Pastor Chris Edmonds, son of the late World War II hero Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds — the only U.S. soldier recognized as “Righteous Among the Gentiles” by Israel’s Yad Vashem — will deliver the 10th Annual Sacks-Wilner Memorial Lecture at Adath Israel Congregation, Lawrenceville, on Sunday, March 5, at 7 p.m.
The lecture by Edmonds, spiritual leader of Piney Grove Baptist Church, Maryville, Tenn., is presented as part of the Annual Sacks-Wilner Holocaust Educational Program dedicated by Linda and Stephen Gallon of Trenton in memory of her parents. The program is being presented in partnership with Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Mercer County.
“Righteous Among the Nations,” the highest civilian award bestowed by the State of Israel upon non-Jews, is given to those who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
Edmonds was taken prisoner by the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge. Together with other American soldiers, he was marched to a Nazi POW camp — Stalag IXA — near Ziegenhain, Germany. In January 1945, the Germans announced that all Jewish POWs in Stalag IXA were to report the following morning. Edmonds, the highest-ranking soldier in the camp’s American section, ordered all the men, Jews and non-Jews, to fall out the following morning. When the German officer in charge saw that all the inmates — more than 1,000 — were standing in front of their barracks, he screamed at Edmonds that they could not possibly all be Jews, to which Edmonds replied: “We are all Jews.” The officer removed his pistol from its holster and pointed at Edmond’s head, but the sergeant, citing the protection of POWs in the Geneva Convention, reportedly told the Nazi that if he shot him, “you’ll have to shoot us all and after the war you will be tried as a war criminal.”
Edmonds survived the war and served in uniform again in Korea before his death in 1985.
The lecture is free and open to the public. A dairy dinner reception with Pastor Edmonds will be held at 5:30; the cost is $36.
To RSVP, visit adathisraelnj.org/event/sacks-wilner-program/ or call 609-896-4977.