Kristallnacht

Eyewitnesses vividly recall that on that day, the Nazi POW camp commandant, Major Siegmann, ordered the Jewish prisoners to identify themselves. The imprisoned soldiers remember the moment Master Sargent Edmonds, the highest-ranking soldier in the U.S. section of the camp, turned to them and whispered: "We're not doing that". Instead, Edmonds instructed his men to stand together with the Jewish soldiers. When the Nazi commandant saw all the camp's inmates standing defiantly in front of their barracks, he turned to Edmonds and bellowed: "These men cannot all be Jews!" Edmonds retorted: "We are all Jews here." Major Siegmann then pointed his pistol at Edmonds and demanded that he identify his Jewish soldiers. Edmonds replied: "If you shoot me, you'll have to shoot us all... We know who you are; and when we win this war, you'll be tried for war crimes." It is estimated that Master Sgt. Edmonds saved the lives of as many as 200 Jewish-American soldiers that day.

Roddie Edmonds never mentioned the incident after the war. But in the years following his death, his son, Pastor Chris Edmonds of Maryville TN, painstakingly pieced it together with the help of his father's diary and the Internet. Ultimately, Pastor Edmonds' research led to the recognition of his father by the state of Israel as a "Righteous Among the Nations". And on January 27, 2016, the exact anniversary of Edmonds' courageous act, Pastor Chris Edmonds received Yad Vashem's highest award on behalf of his father. Interestingly, Roddie Edmonds is the first American serviceman to have received such an honor. Consequently, President Barack Obama visited the Israeli embassy that day to participate in the momentous event.

Guest Speaker: Pastor Chris Edmonds
All Welcome, Open to the Public

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