“We are All Jews Here!”

Image result for roddie edmonds

Master Sgt Roddie Edmonds – Righteous Among the Nations

In December 2015 I attended a Christian Leaders Seminar at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and Research Center in Jerusalem.  In my class was a pastor from Tennessee named Chris Edmonds,  and little did we know what excitement we would experience over the course of those 8 days at Yad Vashem.

We learned early on that Chris’ dad, Master Sgt Roddie Edmonds, had saved the lives of over 200 Jewish-American soldiers in WW2, and that Yad Vashem was nearing completion of the long process of confirming those facts.  While in class one day, word came that it was official: Master Sgt Roddie Edmonds was posthumously designated by Yad Vashem as “Righteous Among the Nations,” Israel’s highest honor given to non-Jews who risked their own lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

The media circus started that day, as Edmonds became one of only a very few Americans to be so honored by Yad Vashem.  Chris was immediately bombarded by media requests, the honoring ceremony happened on January 27 (Holocaust Remembrance Day) in 2016, Chris was invited to share his dad’s story at AIPAC 2016, and attempts to garner a Congressional Medal of Honor ensued.  Most recently, a movie has been produced about Edmonds’ heroism.  Indeed, it is a very fascinating story.

AISH.com just released the 2-minute version (below) of the story.  Click the links above to hear more of the fascinating story!  (My favorite is the AIPAC 2016 video!)  Enjoy!

92-Year-Old Forger Tells His Story to “60 Minutes” about Saving Jews in WWII

Despite the French government’s collaboration with the Nazis during WWII, many underground resistance groups worked to save the lives of Jews in France.  One such resister was Adolfo Kaminsky who was proficient at forgery.  Through his efforts in creating fake identity documents, it is believed that at least 14,000 Jews survived the holocaust.

60 Minutes reported the story last night and the 13-minute video linked below contains the account.  Praise God for those willing to risk their lives to save the Jews!

How a WWII-era Forger Saved Lives, One Fake Document at at Time

Enjoy!

 

A Special Treat on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Saluting the Courageous

Master Sgt Roddie Edmonds – Righteous Among the Nations

I spent quiet contemplative moments during International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday.  However, in the midst of my day, I took time out to watch the presentation ceremony of Righteous Among the Nations recipients at the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC.  Righteous Among the Nations is the highest honor bestowed by the Israeli government on non-Jews, and honors those who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

This ceremony was especially meaningful to me, as one of the honorees was Master Sgt Roddie Edmonds.  During World War 2, thousands of American forces, including Edmonds, were taken captive by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.  Among those held were about 200 Jewish American soldiers.  At the Stalag 9A POW camp, Jewish prisoners were commanded by German soldiers to report one morning.  As the highest-ranking non-commissioned officer, and sensing imminent danger for his Jewish comrades, Edmonds ordered all 1,000+ American POW’s  (including non-Jews) under his command to report and fall into formation in front of their barracks.

When the German commander arrived and stated, “They can’t all be Jews,” Edmonds responded, “We are all Jews.”  Paul Stern, a Jewish POW stood next to Edmonds as the German commander pulled a gun on Edmonds and threatened to shoot him.  However, Edmonds remained steadfast, stating, “According to the Geneva Convention, we have to give only our name, rank, and serial number.   If you shoot me, you will have to shoot all of us, and after the war you will be tried for war crimes.”

The German commander turned and left the scene, thus saving the lives of the Jewish American POW’s.  According to Edmonds diary, that occurred on January 27, 1945… recognized today as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Wednesday was also Paul Stern’s 92nd birthday.

08 KV and Chris Edmonds-crop

Chris Edmonds and me at Yad Vashem

Granted, this is a touching story, but why was it especially meaningful to me?  Because Master Sgt Roddie Edmonds’ son, Chris, was a classmate of mine when I travelled to Israel a couple months ago for the Christian Leaders Seminar at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and Research Center.  While there, on December 1, Chris was notified of his father’s official designation as Righteous Among the Nations!  We celebrated with Chris and were able to hear Chris share his dad’s story personally.

Wednesday was a very busy day for Chris and his family as they gathered at the Israeli Embassy for the honor ceremony.  Among the distinguished participants were Steven Spielberg and President Obama, who both took the stage following Chris’ remarks.  I sent my congratulations via email and got this humorous response from Chris later that night: “It seems so surreal. I guess I can take warming up the crowd for Steven Spielberg and the Prez off my bucket list!”  He went on to say that President Obama spent some time talking to him and his family, was very moved, and even mentioned to Spielberg that “he thinks there is a movie there!”

Who knows about that.  However, I can say this about Roddie and about Chris: these are true men of God.  Roddie stood up for his faith and his principles, at risk of losing his life.  Chris stood up in a room of dignitaries and gave glory to God for His mercy and grace.  Roddie went home to be with the Lord in 1985, but I am so grateful to have met Chris and to have heard his father’s story personally.

As Christians, it is vital that we “connect” to our Jewish heritage in Christ, and that we stand strong with Israel and the Jewish people.  One way to do that is to tell the stories of the Holocaust.  It is Chris’ desire that his dad’s story is used for God’s glory.  Why not tell someone Master Sgt Edmonds’ story today!

PS: Wednesday’s ceremony was streamed live, but the recording is lengthy.  If interested, you can see it here and pick up the ceremony for Master Sgt Roddie Edmonds at 1:12:45.  For a shorter report on his heroics, below is a 52-second news report:

Remembering 6 Million Jews (Part 3)

If you just stumbled upon this blog, we are in the midst of leading up to the commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day tomorrow.  A couple days ago we put faces to the Holocaust and it is important not to overlooking the people in studying the Holocaust.  If you missed that post, click here to see it.  We also put the Holocaust in context in yesterday’s post.  This is the third in the series.

Today, let’s attempt to answer how we know it was 6 million Jews killed.  What sources of information can you think of?  How about these:

  • Reports of missing family and friends.  Though there is a degree of validity here, it becomes less reliable when we consider that there were entire families and communities that were wiped out.
  • Total Jews pre-1938 to total Jews post-WW2.  Again, some validity.  However, Jews began scattering prior to the beginning of WW2 and there are no sound statistics as to how many Jews were actually in Europe prior to the Nazi’s scheme to kill Jews.  Additionally, Jews were scattered all over the world in 70 AD and there are still Jews discovering their heritage today!
  • Verified records, documents, and live testimony.  This is the most reliable data.  Today, Yad Vashem has confirmed and verified the identities of over 4.5 million, and have pieces of evidence for a million or more to be confirmed and verified.  Of note: there are no dental records, etc, as many of the victim’s bodies were burned.  However, witnesses, surviving Jews, perpetrators, and bystanders provide the bulk of information.  Notably, Nazi recordkeeping was precise and meticulous, due to Hitler and the regime’s intention of systematically killing Jews and recording those deaths so they knew when the job was done.

There are hundreds of thousands of pieces of evidence of all kinds collected at Yad Vashem.  For example, dozens of “reports” to the upper echelon of the Nazi regime record the deaths of Jews in death camps throughout central Europe.  (See example to the left.)

The Holocaust was the result of radical Antisemitism by Nazi Germany, and could not have happened without it.  Unfortunately, we are seeing the same attitudes and actions today that led to the Holocaust in Europe in World War 2.

Tomorrow is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Please join us as we pray specifically for Israel, and for the Lord’s intervention in the Antisemitic attitudes that are growing in America and around the world.

See you tomorrow!