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Berga: Soldiers of Another War
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BERGA: SOLDIERS OF ANOTHER WAR makes use of an old literary device, the Journey, to tell the story of one group of American POWs' encounter with the Holocaust. Like Dante's descent into Hell, Mark Twain's journey into the heart of the slave-holding South, or Jerzy Kosinski's passage through the blasted landscape of wartime Europe, these literary journeys allow us to witness the world through new eyes. The journey into hell, they suggest, is also a journey of discovery, a journey into knowledge. The American POWs in BERGA: SOLDIERS OF ANOTHER WAR begin their journey believing that "A GI was a GI." Their experience at Berga brings them to the realization that "... we're all Jews over here." As Charles Guggenheim states in his documentary:

Before the story of these men was known, Americans believed that such a thing could have happened not to Americans but only to people of a different kind, of a different place. But it did.

BERGA: SOLDIERS OF ANOTHER WAR, records a continuity of behavior that includes "non-violent" acts of discrimination -- stereotyping and physical segregation -- as well as violent acts of abuse, murder and genocide. In doing so, BERGA: SOLDIERS OF ANOTHER WAR ably documents social psychologist Gordon W. Allport's Five Levels of Prejudice:
    1) stereotyping and name-calling
    2) segregation
    3) legal discrimination
    4) physical attack
    5) extermination
For example, upon arriving at Stalag IX-B the Jewish prisoners are segregated from the main group of prisoners and assigned to a separate barracks, which may have struck a familiar chord to soldiers of an American army segregated by race. Yet by the end of the documentary, when similar acts of discrimination occur (for example, the refusal to allow the Jewish American dead to be buried with their Christian comrades in a German graveyard) we are better able to understand the way in which these "non-violent" episodes of discrimination legitimated and laid the groundwork for the atrocities of Berga and the Death March that follows the evacuation of the camp.






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