1661: Oliver Cromwell, posthumously 1968: Nguyen Van Lem

1945: Private Eddie Slovik, the last American shot for desertion

January 31st, 2009 dogboy

On January 31, 1945, Private Edward Donald “Eddie” Slovik became a curious outlier of World War II: he was executed by firing squad by the U.S. Army for desertion. He is the only person to have been so punished for that crime since the Civil War.

Pvt Slovik was, by all accounts, quiet and helpful, by no means a coward, and more than willing to aid in the effort of World War II, traits which would have put him among a large class of that war’s veterans. Unfortunately, he was also immobilized by shelling. Equally unfortunately, he knew it, and he decided to do something about it.

Slovik and a friend, Pvt John F. Tankey, first separated from their detachment under artillery fire in late August 1944, shortly after being shipped to France. The pair hooked up with a Canadian unit and spent six weeks pitching in. Having recused themselves from the hard shelling others were experiencing on the front line, they opted to rejoin their regular U.S. unit: Slovik and Tankey sent a letter to their commanding officer explaining their absence and returned on Oct. 7.

But the front lines were not a place for Pvt Slovik.

After his assignment to the rifle unit, which would face imminent danger during shelling, Slovik asked to be placed in the rear guard, indicating he was too scared to remain in front. His request was refused. He then reportedly asked whether leaving the unit again would be considered desertion, was told it would be, and opted for the seemingly safer route of, well, deserting. One day later, Slovik was back at a U.S. camp, this time turning himself in to the camp cook. He had drafted a letter explaining his actions and indicating that he knowingly deserted, permanently recording his guilt on paper.

It’s not clear whether Pvt Slovik was acting on principles or out of an understanding of the U.S. military judicial system. He was by no means the only soldier without affinity for the conditions of war, particularly on the allied side. During the war, thousands of soldiers were tried and convicted in military courts for desertion, but up to then, all had received only time in the brig. What is clear is that Slovik was repeatedly offered opportunities to return to the line, and he equally repeatedly refused.

The case was adjudicated on Nov 11 by nine staff officers of the 28th Division, none of whom had yet been in battle. One of those judges, Benedict B. Kimmelman, wrote a stark and intriguing account of his role in the story of Pvt Slovik, capturing the scene thusly:

Five witnesses were heard. The cross-examinations were perfunctory. The defense made no closing argument. The court recessed for ten minutes, resumed, and retired almost immediately afterward. Three ballots were taken in closed court, the verdicts unanimously guilty on all counts. In open court once more, the president announced the verdict and the sentence: to be dishonorably discharged, to forfeit all pay and allowances due, and to be shot to death with musketry. The trial had begun at 10:00 A.M.; it was over at 11:40 A.M.

As with all court martial cases, Slovik’s was sent to a judge advocate for review. His criminal record, including everything from destruction of property to public intoxication to embezzlement, did not endear him to the reviewer. More importantly, though, the advocate felt Slovik could be made an example:

He has directly challenged the authority of the government, and future discipline depends upon a resolute reply to this challenge. If the death penalty is ever to be imposed for desertion, it should be imposed in this case, not as a punitive measure nor as retribution, but to maintain that discipline upon which alone an army can succeed against the enemy.

Strangely, Pvt Slovik was the only person who would be exemplified this way.

Though the military tried 21,000 desertion cases and passed down 49 death sentences for desertion during the war, it carried out only Slovik’s. And in the war’s final battles, with Germany collapsing, his execution seemed like a surreal throwback. As Kimmelman notes, hundreds if not thousands of soldiers were strictly guilty of dereliction of duty and desertion in the waning days of 1944.

They’re not shooting me for deserting the United Stated Army — thousands of guys have done that. They’re shooting me for bread I stole when I was 12 years old. (Source)

Three weeks after his conviction and three weeks before the Battle of the Bulge, Slovik’s execution order was confirmed by the 28th Division’s commander, Major General Norman “Dutch” Cota. Cota was disturbed by Slovik’s forthrightness in confessing to the desertion, and, as a front line commander who had sustained severe casualty rates in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest, had no sympathy for the crime.

