NEW YORK (JTA) — President Donald Trump told the story of an Army sergeant who defied a Nazi command to identify which of his fellow American soldiers were Jewish.
Edmonds, who died in 1985, was a senior noncommissioned officer in a German prisoner of war camp in 1944. When the camp commander ordered all the Jews to step forward, he refused to allow it.
“We are all Jews,” said Edmonds, who was not Jewish.
Threatened with a gun, he said, “You can shoot me, but you will have to shoot all of us, and when the war comes to an end you will be tried as a war criminal.”
The commandant turned and walked away.
Trump pointed out that two people connected to Edmonds were in the audience: his granddaughter Lauren Matthews and former Staff Sgt. Lester Tanner, one of the Jewish soldiers saved by Edmonds.
Tanner gave testimony that helped Edmonds get posthumously recognized by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial as a Righteous Among the Nations. He was the first American soldier to receive the award.