Maurizio – Omnologos

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New Details About Charles Morabito

with 8 comments

A few step forward in my search for details about Charles Morabito, PoW 25084 at the Berga slave camp in Nazi Germany. Charles was very unfortunate, part of what might have been the very last group of American prisoners of war tortured/neglected and ultimately killed by the Nazis. As reported by the PBS, he was one of the few American victims of “Vernichtung durch Arbeit — the Nazi policy of physical destruction through labor“.

As of now, I believe Charles Morabito was killed while trying to escape, sometimes in March 1945.

=====================

(1) I have now found this article in the New York Times: “CAPTIVE U.S. TROOPS BEATEN WITH PICKS; Survivor of German Camp Tells How He Put In Long Hours as Slave Laborer” from June 13, 1945. It contains the results of an interview with 20-year-old Daniel D .Steckler, survivor of Berga. He speaks of slave labor under appalling conditions, and of a total of around 350 dead between Feb 28 and Apr 18, 1945.

The article says the Americans had belonged to the 28th Division, fighting in Luxembourg.

(2) There is a Wikipedia entry for the U.S. 28th Infantry Division, but no mention of Berga in the World War II section. Also, that entry includes the 109th, 110th, 111th, and 112th Infantry Regiments for the 28th Division, whilst other sources indicate the 106th Regiment.

(3) Via the Jewish Virtual Library one can find the following 1994 book: “Forgotten Victims: Abandonment of Americans in Hitler’s Camps” by Mitchell G. Bard (Author). Interestingly, the Amazon UK site brings up next to that book, a work by Flint Whitlock entitled “Given Up for Dead: American GI’s in the Nazi Concentration Camp at Berga“.

I will try to source both books at my local library.

(4) Whitlock’s book is described with these words, providing more about the background of the whole Berga camp story:

This is the extraordinary and little-known story of American GIs taken prisoners at the Battle of the Bulge and forced into unspeakable slavery in the Nazi concentration camp at Berga. When thousands of American soldiers were captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, most were marched off to prisoner-of-war camps where they were relatively well-treated. A few hundred others, mainly Jewish, were marched off to the Nazi slave-labor camp at Berga-an-der-Elster, where many met an unspeakable fate. This is their story. For over three months, the soldiers worked under brutal, inhuman conditions, building tunnels in a mountainside for the German munitions industry. Many of them died. The others struggled to survive in a living nightmare. Strangely, when the war was over, many of the Americans who had survived Berga were required to sign a ‘security certificate’ which forbade them from ever disclosing the details of their imprisonment at Berga. Until recent years, what had happened to the American soldiers at Berga has been a closely guarded secret.

(5) Via “Look Inside“, it is possible to find references to “Morabido, Charles” for pages 156-159 (it is a misspelling…check out “Morabito” as written on Charles’ tomb’s cross; and his name in the prisoners’ list):

1. on Page 159:
” … escape was tied to Morabido’s “plundering” at the farm, and he explained the predicament to Bokanic. A German noncom “badgered Bokanic about knowing and escaping with Morabido”
2. on Page 158:
” … Bokanic dashed from the storeroom, out the gate, and ran for cover to wait for Morabido. Five minutes passed and then a shot rang out from the direction … ”
3. on Page 157:
“asked Bokanic where Morabido was and he said that Morabido went to milk a cow. Believe it! Soon, we heard the noise of cows mooing, then … ”
4. on Page 156:
” … known of the plan and, once Mark was at work in the tunnel, two GIs, Charles Morabido and another whose last name was Bokanic, approached him and said they … ”
5. from Index:
“xv, 25, 28 Morabido, Charles: 156-159 Moselle River, France: 68 Munk, Honzo: 140,176-177,179-180 Nabburg, Germany : 189 Nachtmandersheid, Luxembourg: 41 … “

(6) Those pages speak of an escape attempt, and Charles is described by fellow prisoner Joe Mark as a “devil-may-care soldier“, together with his friend ??? Bokanic, very much interested in having finally something to eat. For some reason he decided to milk a cow at a nearby farmhouse. At page 158 the book says Charles might have been shot by the farmer.

It was March 1945.

