They didn’t expect to find themselves POWs in German Stalag IX-A. They had fought their way through the freezing Ardennes Forest over that Christmas of 1944, but ultimately were captured by the Nazis. And so on that fateful morning, a U.S. Army Master Sergeant and a thousand of his men stood at attention before the camp commander. He was ordered to identify the Jewish soldiers among his troops, and he had no doubt of their fates if he did so. “We are all Jews here,” he replied. The commander furiously pointed his pistol at the sergeant. “They cannot all be Jews!” Even in the face of death, he did not waver. “WE ARE ALL JEWS,” he repeated. “According to the Geneva Convention, we have to give only our name, rank, and serial number. If you shoot me, you’ll have to shoot all of us and after the war, you’ll be tried for war crimes.” Four months later, when the camp was liberated, the 200 Jewish men under the Sergeant’s command walked out of Stalag IX-A with their comrades.
He died in 1985, never having told of his heroism on that freezing day forty years before. After his death, his children began reading his wartime diary and unearthed the story of their father’s incredible bravery. Twenty-six thousand people have been honored as Righteous Among the Nations for their heroic efforts to save Jewish lives during the Holocaust. Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds is the lone U.S. serviceman so honored.