Ethics Hero Emeritus: Roddie W. Edmonds (1919-1985)

All these years later, and we are still learning about heroic acts of World War II that missed the pages of history.

Roddie W. Edmonds of Knoxville, Tennessee just became the first U.S. soldier to be named Righteous Among the Nations, an honor bestowed by Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance and Research Center to  non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Edmonds, who died 30 years ago, never even told his son about the dramatic episode that earned him the posthumous honor, and his story only came to light in the past few years when two men who he saved came forward to tell a tale that could have been crafted in Hollywood. ( As you will see, long after the true event, it was.). He had been captured during the Battle of the Bulge, and was one of about a thousand U.S. soldiers taken to the Stalag IXA camp in Ziegenhain, Germany in 1945. There were 200 Jewish soldiers in the group, and the Nazi officers in charge of the camp announced that the Jewish soldiers were to assemble outside their barracks to be taken to labor camps, and probably killed. Continue reading

The Strange, Seldom Told Story of Ethics Hero Emeritus, Albert Göring (1895-1966)

Good brother, Bad brother.

Good brother, Bad brother.

The German and Israeli news media have recounted the exploits of Albert Göring recently , because he is under posthumous consideration for the highest honorary title conferred by the State of Israel, the “Righteous Among the Nations.” These are the heroes of the Holocaust, the brave individuals who risked their lives to foil Hitler’s Ultimate Solution. Since it was created in 1953, the title has been awarded to 24,356 people from 47 countries.

Göring is a strong candidate to join their ranks, for he saved many Jews from extermination during World War II. Honoring him would not be a difficult decision, except for one thing: he was the younger brother of one of Hitler’s vilest henchman, the architect of the death camps and master of the Gestapo, Hermann Göring.

Albert became disillusioned with the Nazis early in their rise to power and moved to Austria, where he frequently spoke out against Hitler and the Third Reich. He would have ended up in prison when the Germans took over Austria, but brother Hermann Goering, Hitler’s designated successor, believed that blood was thicker than genocide: he kept Albert out of the hands of the Gestapo, even though he knew his little brother was an enemy of the state.

Nobody knows exactly how many Jews and non-Jews Albert saved from his brother’s death camps, because Albert Göring himself didn’t know how many the people he helped. Continue reading