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The Malmedy Massacre

Monument à la mémoire des soldats américains à Baugnez.
"Their hatred of the enemy was such that I confess I could not always control them. At Malmédy, there were, without a doubt, some excesses." Joachim Peiper - SS Officer

A war crime in the heart of winter

The Malmedy Massacre, or Baugnez Massacre, was a war crime committed in December 1944 by a German unit, the Kampfgruppe Peiper.

SS officer Joachim Peiper was the leader of this group. His mission was to take the bridges over the Meuse in the vicinity of Huy. Piper managed to follow orders despite a slow start to the campaign because of American troops. Several fatal attacks were reported following the passage of the Kampfgruppe. On December 17, the unit encountered an American convoy at the Baugnez crossroads, a few kilometers south of Malmedy (BE). The German soldiers opened fire, the American soldiers, lacking heavy artillery, were forced to surrender.

During the day, under unclear circumstances, the German soldiers shot the American prisoners, thus committing a war crime. A few survivors managed to escape and reach the Allied lines. However, it was not until January 14, 1945, that the Americans were able to remove the victims’ bodies, which were covered with snow.

Other massacres of American prisoners were reported in the following days. Finally, on December 18 and 19, 1944, the group committed more massacres resulting in the death of over 100 civilians. This event is called the “Malmedy Massacre,” although the town was never reached. The military court in Dachau judged this war crime during a trial held in 1946.

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