World War II has spawned thousands of books and movies. Many of which are disturbing. How can man be so cruel to his fellow man? Most of these books and movies tend to look at the big picture, famous battles for example. Many of these works quote staggering statistics about the dead and wounded. But the numbers are so large that it is often difficult to comprehend. What does 4 million look like? What does 1 million look like? To most people these numbers are hard to visualize.

I prefer numbers that I can understand. The Wereth Eleven refers to eleven men that needlessly were slaughtered by Hitler’s Waffen SS near Wereth Belgium. It was not about who they were, but what they were. They were eleven men of African-American descent.

Although I previously stated that big numbers were hard to deal with, I have to use one. When the US entered World War II there was a need for man power. Over a million men of African-American descent were conscripted into the battle. But one has to understand that the America of the 1940’s was a far different place. Segregation was the name of the game, integration was not to happen for years.

As a consequence the African-American soldiers were put into their own units. Maybe the most famous of which are the Tuskegee Airmen. Less celebrated was the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion.

There are few members of the 333rd still alive, the Filmmakers did however track down the now 90 year old Staff Sargent George Shomo. His comments are both thought provoking and deeply disturbing. Hitler’s Third Reich viewed people of African origin as “Monkeys, less than Monkeys”.  He also goes on to explain some of the friction even with the US hierarchy prior to his deployment to the European theater. I will not tell the story here, it is better that the viewer discover it for themselves. It is better that your hear it from George rather than me.

The Wereth Eleven is a very sad story. The setting is the huge conflict known as The Battle Of The Bulge. But the story is far more complex than a mere fire fight. The Wereth Eleven story is so unique that in Wereth, Belgium there exists a memorial.

If you are interested in history, this is without doubt one of the finest documentaries about a little known, or understood part of both World War II and our heritage.

There is a trailer, but it hardly does justice to the story.


You can get your own copy of this very fine DVD by using the Amazon link above or direct from Janson Media.

Simon Barrett

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