From the Back Cover
On May 3, 1945, the Royal Air Force attacked a fleet of ships carrying more than seven thousand survivors of the Neuengamme concentration camp. The war was nearly over, and the survivors had endured one of history’s most hellish ordeals, only to die at the hands of their allies.
The bodies, in the striped white-and-black uniforms of camp prisoners, were soon washing ashore on the beach by the town of Timmendorf, near the Baltic port of Neustadt. Benjamin Jacobs, then twenty-five, survived by escaping the hold and clinging to wreckage. He was one of only 350 survivors, and one of the last of those. Days before, Jacobs had boarded the Cap Arcona, along with thousands of other prisoners. A commandeered luxury liner, the Cap Arcona was a dilapidated wreck. Nearby, the freighter Thielbek, in similar condition, was also attacked.
There is reason to believe the Germans were intending to sink the Cap Arcona themselves. Though they claimed the prisoners were headed to Sweden, the ships may have been nonfunctional. The Royal Air Force believed the ships contained escaping SS officers. Tragically, British intelligence may have known who was on the ships, which may explain why the RAF has sealed the records until 2045.
In The 100-Year Secret Benjamin Jacobs collaborates with writer Eugene Pool to describe his miraculous escape from a burning transport ship that was once one of the most glamorous ocean liners of the early twentieth century, and investigates why the incident, which will have its 60th anniversary in May, 2005, appears in no history books. The governments of Germany and Great Britain continue to refuse either to discuss it or to release pertinent records,
The 100-Year Secret is the first complete account in English of this horrific and suppressed tragedy. It is also the first book-length description by an actual survivor. Furthermore, it contains new information about the incident, its participants, and its perpetrators not found in previous accounts. It is both the riveting personal story of a man who refused to give up, no matter what the circumstances, and an important revision of both Jewish and world history.