American soldier Pvt. Edward Donald “Eddie” Slovik was executed On This Day in 1945 for desertion. He was the only American soldier to receive this punishment during WWII and the first since the Civil War.
Slovik was drafted, beginning as an 4-F. He had a prison record which lowered his rank automatically until, due to personnel needs, those standards were lowered. Then he was reclassified as an 1-A. In August 1944 he was sent as a replacement to
with the 28th Infantry Division. He got lost on the way to the Front
and ended up with a Canadian until 5 October when the Canadians turned him over
to the military police. Men got lost all the time so that incident was accepted
as is, so to speak. Once back though, Slovik told his commanders he did not
want to fight and would not. His commanding officers did not accept this and
Slovik deserted the next day. He returned, admitted to running away and was
sent to the stockade. France
He was offered a deal which required rejoining the fight. Slovik refused and was tried on 11 November. In just two hours the verdict came back that he be executed. He appealed but the verdict remained. Finally on 31 January 1945 a 12 man firing squad executed Slovik in eastern
. He was just 24 years old at
the time when he was killed in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, France . Departement du Haut-Rhin, Alsace,
Slovik was born on 18 February 1920 in
. He was left in Detroit,
Michigan France, buried in the Oise-Aisne
and in a special section for
American soldiers who had also been executed for crimes. The Cemetery is
located in Fere-en-Tardenois, Departement de l'Aisne, Memorial Cemetery .
Eddie and Antoinette met at the Montella Plumbing Company in
, where they
worked. They married on 7 November 1942. In 1987 his remains were returned to Detroit to be reburied
next to his widow, Antoinette Wisniewski Slovik. They are buried in Michigan Detroit’s . Woodmere
Since then, several articles and books, even a movie staring Martin Sheen, have reviewed Slovik’s execution. Was he executed to discourage others from deserting? This seems to be the primary focus of much discussion.
Ancestry.com. Global, Find A Grave Index for Non-Burials, Burials at Sea, and other Select Burial Locations, 1300s-Current [database on-line].
Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Provo, UT, USA
Rosters of World
War II Dead, 1939-1945 [database on-line]. U.S. : Ancestry.com Operations Inc,
2007. Provo, UT, USA
, Social Security
Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. U.S. : Ancestry.com Operations Inc,
2011. Number: 370-20-1029; Provo, UT, USA Issue
State: ; Issue Date: Before
Antoinette Wisniewski Slovik. Find A Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7006200.
Kimmelman, Benedict B. (September–October 1987). "The Example Of Private Slovik". American Heritage Magazine. Accessed online 31 January 2015.
Pvt. Eddie Slovik. Find A Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=3736&ref=acom & http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=SL&GSpartial=1&GSbyrel=all&GSst=24&GScntry=4&GSsr=6561&GRid=3134&
“The execution of Pvt. Slovik,” History.com. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-execution-of-pvt-slovik
On This Day is a prompt I started this month to further explore historical events.
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015