Never heard of these men have you? No surprise. Eleven Black men, ok, Negro men, who were soldiers in a segregated Army. What could be special about them?
Let me put this in language that is particularly resonant in August 2017. These eleven men were soldiers in the United States Army. They were ordered to hold their position to cover the retreat of American forces in December 1944 when Hitler’s Nazi war marchine launched a winter assault intended to throw the advancing Allied forces into disarray. The artillery position was overrun by the advancing German army and the Wereth 11 sought shelter in a small village at the edge of the German/Belgian border. One of the villagers took them in, at risk to his own life and that of his family. And, as is one of the ugly hallmarks of WWII, one of the neighbors, a German sympathizer, reported the presence of the American Negro soldiers to the SS.
Please watch the embedded video to learn the story of the Wereth Eleven. http://www.wereth.org/en/home
The Wereth Eleven tragedy was overshadowed by the more commonly remembered massacre of American soldiers by Nazi forces at Malmedy, France. But just how awful was that? Well, the German officer in charge of that operation was tried for war crimes and he was sentenced to be executed, but his sentence was commuted and he eventually went free, in 1954. http://www.wereth.org/en/home
Its unknown, to me, at this time what happened to the SS unit that murdered the Wereth 11. I have decided that I am going to find out. I am also going to find a way to get to the memorial that was originally established by the son of the villager who sheltered the Wereth Eleven. The monument is dedicated to the 11 men who died and to all those who served in racially segregated military units in Europe (that would include Japanese as well as African American soldiers). See http://www.midtownmonthly.net/blog/nisei-war-memorial/
So here’s my point: The Wereth 11 deserve to be recognized for their service, their sacrifice and the dishonorable and despicable conduct that resulted in their deaths. These are their names: Curtis Adams of South Carolina; Mager Bradley of Mississippi, George Davis Jr. of Alabama; Thomas Forte of Mississippi; Robert Green of Georgia; James Leatherwood of Mississippi; Nathaniel Moss of Texas; George Motten of Texas; William Pritchett of Alabama; James Stewart of West Virginia; and Due Turner of Arkansas.
P.S.: If there isn’t a park named for one of these men somewhere in one of the states where they were from, I’m sure there’s a Confederate monument site that could repurposed.