The famous picture of the German soldier in Ardennes. The desperation shows on the face
WHAT WAS THE PLAN?
An American soldier peers out of the window. Below lies a dead German soldier
A German APC vehicle moves. In the background is the ruin of a M 10 American tank.
American soldiers move. America lost many soldiers in the Ardennes Offensive
The caterpillar tracks of the American tank have come out
American soldiers in winter camouflage clothing. The 101st Division of the American Army was encircled by German troops in Bastogne but they managed to hold it
These Germans have surrendered
American troops get dry rations
Montgomery had tried to get all the credit for halting the Ardennes Offensive. The American generals were livid.
The Malmedy Massacre.
On this day in particular, it is said that Peiper was in a particularly foul mood as his advance had not been as successful or as swift as he had hoped. Though the 1st SS Division had suffered few casualties in terms of manpower, it had lost tanks and half-tracks in its advance as the US 99th Infantry Division had put up a far stronger resistance than Peiper had bargained for. The two tanks that fired on B Battery were under the command of SS Lieutenant Werner Sternebeck. He had lost five of his seven tanks in the advance. Peiper, it seems, was furious at yet more delays to his advance.
Clearly outgunned by the Germans, the men from B Battery surrendered after Sternebeck's attack. Peiper himself went to the Baugnez Crossroads and brusquely ordered Sternebeck to move on. The 113 American prisoners-of-war who had survived the attack were assembled in a field near the Café Bodarwé at the crossroads - this figure included eight Americans who had already been captured by Peiper. A young Belgium boy witnessed what happened next.
At about 14.15, soldiers from the 1st SS Panzer Division opened fire on the 113 men who were in the field. The firing stopped at about 14.30. Soldiers from Peiper's unit went around the field and shot at close range anyone who seemed to be alive - or clubbed them to death as later autopsies showed. Incredibly, some prisoners did get away after feigning death. It was three of these escapees that came across Pergrin.
THE TWO THEORIES ABOUT THE MASSACRE
The men were deliberately murdered in cold blood. Certainly, the 1st SS Panzer Division had been responsible for atrocities in Russia and they had already shot captured Americans in their advance in the Ardennes Offensive - and more were shot after Malmédy. It is possible that Major Werner Poetschke, who commanded the 1st SS Panzer Battalion, gave the order - but no evidence has proved this, just rumour.
Another theory put forward is that some Americans tried to escape and were fired on by the Germans. Other Germans heard the firing, but were not aware that the targets were three Americans as opposed to all of the group. Either trigger-happy or simply battle-hardened, they opened fire on the group as a whole. In October 1945, an American soldier made a sworn testimony that he had escaped with two other men (who were killed) but he had survived and made it back to US lines. The law as it stood then would have allowed the Germans to shoot at escaping prisoners - but not at the whole group. It is possible that their escape precipitated the shooting of the other men.
In January 1945 after it was all over; German POWS carry the body of an American soldiers