“We’re All Jews Here” (The Ballad of M/Sgt. Roddie Edmonds)


Prison Camp in Germany.

Nearly 1300 GI NCOs captured during the Battle of the Bulge.

Almost 300 Jewish prisoners had been advised to discard their dog tags prior to capture or face near certain death at the hands of their captors.

M/Sgt. Roddie Edmonds of Eastern Tennessee, a devout Christian and barely older than than the youngest of the men, was the ranking noncom and in command. Throughout the capture and transport of the men, he had distinguished himself by his leadership. He worked tirelessly to make life bearable for his men who face starvation rations and freezing temperatures.

An order came down from the Commandant that only the Jewish prisoners show up for next morning’s roll-call. Every man understood that these men would be marched off to their certain executions.

Instead, Edmonds ordered all the men out that morning. He informed the Commandant that under the Geneva Convention, all that was required of each prisoner was his name, rank, and serial number. The Commandant demanded he identify the Jewish soldiers. To emphasize the point, he pulled his pistol and aimed at Edmonds’s head. Edmonds response was “We’re all Jews here!”

If you kill me,” Edmonds said,”You will have to kill us all. The war will soon be over and you will be called to account for any war crimes you commit.” The Commandant holstered his weapon and walked away.

A few months later the war, indeed, was over.

Edmonds never spoke of his war experience. His son, Rev. Chris Edmonds, came upon some of his father’s diaries which made some mention of the prison camp. His curiosity piqued, he set about locating and interviewing the surviving veterans who documented the details. He published the story in “No Surrender: A Father, A Son, and an Extraordinary Act of Heroism That Continues to Live on Today.” (Harper One, 2019)

( From Wikipedia)

Posted February 27, 2023 by garykanter

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