World War II POWs remember sacrifice, service on Veterans Day

They didn't know each other in December of 1944, but Morton Brooks and Edward Slotkin shared an experience they'll never forget.

 

"Sometimes I look in the mirror, and I say, 'Are you still here?'" laughed Brooks, who counts himself as 'very lucky' for being alive today. 

 

Brooks and Slotkin became two of more than 23,500 Americans captured in the Battle of the Bulge, Germany's last hope of defeating the allies in Europe.

 

"We became prisoners of war," said Brooks. 

 

The German Army segregated the men because they're Jewish. When the Jews were called out, Slotkin was somehow left out. A comrade urged him to keep quiet.

 

"He said, 'Stay with us. We'll take care of you.' I said, 'No,'" Slotkin recalls, fighting back tears. 

 

The Germans took the men to Buchenwald Concentration Camp. For 10 hours a day, they mined an underground factory without food or water. Brooks says they were subsisting on 400 calories a day.

 

"They told me I weighed 75 pounds," said Slotkin.

 

The Germans ordered a death march. For three weeks straight, they marched.

 

"We passed, for two days, political prisoners who were shot through the back of the head, lining the road on either side. And I thought that that was going to be our end. And I said to a buddy of mine, 'Let's get out of here,'" said Brooks.

 

The pair escaped through the woods one night and met a German farmer, who connected them with the Army.

 

Brooks and Slotkin forged themselves into the Greatest Generation, exhibiting strength and courage amidst the unimaginable. 

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum will honor Brook and Slotkin in a special ceremony December 9th.

 

http://neveragain.ushmm.org/

 

 

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