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Tue Dec 17, 2019, 07:19 AM

75 Years Ago Today; German soldiers kill 84 American POW's in the Malmedy massacre

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malmedy_massacre


Murdered American soldiers at Malmedy (picture taken on January 14, 1945)

The Malmedy massacre was a war crime committed by members of Kampfgruppe Peiper (part of the 1st SS Panzer Division), a German combat unit led by Joachim Peiper, at Baugnez crossroads near Malmedy, Belgium, on December 17, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge. According to numerous eyewitness accounts, 84 American prisoners of war were massacred by their German captors: the prisoners were assembled in a field and shot with machine guns.

The term Malmedy massacre also applies generally to the series of massacres committed by the same unit on the same day and following days, which were the subject of the Malmedy massacre trial, part of the Dachau Trials of 1946. The trials were the focus of some controversy.

Background
Hitler's main objective for the Battle of the Bulge was for the 6th SS Panzer Army commanded by General Sepp Dietrich to break through the Allied front between Monschau and Losheimergraben, cross the Meuse River, and capture Antwerp. Kampfgruppe Peiper, named after and under the command of SS-Obersturmbannführer Joachim Peiper, was composed of armoured and motorised elements and was the spearhead of the left wing of the 6th SS Panzer Army. Once the infantry had breached the American lines, Peiper's role was to advance via Ligneuville, Stavelot, Trois-Ponts, and Werbomont and seize and secure the Meuse bridges around Huy. The best roads were reserved for the bulk of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler. Peiper was to use secondary roads, but these proved unsuitable for heavy armoured vehicles, especially the Tiger II tanks attached to the Kampfgruppe. The success of the operation depended on the swift capture of the bridges over the Meuse. This required a rapid advance through US positions, circumventing any points of resistance whenever possible. Another factor Peiper had to consider was the shortage of fuel: the fuel resources of the Reich had been greatly reduced since the fall of Romania.

Hitler ordered the battle to be carried out with a brutality more common on the Eastern Front, in order to frighten the enemy. Sepp Dietrich confirmed this during the war crimes trial after the war ended. According to one source, during the briefings before the operation, Peiper stated that no quarter was to be granted, no prisoners taken, and no pity shown towards Belgian civilians.

Peiper advances west
The Germans' initial position was east of the German-Belgium border and the Siegfried Line near Losheim. SS-Oberstgruppenführer Sepp Dietrich's plan was for the Sixth Panzer to advance northwest through Losheimergraben and Bucholz Station and then drive 72 miles (116 km) through Honsfeld, Büllingen, and a group of villages named Trois-Ponts, to connect to Belgian Route Nationale N23, and cross the River Meuse.

Peiper had planned to use the Lanzerath-Losheimergraben road to advance on Losheimergraben immediately following the infantry, who were tasked with capturing the villages and towns immediately west of the International Highway. Unfortunately for the Germans, during their retreat earlier in the year they had destroyed the Losheim-Losheimergraben road-bridge over the railway, which prevented their use of this route. A rail overpass they had planned to use could not bear the weight of the German armour, and German engineers were slow to repair the Losheim-Losheimergraben road, forcing Peiper's vehicles to take the road through Lanzerath to Bucholz Station. Peiper's forces were delayed by massive traffic jams behind the front.

But German military operations on the northern front, the key route for the entire Battle of the Bulge, was troubled by unexpectedly obstinate resistance from American troops. A single platoon of 18 men belonging to an American reconnaissance platoon and four US Forward Artillery Observers held up a battalion of about 500 German paratroopers in the village of Lanzerath, Belgium for almost an entire day. Peiper's entire timetable for his advance towards the River Meuse and Antwerp was seriously slowed, allowing the Americans precious hours to move in reinforcements.

The German 9th Fallschirmjäger Regiment, 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division finally flanked and captured the American platoon at dusk, when they ran low on ammunition and were planning to withdraw. Only one American, a forward artillery observer, was killed, while 14 were wounded: German casualties totalled 92. The Germans paused, believing the woods were filled with more Americans and tanks. Only when Peiper and his tanks arrived at midnight, twelve hours behind schedule, did the Germans learn the woods were empty.

First massacre at Büllingen
At 4:30 on December 17, more than 16 hours behind schedule, the 1st SS Panzer Division rolled out of Lanzerath and headed east for Honsfeld. After capturing Honsfeld, Peiper left his assigned route for several kilometres to seize a small fuel depot in Büllingen, where members of his force killed several dozen American POWs.

Unknown to Peiper, he was in a position to flank the 2nd and the 99th Infantry Divisions: had his troops advanced north from Büllingen towards Elsenborn, they may have been able to flank and trap the American units. But Peiper followed orders. He was more determined to advance west and he stuck to his Rollbahn towards the Meuse River and captured Ligneuville, bypassing Mödersheid, Schoppen, Ondenval, and Thirimont.

The terrain and poor quality of the roads made his advance difficult. Eventually, at the exit of the small village of Thirimont, the spearhead was unable to take the direct road toward Ligneuville. Peiper again deviated from his planned route. Rather than turn left, the spearhead veered right and advanced towards the crossroads of Baugnez, which is equidistant from Malmedy, Ligneuville, and Waimes.

