A U.S. soldier captured during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 has been honored by Israel for standing up to Germans in a prisoner-of-war camp and saving the Jews among his fellow prisoners.
The highest-ranking noncommissioned American officer at the Stalag IXA camp, Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds was ordered by the Germans running the camp to identify the Jews within his ranks. Edmonds refused. Standing before more than 1,000 Jewish and non-Jewish American POWs, Edmonds told their captors, “We are all Jews here!”
Even after Germans put a gun to Edmonds’ head, he refused to comply, telling those running the camp they would have to shoot all the prisoners and that they’d be charged with war crimes after the fighting was over. The Germans backed down.
For his actions, Israel awarded Edmonds, who died in 1985, its Righteous Among The Nations declaration, the country’s highest honor for non-Jews who worked to protect Jews during World War II. Others so honored were Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg, but Edmonds is only the fourth American and first soldier to receive the honor.
“Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds seemed like an ordinary American soldier, but he had an extraordinary sense of responsibility and dedication to his fellow human beings,” Avner Shalev, chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and memorial, told the Associated Press. “The choices and actions of Master Sgt. Edmonds set an example for his fellow American soldiers as they stood united against the barbaric evil of…