(JTA) — A bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate would honor an American prisoner of war who protected 200 American-Jewish POWs during World War II with the Congressional Gold Medal.
The bill introduced Monday would recognize Master Sgt. Rodrick “Roddie” Edmonds, who refused to reveal to a German commandant at the Stalag IXA camp which troops under his command were Jewish.
Edmonds was captured during the Battle of the Bulge by the German army on Dec. 19, 1944. As the highest ranking officer in the POW camp, he was responsible for the camp’s 1,292 American POWs. The camp’s commandant ordered Edmonds to identify the Jewish soldiers.
When Edmonds refused, the commandant placed his pistol against Edmonds’ head, demanding that he identify the Jewish soldiers. Edmonds responded, “We are all Jews here.”
Edmonds returned home after the war, but never told his family of his actions.
“When I learned of Master Sergeant Edmonds’ valiant actions that saved Jewish-American prisoners of war in Germany, I was reminded of the Talmud’s teaching that ‘whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world,’” Cardin, who is Jewish, said in a statement.