In Stalag Viia

In response to:

'The Incomprehensible Holocaust': An Exchange from the February 1, 1990 issue

To the Editors:

May I add a footnote to Istvan Deak’s statement [” ‘The Incomprehensible Holocaust’: An Exchange,” NYR, February 1] that “German fairness toward Allied prisoners of war was even extended to Jews in British or American uniform: they alone of all the Jews in Nazi captivity had little to worry about.” As a jew and an American prisoner of war in Stalag VIIA at Moosburg, near Munich, where I arrived on December 15, 1944 in transit from a processing camp at Ludwigsburg, I encountered no overt discrimination for several months. However, early in 1945 (I am not certain of the exact date) an order came down from the camp administration segregating all Jewish prisoners and forbidding them to go into Munich on work details with the other prisoners. Whether this was meant as a first step in future measures against Jewish prisoners, we never learned. Fortunately, nothing further came of this order, and after some time, as I recall, we were able to take part, once again, in the regular routine of the camp. I would assume that this abortive attempt at special treatment of Jewish prisoners had its origin in a directive from higher Nazi authority and was not confined to Stalag VIIA. If we “had little to worry about,” it was not, in my opinion, because of “German fairness” but because of Nazi fears, certainly in the lower echelons, at a time when Germany was clearly losing the war, of future punishment as war criminals.

Sidney Thomas
Syracuse, New York