Standing Up For Principle When it Could Cost You Your Life

I don’t know if I could do what Roddie Edmonds did. I hope so, but I don’t think any of us can be sure until we are in the clinch. Roddie Edmonds was in the clinch, and he measured up.

The native of Knoxville, Tenn., was captured in the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944 and held at German POW camp Staleg IXA, according to Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. When the Nazis ordered all Jewish-American POWs to step forward on Jan. 27, 1945, Edmonds — the highest-ranking noncommissioned officer at the camp — ordered 1,000 U.S. soldiers to do so, regardless of their religion, per the AP. “They cannot all be Jews,” a German commander said, per Yad Vashem.

“We are all Jews here,” Edmonds replied, adding soldiers didn’t need to divulge their religion under the Geneva Conventions. The commander then put a gun to Edmonds’s head.

He said, “‘I’ll give you one more chance. Have the Jewish men step forward or I will shoot you on the spot.'” [Edmonds paused] and said, ‘If you shoot, you’ll have to shoot us all.'”

The Nazi commander did not shoot, and many American Jews survived. Edmonds deserves every medal they give him.

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