The ‘Wereth Massacre’ – Remembering the ‘Wereth 11’ – African-American Heroes of WWII!

The Brave Men of the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion

The brave and tragic story of an African-American military unit (333rd Field Artillery Battalion) which was taken prisoner by Nazi German Forces during the Ardennes Offensive of December 1944. This unit was sacrificed to cover the retreat of the main (White) US force. Despite the utmost bravery of their last stand, and the fact that they defended their position to virtually the last round, the survivors of this unit were surrendered by their Officer to the advancing Nazi German soldiers. Whilst being marched toward Germany in appalling weather, these 11 men came into the custody of Waffen SS Stormtroopers – renowned for their religious-like devotion to Adolf Hitler and strict adherence to his racist and eugenic ideology. For the Nazi German regime, this was an all or nothing offensive designed to split the Allies in Western Europe and bludgeon a ceasefire. With his Western Front secured, Hitler could then marshal his forces to the East and attempt to stop the Soviet Red Army from its advancement toward Berlin. For the average African-American conscript – particularly those recruited in the Southern States (as was the 333rd) – the institutional racism of the White US system was a common experience. This discrimination and prejudice was expressed in a segregated army staffed almost exclusively by White Officers. If there was a choice between sacrificing Black soldiers over White soldiers – the Black soldiers were always viewed as expendable, and a Black life not as valuable as a White life (this continued well into the Vietnam War era) . In this regard, the Black soldiers faced US fascism everyday of their lives, which could culminate in the hideous US pastime of ‘lynching’ – or the rape, torture and murder of African-Americans by rabid White mobs – a practice that was supposedly ended in the 1960’s, but which still continues in its modern form through the hands of the White police force. After African-American troops returned to the US after WWII, many would be rewarded with terminal unemployment, imprisonment, poverty, debt and death. I am proud of the African-American soldiers of the US Army in WWII because like their Soviet-counterparts, they activity took part in the fight against International Fascism. African-American prisoners were often filmed by the Nazi German regime as a means to ‘scare’ the German population into putting-up more of a fight against the Allies. The German newsreels spoke of ‘monkeys’ in uniform being unleashed by the Americans to rape the racially pure girls and women of Nazi Germany. After falling into the hands of the Waffen SS, the Wereth 11 were brutally (and systematically) tortured before being killed with multiple bayonet strikes (often through the eye socket). Their arms and legs suffered numerous breakages, as did their jaw-bones and skulls. When shot – the wounds were intended to cause great and continuous pain – rather than sudden death.

Such was the racism inherent in the US Army at the time, that although many similar massacres were officially reported during the ‘Battle of the Bulge’, and despite the fact that the Wereth massacre was known to have taken place, its details were deliberately omitted from the report on the battle. The “Wereth 11”, were: 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. When African-American soldiers returned to the US and were demobilised – the US Government deliberately withheld from this men the financial assistance granted to all White Veterans of WWII.

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