Wereth 11 to be honored at ceremony

by Maj. Lawanda D Warthen
USAHC Kaiserslautern commander

The African American Soldiers killed by the German Schutzstaffel during the Battle of the Bulge will be honored at 11 a.m. Sept. 18 in Wereth, Belgium.   

These 11 Soldiers were part of a unit that was reactivated in the regular Army as a 155 millimeter howitzer battalion a year before their deployment.

In their first six months of combat, they were separated from their unit while evading the Germans. While looking for food and shelter, they approached the Mathius Langer house in Wereth, and the family took them in.

About an hour later, a German patrol approached the house. The Americans surrendered, were taken out and were shot and dumped into a ditch where their bodies remained until mid-February. The official report noted they had been brutalized, with broken legs, bayonet wounds to the head, and fingers cut off.

These 11 Soldiers from Alabama remained unknown to the world until 1994 when Herman Langer, son of Mathius, erected a small cross in the corner of the pasture where they had been murdered. On it were the names of the Soldiers: Curtis Adams, George Davis, Thomas J. Forte, Robert Green, Jim Leatherwood, Bradley Meagler, Nathaniel Moss, George W. Moten, William M. Pritchett, James A. Stewart and Due W. Turner.

In 2001, three Belgians took on the task of creating a more prominent memorial to them as well as to honor all African American GIs of World War II. The dedication of the new memorial was held in May 2004. Road signs now indicate the location of the memorial, and the Belgian Tourist Bureau lists it in its “Battle of the Bulge” brochures. 

The goal is to make the Wereth 11 a part of the American Battle Monuments Commission, known to all Americans and to history. These African American men, like so many others, paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

Currently in post production, the Wereth Massacre documentary will be released in February 2011 during Black History Month. Learn more about the project on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Wereth-Massacre/109405362427004.

If you would like to attend this year’s ceremony, a bus will leave from the Ramstein Post Exchange parking lot at 8 a.m. The cost is $35, which includes transportation and lunch. RSVPs are required no later than Sept. 10.

For more information, call 483-6265, e-mail warthen3@aol.com or visit http://themoderatevoice.com/13097/the-alabama-eleven-the-black-gis-of-wereth-belgium-memorial-day-2007/.