Betrayed

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This is the story of the 168 Allied airmen captured and held at Buchenwald concentration camp, and of the 81 American veterans who returned home only to have the US government deny that they'd ever been there. The denial, based on "alternative facts," had a profound effect on the lives of men who had first been betrayed to the Germans and then betrayed by the government they had suffered to defend. 

Betrayed begins in the tumult of battle in June 1944. It focuses on the wartime and postwar experiences of two men. One of them is my father, Frederic C. Martini, an aerial gunner on a B-17. The other is Wernher von Braun, the Nazi rocket engineer. Fred was one of the Buchenwald airmen, and Buchenwald Concentration Camp was where Wernher von Braun obtained the slave labor needed to build V-2 rockets.

 

When the war ended, Wernher was employed by the US Army, his records buried, and his Nazi past concealed as part of Project Paperclip. Fred, like many other Buchenwald airmen, came home with serious medical problems and acute PTSD. These men were told by the VA that their problems were imaginary because they could not have been at Buchenwald. They were considered to be either lying or delusional. This bizarre injustice continued for almost 40 years, until some of the files related to the Buchenwald airmen and others from Project Paperclip were declassified.

 

Piecing together this story involved reviewing over 160,000 pages of declassified documents. The project took seven years and required the assistance of archivists, curators, translators, and fellow researchers in the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, and New Zealand.

The links in the Table of Contents will take you to notes and additional photographs related to each chapter.