(7) It is very unfortunate that none of the four original documents displayed in the PBS site about Berga contains the entry about Charles Morabito. There is plenty of information in that site though. For now I have extracted the following map:

To Berga

Written by omnologos

2009/Sep/09 at 23:54:50

Posted in Family, Morabito

Tagged with , ,

8 Responses

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  1. Read several personal diaries and experiences of American POW’s held at Berga and many other German prisoner of war camps. Men from the 28th, 83rd and 106th Infantry Divisions are represented.

    http://www.IndianaMilitary.org “German PW Camps” section.

    This is reported to be the largest private website in Indiana at more than 32 Gigabytes of unaltered history.

    Jim West

    2009/Sep/10 at 11:05:20

  2. http://www.lonesentry.com/badorb/list/prisoners.html

    35050065 MORABITO CHARLES J J A ET: G 5

    omnologos

    2010/Nov/27 at 22:48:20

  3. http://aad.archives.gov/aad/display-partial-records.jsp?f=3475&mtch=107&q=morabito&cat=all&dt=893&tf=F&rpp=50&pg=2&rpp=50

    35050065 MORABITO#CHARLES#J###### OHIO CUYAHOGA CP PERRY LACARNE OHIO 43 Civil Life 24

    http://aad.archives.gov/aad/record-detail.jsp?dt=893&mtch=107&cat=all&tf=F&q=morabito&bc=&rpp=50&pg=2&rid=5416572&rlst=3924167,4055708,4095569,4144787,4239756,4261279,4952245,5416572,5638589,5797475

    Field Title Value Meaning
    ARMY SERIAL NUMBER 35050065 35050065
    NAME MORABITO#CHARLES#J###### MORABITO#CHARLES#J######
    RESIDENCE: STATE 53 OHIO
    RESIDENCE: COUNTY 035 CUYAHOGA
    PLACE OF ENLISTMENT 5316 CP PERRY LACARNE OHIO
    DATE OF ENLISTMENT DAY 03 03
    DATE OF ENLISTMENT MONTH 03 03
    DATE OF ENLISTMENT YEAR 43 43
    GRADE: ALPHA DESIGNATION PVT# Private
    GRADE: CODE 8 Private
    BRANCH: ALPHA DESIGNATION NO# No branch assignment
    BRANCH: CODE 02 No branch assignment
    FIELD USE AS DESIRED # #
    TERM OF ENLISTMENT 5 Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
    LONGEVITY ### ###
    SOURCE OF ARMY PERSONNEL 0 Civil Life
    NATIVITY 53 OHIO
    YEAR OF BIRTH 24 24
    RACE AND CITIZENSHIP 1 White, citizen
    EDUCATION 1 1 year of high school
    CIVILIAN OCCUPATION 736 Semiskilled chauffeurs and drivers, bus, taxi, truck, and tractor
    MARITAL STATUS 6 Single, without dependents
    COMPONENT OF THE ARMY 7 Selectees (Enlisted Men)
    CARD NUMBER # #
    BOX NUMBER 0887 0887
    FILM REEL NUMBER 3.309 3.309

    omnologos

    2010/Nov/27 at 22:57:17

  4. here he is

    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=27333367

    Birth: unknown
    Death: Mar. 15, 1945, Germany

    Name: Morabito, Pfc. Charles J.
    Date: Dec 14 1948
    Source: Source unknown; Cleveland Necrology File, Reel #058.
    Notes: Morabito, Pfc. Charles J., killed in Germany as prisoner of war March 15, 1945; residence, 9022 Kinsman Rd.; beloved son of Sam and Mamie Morabito, brother of Frank, Anthony and Frances. Friends received at P. Coreno Funeral Home, 10514 Kinsman Rd. Funeral Wednesday, St. Anthony-St. Bridget Church at 10 a. m. Military service.

    Burial:
    Calvary Cemetery
    Cleveland
    Cuyahoga County
    Ohio, USA

    Edit Virtual Cemetery info [?]

    Created by: TJ
    Record added: Jun 04, 2008
    Find A Grave Memorial# 27333367

    omnologos

    2010/Nov/27 at 23:06:44

  5. […] more than four years of research, I have finally found the resting place of Charles J Morabito (1919-1945), killed during an escape […]

  6. I hope my site helped you in your successful search. Did you find what military unit he was in ? I don’t see that in any of the details.

    Thanks for helping find our Nation’s Heroes.

    Jim West

    Jim west

    2010/Nov/28 at 12:26:54

    • hello Jim. In this kind of research, every minute detail is always important.

      Next challenge is to find the military unit, and a photograph!

      omnologos

      2010/Nov/30 at 01:15:19


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