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Simple Commemoration for Eleven Fallen US Soldiers
Submitted by Fred Hinson
[FBIS Translated Text] Wereth -- Since 1994, a memorial set up between Halenfeld and Wereth has commemorated a horrendous war crime committed here on 17 December 1944 in the upheavals of world War II. As part of the US Memorial Day, a high-ranking representative of the US Embassy in Brussels commemorated the 11 black American soldiers who were savagely butchered here by SS troops.
Ms. Hinson-Jones was accompanied by her father, who saw active service himself in the area 54 years ago and was returning for the first time to visit the site of the massacre of his comrades.
Special tribute was paid in Wereth to the fact that the memorial had been set up solely through the private initiative of the Langer family from Wereth.
The Langer family had developed a particular attachment to the fate of the 11 American soldiers who, totally exhausted and drenched to the skin and frozen stiff, wanted to surrender, first and foremost because of the fact that the soldiers were arrested in their home, where they had just had something to eat and from where they were taken away by the SS troops.
Brother and sister Hermann and Tina Langer still remember clearly from their childhood that the defenseless black Americans were driven off by their torturers in cars down the village street and were never seen again.
Not until the end of the offensive in the Ardennes were the tortured bodies of the 11 men found on the spot where the memorial -- formerly a grave cross from the Langer family estate -- set up four years ago by Hermann Langer and Felix Wio now stands.
In the presence of Mayor Klaus Schumacher and delegations from the East Belgium section of the Federation of European War Veterans, the Eastern Region Reserve Officers, the King Albert Veterans, and the National Association of War Invalids, Ms. Hinson-Jones laid a wreath in the colours of the United States flag beside the memorial.
Citizens of Wereth
A number of citizens of Wereth and the surrounding neighborhood also attended the simple ceremony of their own accord, thereby bestowing a note of international fellowship on the occasion.
On behalf of the US Embassy, the diplomat expressed her pleasure at meeting the local population at this historic site. "When I was young, my father often told me about the Belgians, warm-hearted hospitality, and since I have been working for the US Embassy in Brussels, I have been able to confirm it for myself."
She said she had never thought it possible that she would ever have an opportunity for such an encounter at that sad place, but that the inhabitants of Wereth's commitment would fill her and all Americans for ever with great pride.
Curtis Adams, Mager Bradley, George Davis, Thomas Forte, Robert Green, Nathanial Moos, G.W. Mooton, W.M. Putchet, James Stewart, Due Turner, and Jim Leathewood, who died for peace, were also commemorated with the playing of the American and Belgian national anthems, after which the American delegation expressed the wish to meet the locals present at the ceremony over a sociable drink.
This duly happened at the Mueller in Heppenbach, where abundant use was made of the opportunity to exchange stories about old and recent experiences in the uniting Europe.
(Photo caption] The representative of the US Embassy in Brussels, Ms. Hinson-Jones, and her father (right) symbolically laid a wreath on the memorial to the 11 murdered US soldiers in Wereth. The gesture, which took place on Memorial Day, also paid tribute to the memorial's private originators.
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