After an appeal to the deaf ears of Dwight Eisenhower shortly before the sentence was to be carried out, Slovik was out of options. He was taken to the courtyard of an estate near the village of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines and shot by 11 Army marksmen* at 10 a.m. By 10:04, as they were reloading, he was declared dead. His body was interred at a French cemetery, and after decades of lobbying the U.S. government, his remains were returned to Michigan in 1987.

Because he was dishonorably discharged, Slovik was not entitled to a pension, and his wife, Antoinette, stopped receiving payments. Curiously, though the Army managed to communicate this to her, they omitted the bit about the execution. She found out in 1953 from William Bradford Huie.

Huie was a journalist who took immediate interest in Slovik’s story, popularizing it with his book The Execution of Private Slovik, which was released in 1954. Twenty years later, the book and title were requisitioned for a well-received TV movie starring Martin Sheen.

Perhaps more interesting than this film was its never-produced predecessor, which is entitled to a place in the history of the Hollywood Blacklist. Frank Sinatra acquired rights to The Execution of Private Slovik and in 1960 announced that he would produce it as his directorial debut — with the script of this inherently political story to be written by “Hollywood Ten” blacklistee Albert Maltz. Maltz and other blackballed writers had continued working pseudonymously during the anti-Communist blacklist, but Sinatra’s openly announcing an intent to hire and credit Maltz constituted a significant crack in the wall — even though commercial and political heat eventually forced Sinatra to abandon the project. This event has treatment in a recommended episode of the magnificent cinema-history podcast You Must Remember This.

* The firing squad included 12 marksmen, but one was given a blank. Despite their skill, the 11 remaining shooters did not manage to kill him instantaneously.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Botched Executions,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Desertion,Diminished Capacity,Execution,France,Guest Writers,History,Milestones,Military Crimes,Other Voices,Shot,Soldiers,U.S. Military,USA,Wartime Executions

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122 thoughts on “1945: Private Eddie Slovik, the last American shot for desertion”

  1. Ethan S. says:

    On what moral ground can anyone justify one man killing a second man because the second man refused to kill a third man the first one wanted killed? The answer is none. The fact that it was the government telling a man to kill a third party does not change the moral equation, regardless of how evil the third party was. The end does not justify the means. After killing an innocent man whose only crime was refusing to be a hired gun to kill a third party, who can claim that the first party is not now just as guilty of murder as the third party?! To those of you who would make the “greater good” argument, two points: Hitler’s regime would not likely have lasted long under the weight of internal resistance movements, mighty Russia, and Britain’s finest. But even if that had NOT been the case, how can we claim to have been completely on the “right” side of the war when Stalin killed millions more than Hitler did?? If we were truly buying the “greater good” argument to save the greatest number of innocent lives, perhaps we should have joined Hitler in the fight against the one man responsible for the most murders in the history of the world: Stalin! Bottom line: there is no just moral basis under which anyone can claim Eddie Slovic deserved to die.

  2. howard crise says:

    Eddie was as stubborn as he was yellow. He was given every opportunity to save his yellow ass and refused. It was wartime, he deserted, he had to be made an example of.

    End of story.

    Howard Crise
    S/Sgt 1961-64

  3. Robotnik says:

    Abraham Lincoln said of specific conscientious objectors , the Dunkards, I need legions of men like you , and granted exclusions from battle for those men.
    Eddie Slovick served and performed to his ability*.
    I’ll stand with Abe Lincoln, a truly great leader in world history, rather than the small minded haters that post here with impunity.
    Execute Slovick, but grant medals to the murderers of My Lai because they fired their weapons , at unarmed civilians ! outrageous *

  4. I. C. Reality says:

    Eddy Slovics letter to command:
    >>>> I Pvt. Eddie D. Slovik No. 36896415 confess to the desertion of the United States Army. At the time of my desertion we were in Albuff in France. I came to Albuff as a replacement. They were shelling the town and we were told to dig in for the night. The following morning they were shelling us again. I was so scared nerves and trembling that at the time the other replacements moved out I couldn’t move. I stayed there in the foxhole till it was quiet and I was able to move. I then walked in town. Not seeing any of our troops so I stayed over night at the French hospital . The next morning I turned myself over the Canadian Provost Corp. After being with them six weeks I was turned over to the American M.P. They turned me loose. I told my commanding officer my story. I said that if I had to go out there again I’d run away. He said there was nothing he could do for me, so I ran away again and I’LL RUN AWAY AGAIN IF I HAVE TO GO OUT THERE.

