Son tells fathers story of courage at Holocaust service

 

Son tells father’s story of courage at Holocaust service

January 30, 2017

Son tells father’s story of courage at Holocaust service

Jimmy Sailors
Jan 28, 2017

Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds was taken prisoner by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

In January 1945, when he heard the Germans announce that all Jewish prisoners of war in Stalag IXA were to report the following morning, he issued an order.

Edmonds, the highest ranking soldier in the American section of the camp, ordered all of his more than 1,000 men – Jews and non-Jews alike – to report that morning.

When the camp commander saw that all the prisoners were standing in front of their barracks, he turned to Edmonds and said “They cannot all be Jews!” Edmonds replied, “We are all Jews.”

Edmonds was threatened at gunpoint but did not waver.

“According to the Geneva Convention, we only have to give our name, rank and serial number,” Edmonds told the German officer. “If you shoot me, you will have to shoot all of us, and after the war you will be tried for war crimes.”

The German commander backed down and around 200 Jewish soldiers stayed in captivity with the others until they were liberated shortly afterward.

Edmonds’ son Chris, the pastor at Piney Grove Baptist Church in Maryville, Tenn., said he found out about his father’s courageous act in 2009 while searching his father’s name on the Internet.

He found an article from the New York Times written in 2008 about former President Nixon’s search for a home in New York in the late 1970s, several years after he announced his resignation.

It mentioned Lester Tanner, one of the prisoners held at the Ziegenhain stalag who told the story of Edmonds defying the camp commander.

Because of his actions, Edmonds’ father was the first American serviceman to be recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.

When Edmonds was recognized posthumously in late 2015, more than 26,000 individuals and only four other Americans had received the title that recognizes non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Edmonds shared his father’s story as guest speaker at the Holocaust Remembrance Day service at Temple Emanu-El in Dothan Saturday night. He is scheduled to speak at Trinity Baptist Church in Headland at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Edmonds said his father entered the service at age 21 and became a master sergeant in a little over a year.

Original Dothan Eagle story can be found here: http://www.dothaneagle.com/news/local/son-tells-father-s-story-of-courage-at-holocaust-service/article_ebc51c02-e5bc-11e6-8815-3bb28756cc3c.html


 

>> View the news archive