Six months after D-Day, Americans launched a campaign to capture the Roer River dams, vital to their advance into Germany. The Battle of the Hurtgen Forest, a little-known but brutal conflict resulted in 24,000 Americans killed, wounded and captured. In addition, an estimated 9,000 men suffered from trench foot, respiratory problems and combat fatigue, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Victor Norber, a tank gunner and commander with the U.S. 5th Armored Division, recounts the terrifying moments during the December 1944 battle in Bergstein, a “Burning Hell” to him and his combat brothers. His journey not only takes him to Bergstein but to Camp Cooke in California, to hospitals in Europe and the United States and to his home in St. Louis. Norber’s emotional odyssey continues after his near fatal encounters with Nazi forces. He chronicles the crude treatments he endured at the hands of military psychiatrists. “Thank God the treatment of battle fatigue veterans is vastly improved. It’s no longer a stigma. Psychiatrists no longer applaud generals who slap battle fatigue cases.” Through unforeseen events, Norber makes surprising and poignant connections with family members of fallen comrades with personal meetings and thoughtful letters. As a part of the Greatest Generation, Norber reveals his personal experiences during a time in history that should always be remembered.
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