Massacre at Baugnez crossroads
Between noon and 1 pm, the German spearhead approached the Baugnez crossroads, two miles south-east of Malmedy. An American convoy of about thirty vehicles, mainly elements of B Battery of the American 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, was negotiating the crossroads and turning right toward Ligneuville and St. Vith, where it had been ordered to join the 7th Armored Division. The spearhead of Peiper’s group spotted the American convoy and opened fire, immobilising the first and last vehicles of the column and forcing it to halt. Armed with only rifles and other small arms, the Americans surrendered to the German tank force.

The armoured column led by Peiper continued west toward Ligneuville. The German troops left behind assembled the American prisoners in a field along with other prisoners captured earlier in the day. Many of the survivors testified that about 120 troops were standing in the field when, for unknown reasons, the SS troops suddenly opened fire with machine guns on the prisoners.

As soon as the SS machine gunners opened fire, the POWs panicked. Some tried to flee, but most were shot where they stood. Some dropped to the ground and pretended to be dead. SS troops walked among the bodies and shot any who appeared to be alive. A few sought shelter in a café at the crossroads. The SS soldiers set fire to the building and shot any who tried to escape.

Several POWs later testified that a few of the prisoners had tried to escape, and others claimed that some prisoners had picked up their previously discarded weapons and shot at the German troops when they attempted to continue toward Ligneuville.

Massacre revealed
A few survivors emerged from hiding shortly afterwards and returned through the lines to nearby Malmedy, where American troops still held the town. Eventually, 43 survivors emerged, some who had taken shelter with Belgian civilians. The first survivors of the massacre were found by a patrol from the 291st Combat Engineer Battalion at about 2:30 p.m. the same day. The survivors were interviewed soon after they returned to American lines. Their stories were consistent and corroborated each other, although they had not had a chance to discuss the events with each other. The inspector general of the First Army learned of the shootings about three or four hours later. By late evening of the 17th, rumours that the enemy was killing prisoners had reached the forward American divisions.

One US unit issued orders that "No SS troops or paratroopers will be taken prisoner but will be shot on sight." Some American forces may have killed German prisoners in retaliation, like the shooting of German prisoners that took place at Chenogne on January 1, 1945.

Bodies recovered


The bodies are taken to Malmedy, where the autopsies were performed. January 14, 1945

The Baugnez crossroads was behind German lines until the Allied counter-offensive in January. On January 14, 1945, US forces reached the crossroads and massacre site. They photographed the frozen, snow-covered bodies where they lay, and then removed them from the scene for identification and detailed post mortem examinations. The investigation was focused on documenting evidence that could be used to prosecute those responsible for the apparent war crime. Seventy-two bodies were found in the field on January 14 and 15, 1945. Twelve more, lying farther from the pasture, were found between February 7 and April 15, 1945.

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Reply 75 Years Ago Today; German soldiers kill 84 American POW's in the Malmedy massacre (Original post)
Dennis Donovan Dec 17 OP
Boomerproud Dec 17 #1
Mc Mike Dec 17 #2
dalton99a Dec 17 #7
greenjar_01 Dec 17 #3
WhiskeyGrinder Dec 17 #4
Pacifist Patriot Dec 17 #5
WhiskeyGrinder Dec 17 #6
stopbush Dec 17 #8
appalachiablue Dec 17 #9
jcboon Dec 17 #10
appalachiablue Dec 17 #11

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Tue Dec 17, 2019, 07:36 AM

1. R.I.P. The fine actor Charkes Durning was a survivor

after being wounded on D-Day.

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Tue Dec 17, 2019, 08:01 AM

2. Never forget that Tailgunner Joe McCarthy and fellow repug John McCloy made sure

the SS war criminals didn't get punished for this.

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Response to Mc Mike (Reply #2)

Tue Dec 17, 2019, 08:59 AM

7. +1

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Tue Dec 17, 2019, 08:25 AM

3. Dudes thought they were still Im Osten, where this type of shit happened 10 times a day

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Tue Dec 17, 2019, 08:31 AM

4. And the DOD posted a glamor shot of Peiper, produced by a Nazi fan artist, on its FB page yesterday.

Huh.

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Reply #4)

Tue Dec 17, 2019, 08:37 AM

5. I just read the WaPo article about that.

What the everloving fuck was that?! Pardon the language, but this army brat is irate.

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Response to Pacifist Patriot (Reply #5)

Tue Dec 17, 2019, 08:47 AM

6. I don't see how it could be anything else than what it looks like.

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Tue Dec 17, 2019, 10:16 AM

8. The article mentions the Chenogne massacre only in passing.


The Chenogne massacre was a war crime committed by members of the 11th Armored Division, an American combat unit, near Chenogne, Belgium, on January 1, 1945 (shortly after the Malmedy massacre), during the Battle of the Bulge.
According to eyewitness accounts, an estimated 80 German prisoners of war were massacred by their American captors: the prisoners were assembled in a field and shot with machine guns. It was one of several war crimes which were, or are alleged to have been, committed during the Battle of the Bulge by members of both Allied and Axis forces.
The events were covered up at the time and none of the perpetrators were ever punished.

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Tue Dec 17, 2019, 10:35 AM

9. K/R

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Tue Dec 17, 2019, 09:43 PM

11. Were any articles with explanations posted here today? I read

WaPo and another 2 brief pieces.

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