Reunion, of sorts

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Washington Jewish Week

April 22, 2010 | Kredo, Adam

Morton Brooks was twice a victim of World War II: first as a prisoner of war, and then as a concentration camp inmate.

It’s an unusual fate that befell about 350 American soldiers who were captured by the Germans and then interned at Berga, a satellite slave labor camp linked to Buchenwald.

Brooks’ transformation from soldier to survivor shocked Larry Rosen, a veteran who fought in the same Army division but hadn’t learned of soldiersurvivors until a few years ago when he was scanning books at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“Nobody knows that American prisoners of war ever become survivors,” Rosen, 86, a Rockville resident, said in an interview Monday.

After reading about the harsh treatment Brooks suffered at the hands of his Nazi captors, Rosen said he began e-mailing and calling the 84-year-old Boynton Beach, FIa., resident to learn more.

“Larry came across my . name in a book about the 42nd [Infantry Rainbow] Division,” Brooks recalled. “He become interested and contacted me and we’ve been communicating since.”

Last week, the two veterans met for the first time at the District’s Mandarin Hotel, which housed out-of-town liberators during the USHMM’s Days of Remembrance events.

Aside from last Thursday’s Capitol Rotunda event, liberators participated in several other events, including a tour of the museum the previous day. Brooks also participated in a panel discussion last Thursday morning, before the Capitol ceremony, in which he recalled his experience alongside a Japanese American and African American, who each recalled his own tribulations during World War II.

“We got to see what each of us looked like,” Brooks laughed, explaining that if it weren’t for Rosen, he wouldn’t have heard about the museum’s remembrance events. “I guess we will continue to be in touch.” – Adam Kredo

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