Hermann Langer died on Friday, June 21st, 2013
On December 17, 1944, the second day of the Battle of the Bulge, Hermann Langer was 12 years old.
After being separated from their unit and walking through the forest, between 15 and 16 hours, a group of 11 American black GI's crossed the meadow in the direction of the Langer's house. One of them held a white flag and only two of them had a rifle. They were wet, hungry, desperate and visibly worn out. In the farm, they got something to eat and Mathias Langer tried to make them understand that a small way (trail), at the back of the house, was a way to lead them to Meyerode.
They had not finished eating when a bunch of SS emerged from a car. The black Americans quickly left the house with their hands up and were commanded to stay in a line in front of the house. Later, they had to sit down on the wet soil of a slope, along the path at the back of the house. They shivered and Mathias Langer suggested the shelter of a hanger. Strict refusal of the SS. "They will feel warm when they'll run in front of our car" they said. Hermann saw a German shaking his head reproachful.
Before dark, the prisoners got the order to run in front of the car. After ca 1 km away, they were tortured and massacred in a small path.
Soon Wereth sat in the area of the combats and everyone entrenched oneself.
On Dec. 26, an airplane, flying low, left a bomb in front of the Langer's house. Herman, 12 Years old then got wounded as well as his brother Leo (9) and two of his sisters (6 month and 17 years).
Plenty of snow began to fall and covered the bodies of the victims. Herman thought first the bodies were taken away but on the first day of February, the first time he went to church after the combats, he saw them, partly uncovered by the melting snow. And for all his life, the faces of these soldiers remain in his mind.
Fifty years later, Hermann erected a small stone cross on the exact spot where the eleven black GI's lost their life. Making this, he never wanted to be honored or well-known, no. Hermann's issue, unlike some other, was to pay tribute to these soldiers he and his family met in December 1944 and to inform young people about dictatorship and tyranny.
At this time, joking with his brother in law, he said: "I will be very surprised if, one day, an American came here to see this cross. Who knows, maybe, if one comes, he would give us a Chicklet like the GI's did in 1944!"
Hermann, you don't receive a Chicklet today, but much more: you receive the recognition from the 11 families which children finally emerge from obscurity. Now, more and more people, American and from other nations, are coming to your monument to pay tribute to all African-American Soldiers who gave their youth and their life for our liberty and they say:
Thank you so much, Hermann.
Rest in peace.
God bless you, God bless your family.
Hermann Langer repose au cimetière de Hauset (Belgique)
Hermann Langer's final resting place is at his hometown cemetery in Hauset (Belgium)
Hermann Langer's letzte Ruhestätte befindet sich auf dem Friedhof in seinem Wohnort Hauset (Belgien)