    ============================================

    I would not want this man next to me in battle.. The command had no business putting him on the front line.
    That is worse than putting a faggit next to me in battle.
    I last thing in battle a soldier needs is something else to worry about with the enemy trying to kill me. The stupidity of commanding generals..

  5. Jerry Newcomb says:

    (Then I suggest that you re-think your position.. Good luck and God bless)

    Correction on the prior post

  6. Jerry Newcomb says:

    Rant… Sorry thats your thinking.. Wow!!!! I am just speaking the 100% TRUTH.. If the truth hurts you. Then I suggest that you re think your position.. Good luck and God bless…

    -Jerry

  7. Fiz says:

    Love you, KYGB!

  8. KYGB says:

    Had to keep things “gender correct”, Fiz.

    Somehow, “Fiz” and ‘him’ didn’t seem too right!

  9. Fiz says:

    I didn’t think it was worth mentioning, KYGB, and Jerry, you aren’t worth talking to. You rant for the sake of it.

  10. Jerry Newcomb says:

    KYGB…Well she should let us know.. Fiz is not common female name. But you should say something to her for her uninformed comment.. Dont you think.. Or do you just persecute those who walk in the light???

    I expect this from people like you. I pray for you everyday. . You see, my brother or sister which ever you are, KYGB… Jesus was persecuted and if we follow him as I do. I will also get the same as you are doing now. You are not doing anything that I did not expect.
    I invite your persecution. As I know I am on the right track.. Good luck to you in your walk. Mathew 7:7 will help you.

    Let me enlighten you.. If 1,000 said the sky was purple and only one said it was blue.. The “one” would be correct. the “thousand” would be wrong. But together they think that with all that are agreeing with them that they are right. But you see… The TRUTH is the TRUTH no matter how many are against it. Food for thought my brother or sister which ever you are.. EDDY SLOVIC was murdered by the U.S. Army plain and simple.. If you disagree. Then your not walking with Almighty GOD! SEEK THE TRUTH..

  11. KYGB says:

    Kevin Sullivan is an ex-minister and a gentleman. He is also a stalwart contributor to this website with his comments in various threads. Most notably, the thread on Ted Bundy where Kevin has answered many questions regarding his book, “The Bundy Murders”

    Jerry, your reply to Fiz was way off the beam, also. Fiz is a female, so the “Bro” comment wasn’t very well aimed in her direction.

    I think you need to relax and gather your senses, Jerry.

  12. Jerry Newcomb says:

    I believe that you are a good man at heart Kevin..(Wink)

  13. Jerry Newcomb says:

    Murder is what the U.S. Army did to Pvt. Eddy Slovic..
    So what is your point?

  14. Kevin M. Sullivan says:

    Jerry – I may have been a bit harsh with you, and for that I’m sorry. I stand by everything I said, but I didn’t mean to be as heavy-handed as I ultimately was with my posts.

    Take care

  15. Jerry Newcomb says:

    Kevin.. I retract myself saying you were robbed.. I was out of place.

    You can write to me Kevin.. newk444@hotmail.com

  16. Jerry Newcomb says:

    Bro.. Go get your money back.. you were robbed..

  17. Kevin M. Sullivan says:

    Jerry – This will be my final word:

    First, I’m an educated, ordained minister. I had to spend far more than a dollar on my education.

    Secondly, there is no such commandant “thou shalt not kill”. The Hebrew states “Thou shalt do no murder”. King James did not translate this correctly. Sorry to burst your bubble.

  18. Jerry Newcomb says:

    Kevin.. You can correct my clerical errors. That’s about all you can correct!! Have at it bro!!!

  19. Jerry Newcomb says:

    Keven.. Why have you changing the topic ??? It is good to kill if it in in defense of life. No argument there. But we are talking about a man named Eddy Slovic who was killed by the U.S. military because he was so afraid that he was of no use up front. Why have you twisted this topic? You want to quote something that has nothing to do with Pvt. Eddy Slovic. Please explain the Sixth Commandment that says “thou shalt not kill.” Where does it say it is ok to kill a man who is afraid???

    As far as WWII I did not say we are to sit and let Satan win. As I am not now letting him win in you. We do have to kill for defense and self defense. But remember it was not the “German” we were at war with. Your small mind has not grasped this. It was the ruling power that we were at war with. Have you ever heard of “The Christmas truce”?
    If not Google it and you will learn something.

