, a concentration camp in East Germany. Within the first few pages you get the sense of despair as we read from Edward Gorinacís (a soldier who died quickly at the death camp) journal. At first, his entries are longer descriptive passages of the horror that surrounded him; the beatings, the brutal labor in the mines. But by the end he was too weak to write much more than a few sentences:

ďMarch 10: Rogers died today. We are getting skinnier everyday.

March 13: Fred from Lansing died today. I was moved to Barracks No. 2. The infection is getting worse.

March 14: Nothing new. Still working on 2 to 10:45 shift. We were cut on our bread. Now its five men to a loaf instead of four.

March 16: I have an awful soar throat. Tried to stay from work but was driven out.

March 17: Another man died today which makes three.

March 18: I was sent to Barracks six, which is used as a hospital with my sore throat (strep).

March 19: Still in Barracks six. Throat is sore as hell. Another man was brought in this morning. He died an hour later. Making it four.Ē
That was his last entry. American medics would take Gorinac to a hospital attached to Stalag IX-C, a prisoner of war camp. On the trip there he died. But there would be much more death in this story. Starved and denied their rights, the soldiers were put to work as slave labor in underground mines that were planned to be used as a synthetic fuel factory. Bad went to worse when they were forced into a death march near the Czech Border, where seventy of them died.

Overall, this is a breathtaking and stunning account of the atrocities that befell these POWs.



© 2005 by Bobby Blades for curledup.com.

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