Congressmen say Rabbi Who Saved 200 Jews during World War II Deserves Medal

Roddie Edmonds already has been honored by the Israeli government for an act of bravery credited with saving the lives of more than 200 Jewish Americans during World War II.

Now, he may finally be honored by his own government.

Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker filed legislation Monday to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Edmonds, who was an Army master sergeant from Knoxville. The two Republicans were joined on the legislation by Democrats Tim Kaine of Virginia and Ben Cardin of Maryland.

Edmonds’ defiance against a German Nazi officer targeting Jewish American prisoners of war “is one of the most inspiring stories I know,” Alexander said. “The heroism of this 20-year-old East Tennessee soldier is an example for every one of us.”

Corker said the courage and foresight shown by Edmonds was truly remarkable.

“Even when faced with death himself, Master Sgt. Edmonds and the men under his command stood united to protect their fellow soldiers,” Corker said. “His moral fortitude and humility serve as an example for us all.”

Edmonds’ display of defiance and courage took place in 1945, when he was a prisoner of war. One day, the Germans ordered all Jewish POWs in his camp to report the next morning in front of their barracks. Edmonds, the highest-ranking officer in the camp, ordered all of the camp’s POWs — Jews and non-Jews alike — to stand together.

An estimated 1,000 servicemen assembled in front of their barracks the next morning, Jan. 27, 1945. Upon seeing the mass of prisoners, the German officer in charge said, “They cannot all be Jews.”

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Source: USA Today | Michael Collins