A Righteous Man - The story of M/Sgt. Roddie W. Edmonds
Roddie W. Edmonds was born in 1919 in Knoxville, Tennessee. He enlisted in the army in 1941 and joined the 106th as a cadre member from the 80th Division in 1943. He was the Communications Sergeant of the Regimental Headquarters Company of the 422nd Infantry.
Captured on 19 December 1944 with parts of the Regimental Motor Column near Bleialf, Edmonds was marched to Prüm and Gerolstein, where he and his men were put on boxcars. His boxcar was bombed at Limburg/Diez by the RAF on 23 December 1944. The train carrying the POW’s finally reached Bad Orb, Germany on Christmas Day.
On January 26th, 1945 all non-commissioned officers were moved to Stalag IXA, Ziegenhain. Within days of their arrival, German lagerkommandant Siegmann issued an order to disclose the identity of the Jewish-American POW's. Edmonds, being the senior American NCO, refused to do so. When asked about the Jews among the prisoners, M/Sgt. Edmonds told Siegmann, "We are all Jews". His defiance infuriated the German officer. Siegmann threatened Edmonds with a pistol but finally relented. The actions of Edmonds prevented the segregation and deportation of approximately 200 Jewish-Americans. At Bad Orb, their previous camp, a similar segregation order led to the death of more than 70 GI's, who had been sent to the slave labor camp Berga. Stalag IX-A was liberated April 30th, 1945 by the 6th Armored Division.
Edmonds returned to Tennessee and later served in Korea. Upon conclusion of the Korean conflict he left the military and worked as a manager for the Knoxville Journal before persuing a sales career. He died in 1985 as a result of congestive heart failure.
In February 2015 he was posthumously recognized for his actions at Stalag IX-A as one of the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ by Yad Vashem. During a ceremony on January 27th, 2016 in Washington, D.C. the Righteous Medal and certificate were presented to Pastor Chris Edmonds, Roddie's son. The ceremony was attended by President Barack Obama.
We are all Jews.
The video below shows Ex-POW Sergeant Lester Tanner (Tannenbaum), Regimental Headquarters, 422nd Infantry Regiment, telling the story of M/Sgt. Edmonds' righteous action. (Video courtesy Chris Edmonds/Youtube)
In 2016 the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) produced a documentary about Roddie Edmonds, as told through his son Chris. The documentary was produced by Dean Beals and directed by Paul Allman.
Watch the JFR documentary HERE.
Updated 8 May 2018