Ex-POWs battle memory of labor camp

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It took decades before [Myron] Swack, 83, of Independence, told his wife and family about months spent at a slave labor camp called Berga an der Elster — a story that involved 350 American soldiers, but which received only limited attention until recently.

Many of the Americans ended up at Berga either because they were Jewish or because the Germans thought they were. They lived on small bits of bread and thin turnip soup, working in mine shafts where rock dust ripped their lungs. They say they saw friends beaten or worked to death.

The Army has been honoring the 22 living Berga survivors this month after their story received some national attention last year. Some attended a ceremony in Florida while others, such as Swack, have been honored by nearby military bases. Picatinny Arsenal officials presented Swack with a Bronze Star at his home last week.

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