    As for those who take up the sword to protect me. You are so sad speaking without knowledge. I was in the U.S.M.C. Once a Marine always a Marine.

    As for a wife or kids. No!!! I do not. But I myself would die to protect the smallest of ANY HUMAN Being they are all my brothers and sisters. I am a true man who will die for the right to life of those like Pvt. Eddy Slovic.
    I would die to also protect you.

    The bottom line is . What they did to Eddy was 100% WRONG and there is nothing you or anyone can say to make it good or right! PERIOD!

    -Jerry

  20. Jerry Newcomb says:

    Hey Fiz my brother… I am sorry that you have not understood what was said.. For a dollar I can make you a minister..
    Be cool!!!

  21. Kevin M. Sullivan says:

    Fiz — Thanks for the kind words…

  22. Kevin M. Sullivan says:

    Jerry-

    Your theology is so convoluted, I’m not going to try to straighten it out. I will, however, make a few points:

    One: “God does not want anyone to kill” you say. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. Does it not say in the book of Romans 13:4 “For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”? This means, uninformed Jerry, that it is okay with God for certain people to be killed if they are doing some exceedingly bad things.

    The same goes for WW2: Had we, the British, and the Russians, not killed so many Germans, and violently destroyed so much of their infrastructure, they’d still be killing Jews and anyone else they disliked! Those folks were not stopped with prayer, but through the use of armies wielding a good deal of concentrated violence. And guess, what, uninformed Jerry? God was in favor of it all.

    Two: You are a pacifist Jerry, and nothing more. Of course, that’s fine by me, but understand this: You have the luxury of this because others are bearing the sword to protect you.

    I don’t know if you have a wife and/or children, but if you do, then think about this: If somebody is trying to murder them, will you stand by and let it happen? Will you call these killers your “brother”, and then shower them with love? Or will you pick up a weapon, and like a man, save your family?

  23. Fiz says:

    Jerry – Kevin was a minister for many years. Who’s the fool now? I’d rather have Kevin as a minister than a ranter like you!

  24. Jerry Newcomb says:

    Kevin…Read your bible and you will know also my learning brother.. You see all are destined to the Lake of fire.. But you see my friend.. Almighty God had sympathy on us and sent us his son to earth in the midst of the war between good and evil.. He sent him so we can be redeemed back to Almighty God. Any who call on the name of his son Jesus and accept his sacrifice then turn from his fallen ways as a human being can avoid the lake of fire. Man is not a very intelligent being when it comes to eternal life. We were all born not knowing good from evil. We all had to be taught. The reason why this country is so blessed is because it was founded on the teachings of Jesus. And God blessed it so we can protect those that the rest condemn. Like you are condemning of Pvt. Eddy Slovic. He has a God given right to choose not to kill. God does not want anyone to kill.. If all were like you.. Everyone would be dead sooner or later. But if everyone was like him (Pvt.Eddy Slovic). No one would kill anyone.. Think about that my learning friend Kevin and anyone who thinks like him. It is better if you just don’t comment if your going to side with Satan.. Everything you do pleases either God or Satan.. Take a guess at who you are pleasing when you condemn your brother. You see Satan has already been defeated. He is just going through the motions awaiting his destiny. But many will join him in his destiny..
    I suggest that you contemplate your place in eternity and not defend your condemning of your brother. It is human nature to rebel against the truth when we know we are wrong about something and want to be right at no matter the cost. Just remember you have the intelligence if you really seek the truth and not your own human understanding. Don’t let Satan fool you and don’t let him make a fool out of you.. Remember Almighty God is watching you now. Make your reply wise and in the way of love.
    LOVE is the strongest thing on earth. Seek this love and you too will not condemn your brother. See you on the way up. I mean if your going there.. I pray for you and all my brothers and sisters.. We all need prayer including me. God bless.-Jerry

  25. Kevin M. Sullivan says:

    Jerry — You are a rather ignorant man. How can YOU be the judge of who does, and does not get to go to Heaven?

    “Your destined for the lake of fire” is your comment. Well, first of all, Jerry, it’s “You’re” not “your”. But putting that aside, who gave you the right to say such a thing? It certainly wasn’t God.

