1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry, honors fallen German soldier.
The plaque on the monument erected for LT Friedrich Lengfeld.The inscription (in both English and German) reads:
No man hath greater love than he who
layeth down his life for his enemy.
LIEUTENANT FRIEDRICH LENGFELD
Here in Huertgen Forest on November 12, 1944,
Lt. Lengfeld, a German officer, gave his life
while trying to save the life of an American
soldier lying severly wounded in the “Wilde
Sau” minefield and appealing for medical aid.
PLACED AT THIS SITE ON OCTOBER 7, 1994
TWENTY SECOND UNITED STATES
SOCIETY - WORLD WAR II
"Deeds Not Words"
On October 7, 1994 members of the 22nd Infantry Regiment Society dedicated a monument to a German Soldier from the Second World War. The monument stands near the entrance to the military cemetery in Hürtgen, Germany, the final resting place for over 2900 German Soldiers. It honors Leutnant Friedrich Lengfeld, a Company Commander in the German Army, who lost his life trying to save a wounded American Soldier.
It may possibly be the only monument erected anywhere, by former US Soldiers, to honor an act of bravery by a German Soldier, who at the time of the act, was an enemy at war with the United States.
One soldier who got out alive is retired Major Gen. John F. Ruggles of Phoenix, 86. He was then a Lieutenant Colonel serving with the 22nd Infantry Regiment. To mark the battle’s 50th anniversary in 1994, Ruggles organized an effort among veterans of the Regiment to place a monument in the forest. It’s a very different monument. Unlike other World War II tributes, this one doesn’t honor our own soldiers. This one honors an unheralded act of humanity by a 23-year-old German Infantry Lieutenant.
Ruggles wasn’t interested in media attention, and the monument’s dedication received no news coverage in the US. But a friend convinced him that others would like to hear the story.
On November 12, 1944, Lt. Friedrich Lengfeld was commanding a beleaguered German rifle company. Like most units on both sides, he had suffered heavy casualties. Early that morning, a wounded American could be heard calling from the middle of a German minefield in a no man’s land separating the combatants.
"Help me," the man cried. His unit had withdrawn, however, and no U.S. troops were close enough to hear. Lengfeld ordered his men not to shoot if Americans came to rescue the man. But none came. The soldier’s weakening voice was heard for hours. "Help me," he called, again and again. At about 10:30 that morning, Lengfeld could bear the cries no longer. He formed a rescue squad, complete with Red Cross vests and flags, and led his men toward the wounded American.
He never made it. Approaching the soldier, he stepped on a land mine, and the exploding metal fragments tore deeply into his body.
Eight hours later Lengfeld was dead. The fate of the American remains unknown. Much of this story, unpublished in any American books on the war, is based on the eyewitness account of Hubert Gees, who served as Lengfeld’s communications runner.
Speaking at the monument’s dedication in Germany last October, Gees said : “Lieutenant Lengfeld was one of the best soldiers of the Hürtgen Forest. He was an exemplary company commander, who never asked us to do more than he himself was ready to give. He possessed the complete confidence of his soldiers.”
Ruggles said Lengfeld’s sense of duty went far beyond the call. “You can’t go to any greater extreme than to give your life trying to rescue someone you are fighting as your enemy in war,” he said. “Compare that to the indifference most people feel about each other today.” The bronze and concrete monument is believed to be the only one placed by Americans in a German military cemetery.
To the young Lieutenant, the voice crying out that day did not come from an enemy. Nor from an American, nor a stranger. It came from a human being in need. Something inside Lengfeld compelled him to act - a feeling so strong and enduring not even the madness of war could block it. In the heavy silence of the German forest, where thousands upon thousands met death, that glorious impulse for life is now honored.
[Source: 1-22 Infantry.]
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