U.S. soldier honored after leading revolt against Nazi prison guard who demanded Jews step forward so they could be killed - CVIEW NEWS

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Wednesday, 2 December 2015

U.S. soldier honored after leading revolt against Nazi prison guard who demanded Jews step forward so they could be killed



Honored: Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds has been named Righteous Among the Nations for saving some 200 Jewish prisoners from the Nazis
Honored: Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds has been named Righteous Among the Nations for saving some 200 Jewish prisoners from the Nazis


A U.S. soldier has been honored for saving around 200 Jewish prisoners of war from being killed by the Nazis.
Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds led a revolt against Nazi instructions to identify Jews under his command after he was taken prisoner in the dying days of the Second World War.
Edmonds was one of around 1,000 soldiers taken to the Stalag IXA camp Ziegenhain, Germany, after the Battle of the Bulge.
Inside the camp, Nazi soldiers tried to sort the Jewish prisoners from everyone else, which would almost certainly end in their death.
But rather than comply, Edmonds ordered his men to refuse their instructions, declaring: 'We are all Jews here'.
In recognition of his bravery, he has been awarded the highest honor by Israel's Holocaust memorial.
Nazi leaders had told the Jewish soldiers to assemble outside their barracks one morning, to be taken to labor camps where they would almost certainly die.
But Edmonds, of Knoxville, Tennessee, ordered the entire contingent of 1,000 U.S. servicemen to join them, saying the Nazis had to kill all of them or none.
Even when threatened at gunpoint, Edmonds didn't budge, and his gambit worked. The Nazi official backed down and around 200 Jewish soldiers stayed in captivity with the others until they were liberated. 
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Revelation: Edmonds's story only came to light in the past few years when two men whom he saved came forward. Pictured is the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, which is dedicated to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jewish people from Nazi oppression
Revelation: Edmonds's story only came to light in the past few years when two men whom he saved came forward. Pictured is the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, which is dedicated to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jewish people from Nazi oppression

Edmonds was added to a roll of honor by Yad Vashem, the Israeli state Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, after his actions came to light.
The story had gone untold until years after his death, when two men who were saved by him spoke out.
The Rev. Chris Edmonds, Sgt Edmonds's son, pieced together his father's story, and how he stayed calm even while risking his life.
He said his father told the Nazi officer: 'If you are going to shoot, you are going to have to shoot all of us because we know who you are and you'll be tried for war crimes when we win this war'.
Paul Stern, a Jewish comrade who was saved, gave evidence of the event to Yad Vashem and said that even 70 years later he can 'still hear the words' of the exchange.
In action: A wartime photograph show Edmonds on the field in the Second World War. He was captured at the Battle of the Bulge and spent 100 days as a prisoner of war
In action: A wartime photograph show Edmonds on the field in the Second World War. He was captured at the Battle of the Bulge and spent 100 days as a prisoner of war
Soldier: Comrades told Yad Vashem how Edmonds saved them. He is pictured (circled) at Camp Atterbury in Indiana 
Soldier: Comrades told Yad Vashem how Edmonds saved them. He is pictured (circled) at Camp Atterbury in Indiana 
Lester Tanner, another soldier under his command, said: 'There was no question in my mind, or that of Master Sergeant Edmonds, that the Germans were removing the Jewish prisoners from the general prisoner population at great risk to their survival.
'The U.S. Army’s standing command to its ranking officers in POW camps is that you resist the enemy and care for the safety of your men to the greatest extent possible.
'Master Sergeant Edmonds, at the risk of his immediate death, defied the Germans with the unexpected consequences that the Jewish prisoners were saved.'
Edmonds who posthumously named Righteous Among the Nations, Yad Vashem's term for non-Jews who helped save Jewish people from death in the Holocaust.
Recognition: Edmonds, pictured right with his older brother Robert, was honored posthumously after his heroics came to light
Recognition: Edmonds, pictured right with his older brother Robert, was honored posthumously after his heroics came to light
His name will be engraved on a wall at the museum in Jerusalem and his family will be given a commemorative medallion.
About six million European Jews were killed by German Nazis and their collaborators in the Second World War.
The names of those honored for risking their lives to protect Jews are engraved along an avenue of trees at the Jerusalem memorial.
Around 26,000 have been designated Righteous Among the Nations, the most famous being Oskar Schindler, whose efforts to save more than 1,000 Jews inspired the film Schindler's List.
Avner Shalev, chairman, of Yad Vashem, said: '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.
'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 the Nazis.'
Rev. Chris Edmonds, a Baptist pastor, pieced together his father's history after seeing his heroism mentioned off-hand in an old newspaper article.
He said: 'All he had to fight with was his willpower and his wits. I'm just glad he did the right thing.'
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