    Slovic was shot for desertion, nothing more. You may not like it, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Grow up, man.

  26. Jerry Newcomb says:

    Eddy Slovic was a man who was created by God and he was who he was PERIOD!!! And he has the same right to live as anyone of you who condemn him. All the Vets that don’t like him. Seem to forget what they are fighting for… We fight for people who are like him. Not every man can withstand the vigors of war.. Some can and some cant.. We will all stand in front of Almighty God one day.. And all you ignorant VETS who have no sympathy for him.. Try and get past yourself and look to he who sits on the thrown in Heaven. You will see him.. Do you want sympathy from him??? Your destined for the lake of fire. It is in your best interest to seek the truth in compassion and love.. Governments want war.. Not the soldier. Weather you believe in the TRUTH of God.. This does not matter.. Because the truth is the truth no matter if YOU believe it or not.. I my self can not wait to see Eddy Slovic and shake his hand.. You VETS remember one thing.. He stood firm when he was standing in front of 12 men with guns pointing at him.. He did not whimper or cower…. I think you would have.. Your not brave.. Your the cowards for not standing up for the man who was afraid.. I pray for all my brothers and sisters.. Satan is the one deceiving you into the ignorance that you have so eagerly embraced.. Be good in your heart. Stop cussing. Stop yelling at your kids and stop hitting your wives.. Thats the real war.. It’s with the DEVIL.. Get a grip on life and seek the reality of truth!

    GOOD LUCK and those who are soldiers in Christ..
    I am with you. Those that are not I am fighting for you.

    -Jerry

  27. Kevin M. Sullivan says:

    I read the book 30 years ago. Having said that, see my post above: Slovik had a DUTY to pick up his weapon and follow his buddies into battle. If everyone else thought like Slovik, we’d all be speaking German or Japanese now, and there wouldn’t be a Jew left alive on the earth, as the Nazi’s would have completed their Final Solution (6 million Jews, 5 million other folks the Germans didn’t like!).

    Couldn’t let that happen, now could we?

    No sympathy for Slovik.

  28. Dylan Griesman says:

    He was not a coward he was a young talented man who had a disability that was phyical and he did have a card saying he could not go to war or be drafted but the army did not listion and sent him any way how about you all read the true story of Private slovik in the book The Execution of Private Slovik by William Bradford Huie. Read then you can say what ever you want

  29. Rock says:

    He was a coward.
    Do you think that all those other boys weren’t scared?
    He got his pardon. A pardon from the rest of us combat vets from kicking his ass!

  30. todd says:

    I gotta say these heavy handed emotional posts like John Howards are creepy as hell. He didn’t take part in one battle but he opted to even return to his unit. He wasn’t given many “ample” chances, he was given one. There is no excuse for executing deserters- that should be a prisonable offense in most circumstances-in the final months of a war when the outcome is virtually certain. This was AWOL, plain and simple. If he was given another chance to go to the front and refused, or left the army altogether, then you might be able to argue for execution, but to call him a shitbag or coward is retardation beyond the pale.

  31. Skeeter says:

    I have not read the book, nor seen the movie, but thit is probable that most anyone having anything to do with this situation is probably not with us any longer. There were 11 years between the actual execution and the book, and according to this site, another 20 prior to the movie. I am assuming, to keep stream with Hollywood Historical Fiction that everything in the movie is not historically accurate, how could we know unless someone was there, was Huie there? Has the Military released these records? I agree that Slovik should have been shot, those were the consequences for “desertion” however, he may not have had to go through that if previous “desertion” sentences would have been carried out.

  32. kevin m sullivan says:

    make that carrying, not caring,lol

  33. Kevin M. Sullivan says:

    Pvt. Slovik was given numerous chances to return to “the front”, but chose not to do so. And yet, when he faced death at the firing squad, he did so as a man. So why couldn’t he face death in combat? Very strange indeed.

    Anyway, while tragic, the US Army had little choice for someone as obstinate as Slovik. What would we, as a country and as a society, have if we allowed such rampant disobedience in a time of war? You can’t do it!

    During the Vietnam war, while I was caring my draft card and watching all the carnage on the news about the war, I had friends who were literally packing their clothes for a move to Canada, so as to avoid said war. But even though they were my friends, I must tell you, I was repulsed and disgusted by their actions. It wasn’t that I was longing to board a helicopter and to be spirited into some hot LZ in the central highlands of Vietnam, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to take a big dump on my country by high-tailing it to a country harboring cowards! It just isn’t my style.

