Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Slovik, Edward D. (1920–1945)

U.S. Army private, the only U.S. serviceman to be executed for desertion during World War II. Born on 18 February 1920 near Detroit, Michigan, Edward Slovik was classified 4F because of his criminal record but was reclassified as draft-eligible in 1943 because of a manpower shortage. In August 1944, Slovik was sent to France to join the 28th Infantry Division as a replacement.

On 25 August, Slovik and another soldier became separated from their unit and fell in with a Canadian patrol. They spent six weeks with the Canadians before U.S. military police returned Slovik to his original company on 5 October. Slovik told an officer that he was frightened of combat and that he would run away again. Believing his punishment would be the stockade, Slovik deserted the next day. Returning to his unit, he signed a confession of desertion. He was given a chance to clear himself of the charges, but he refused. He was court-martialed on 11 November and sentenced to be executed by firing squad. Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower, believing it was necessary for morale, upheld the sentence, and the execution proceeded on 31 January 1945 near Saint-Marie aux Mines, France. Years later, U.S. President Jimmy Carter officially pardoned Slovik.

Harold Wise


Further Reading
Huie, William Bradford. The Execution of Private Slovik. New York: Dell, 1974.
 

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