Kill or Be Killed: The Eddie Slovik Story

The last soldier to be executed by the United States was Eddie Slovik. He was sentenced to death on November 11, 1944.


“Born down in a dead man’s town
the first kick was when I hit the ground
you end up like a dog that’s been beat too much
til you spend half your life just covering up…..
Born in the U.S.A.”

Bruce Springsteen did not write his 1984 mournful ode to veterans “Born in the U.S.A.” about Eddie Slovik, but he very well could have. On this day in 1945, Slovik became the only American soldier to be executed for desertion since the civil war.

Eddie Slovik was born in 1920 to a poor Polish immigrant family in Detroit, Michigan. He was small, socially awkward, and in constant trouble growing up. He got in trouble for petty crimes like stealing bread, candy, and cigarettes several times. He dropped out of school at age 15, and soon spent time in both jail and reform school. He was sent to prison in 1937…

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