    So I apologize that I don’t fall in with the crowd of hand-wringers who believe some great injustice was done to Pvt. Slovik. He had his chance, and he said no. Much better, had he grabbed his weapon, said ‘yes sir’, and marched forth to whatever was awaiting him. There is far more honor in doing it this way.

  34. Sharon says:

    Pvt. Slovik’s case is both infuriating and heartbreaking. I learned about him in the 50’s as a youngster and would overhear my parents discuss him with great sympathy and anger towards the Army (the same branch my father served in). I read “The Execution of Private Slovik” and saw the TV rendition of the story. For many years I’ve tried to find acceptance, for myself, of this dark and tragic piece of American history. Perhaps I never will. I simply can’t bring myself to agree with the execution. The boy’s life was taken in order to force others to kill. That’s what it boils down to.

  35. John Thompson says:

    I think nowadays our society places to much emphasize on saving everyone. Every person is somehow redeemable, but the truth is that everyone chooses his own destiny. The man was a damn coward trying to play the system. The system played him and justly so. Millions of other men did the right thing and he could have too…

    Pardon him? Hell let’s do him one better and put his face on a coward memorial and shame him until the end of time to discourage any other shitbags from deserting. As for his family have them change their names so that they don’t have to live with the shame of being related to this piece of garbage.

  36. KB says:

    Eddie Slovik was executed because he was unlucky. He was not the only soldier to desert the U.S. army, not even close. Thousands of people did it, the problem that arose in Slovik’s case was his poor timing. He deserted his division not to long after an entire division (10,000 men) surrendered to Germany. Eisenhower did not just execute him for his crime. He executed him to make an example and scare other soldiers that were considering it. If Eisenhower did not do something about all these surrenders/deserters, the Allied forces could have possibly lost the battle all together. So you tell me what would be better to lose, one man, or over 200,000?

  37. Nationalist says:

    Well, you have the perfect liberal President in office now, with Barack Hussein Obama, who would probably pardon Eddie. Someone should petition him. He lets terrorists off the hook why not Eddie?

  38. Robotnik says:

    from the source above >>>>>>”His criminal record, including everything from destruction of property to public intoxication to embezzlement, did not endear him to the reviewer. More importantly, though, the advocate felt Slovik could be made an example:”

    absolutely , he could have been made an example …for INTELLIGENT….and NEW military protocols…..this guy was not capable of withstanding the trials of frontline combat, but was prepared to serve within the support arena …cooking , medical …and so on.So, reassign him , and keep it quiet, anyone who knew him might still benefit from his willingness to participate , but not where his psyche would not allow.
    Many soldiers were handicapped by battle fatigue , within a very short time of engagement…bombardment , and shelling***.Slovik was wasted by an unforgiving system, but thankfully , many more men who suffered the same anxiety were spared ( at least by the system).I suppose he could always have attempted self harm …gtd return to the states.

  39. Robotnik says:

    THIS HERO said >>>>Jay | September 10th, 2009 at 3:39 pm
    He was given ample opportunity to return to his unit, over and over he was offered the chance to return and serve faithfuly, he refused. In time of war I mean real war like WWII, You have to have strict military discipline. You have to have an example. The sentence was just and fair.

    AND PRECISELY where have you served …or risked all for your country , for even a day , or the time it takes to hire a DVD , and feel like U’r a hero, or worth something ?
    What’s that ? You haven’t had the opportunity ??? well , do what Slovik did , organise your own resources ….do voluntary work , feed the poor….work in a soup kitchen …collect clothing ….be of some use …U armchair EXECUTIONER….

  40. Robotnik says:

    7. Frederick | October 10th, 2009 at 2:06 am…said ….
    Its a sad story, he did get what he deserved. However with that said being a Army veteran myself, I wish Pvt.Slovik does get a pardon. He fucked up but I feel for his family even know. The descendent of a coward is a hard thing to bear. I wonder how hard it would be to get a petition signed for such a thing?

    ….He got what he deserved ????? then you say he deserves a pardon , more so for his family ?????You label Eddie Slovik …a coward ….He wasn’t a coward ….Abraham Lincoln said of specific conscientious objectors , the Dunkards, I need legions of men like you , and granted exclusions for those men.
    Eisenhower, must be sleeping with the devil for that decision to execute SLOVIK , as are thousands of generals from throughout history , for the calamatous + insane decisions they made , resulting in the butchery of men(soldiers).Slovik was not a frontline soldier , realized it , knew his limitations , and should have been put to work in other areas , serving his country.His mistake was to trust that his country( adopted) had not executed a soldier for desertion since the CIVIL WAR ….and would not make him the first.He was shafted , railroaded , both for honesty, and his juvenile + young adult life misdemeanours- petty theft etc.His defence COUNSEL was also PATHETIC .Amazing how expeditiously Generals ( in this case Eisenhower) carry out procedures when threatened by honesty from lowly privates*.
    Sleep in Peace , my son …you are me ,I am you, and there but for the grace of God , lie I.

  41. Steve H says:

    The US army hire killers Blackwater that have done far worse. I guess its a crime not to want to kill people.

  42. Frederick says:

    Its a sad story, he did get what he deserved. However with that said being a Army veteran myself, I wish Pvt.Slovik does get a pardon. He fucked up but I feel for his family even know. The descendent of a coward is a hard thing to bear. I wonder how hard it would be to get a petition signed for such a thing?

  43. Why ignore the undisputed facts?

    The guy DESERTED. The punishment is firing squad. He knew it. He made the deliberate decision NOT to return to his unit and face the same perils of his comrades-in-arms, who were risking their lives for their country and for each other.

    So, what is the basis for a pardon?

  44. Jay says:

    He was given ample opportunity to return to his unit, over and over he was offered the chance to return and serve faithfuly, he refused. In time of war I mean real war like WWII, You have to have strict military discipline. You have to have an example. The sentence was just and fair.

  45. Ronnie C says:

    I’m a 24 year vet. What a cryng shame! The army ought to be ashamed. After all these years they still haven’ t gotten it right. Private Slovik did commit a crime, but it certainly wasn’t desertion. Antoinette should have lived to see him pardoned. He still has family somewhere, they deserve an apology and compensation. Ultimately he died because someone didn’t like his juvenile record..apparently the judge advocate and others making the decision to execute him were “without sin.” Perhaps President Obama will do what so many presidents have failed to do–pardon him and release his family from bondage.

  46. Don Ladd says:

    I too, believe that Pvt. Slovik’s execution was a travesty and certainly a black day for the US Army.
    I definately would not have wanted to be in Eisenhower’s shoes at that moment in history.
    It is clear what Pvt. Slovik’s intetions were, but they were only intentions. He never carried out his threat. The Army kept him in captivity for refusing to retract the threats.
    If he was never afforded the oppertunity to run away, how could he be a deserter?
    There is no doubt that he refused to serve under fire and that is a criminal offense but given the manner in which this whole business was handled, I don’t think the death penalty was appropriate.

  47. Marvin Drake says:

    I don’t think it is to save money, as Eddie probably has no more immediate family, and WWII veterans had no pension, unless a service-connected disability, only insurance policy proceeds. (We paid $6 per month for $10,000 insurance). Career military retirees have pensions. I have been a life-long Republican, but I do believe a Republican president or legislature would never pardon Eddie, as that would be a repudiation of President Eisenhower, who approved his execution, apparently after recomendation by his staff. I think this was the US Army’s most shameful official act, as after research, I believe Eddie did not really desert (even though he said so in his dumb “guardhouse lawyer” scheme). If they had to kill someone, they had a lot of deserters in the Paris blackmarket, close by Eisenhower’s headquarters at the time. Sure, it is so sad that so many lost their lives by enemy action, but this was so bad because WE did it, not the Germans.
    Marvin Drake, US Army 1943-46 (S/Sgt, Inf, Germany)

  48. Steve says:

    I love your site. I just put a small snippet about Pvt. Slovik’s execution on my site this morning, too. I also found it interesting that he still has not received a presidential pardon, yet. I imagine it’s to save money and prevent his family from being able to collect his pension. Lincoln pardoned deserters, Andrew Johnson pardoned confederate soldiers, Jimmy Carter pardoned Vietnam War draft-dodgers, but no justice yet for Pvt. Slovik.

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