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The Chenogne massacre refers to the war crime committed on New Year's Day, January 1, 1945 where several dozen German prisoners of war were slaughtered by American forces near the village of Chenogne (also spelled "Chegnogne"), Belgium, apparently in retaliation for the Malmedy massacre.

Accounts of the massacre

On December 17, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, German Waffen-SS troops killed American prisoners in the Malmedy massacre. Word of this spread rapidly among American forces[1], and caused great anger. One American unit issued orders that, "No SS troops or paratroopers will be taken prisoners but will be shot on sight."[2] In this atmosphere there are claims that American forces killed German prisoners as retribution.

Author Martin Sorge writes, "It was in the wake of the Malmedy incident at Chegnogne that on New Year's Day 1945 some 60 German POWs were shot in cold blood by their American guards. The guilty went unpunished. It was felt that the basis for their action was orders that no prisoners were to be taken."[3][4] An eyewitness account by John Fague of B Company, 21st Armored Infantry Battalion, of battle near Chenogne describes the killing of German prisoners by American soldiers. "Some of the boys had some prisoners line up. I knew they were going to shoot them, and I hated this business.... They marched the prisoners back up the hill to murder them with the rest of the prisoners we had secured that morning.... As we were going up the hill out of town, I know some of our boys were lining up German prisoners in the fields on both sides of the road. There must have been 25 or 30 German boys in each group. Machine guns were being set up. These boys were to be machine gunned and murdered. We were committing the same crimes we were now accusing the Japs and Germans of doing."[5]

On the other hand, an official history promulgated by the United States government states that while "it is probable that Germans who attempted to surrender in the days immediately after the 17th ran a greater risk" of being killed than earlier in the year, even so, "there is no evidence... that American troops took advantage of orders, implicit or explicit, to kill their SS prisoners."[2].

References

  1. Scrapbookpages (2006). "Malmedy Massacre Trial". Dachau Trials. scrapbookpages.com. http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauTrials/MalmedyMassacre02.html. Retrieved 2006-06-03. A website with photographs and histories of many places and people related to the Holocaust. Author name is not obvious on the site. No date listed on the web page, so 2006 is inferred.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cole, Hugh M. (1965). "Chapter XI. The 1st SS Panzer Division's Dash Westward, and Operation Greif". The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge. Washington, D.C., USA: Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army. pp. 261–264. Template:LCCN. http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/7-8/7-8_11.htm. Retrieved 2006-06-03. This book is an official US military history of the Battle of the Bulge. Footnote 5 on page 264 reads, Thus Fragmentary Order 27. issued by Headquarters, 328th Infantry, on 21 December for the attack scheduled the following day says: "No SS troops or paratroopers will be taken prisoners but will be shot on sight."
  3. Sorge, Martin K. (1986-07-23). The Other Price of Hitler's War : German Military and Civilian Losses Resulting From World War II. Greenwood Press. p. 147. ISBN 0-313-25293-9. "It was in the wake of the Malmedy incident at Chegnogne that on New Year's Day 1945 some 60 German POWs were shot in cold blood by their American guards. The crime went unpunished. It was felt that the basis for their action was orders that no prisoners were to be taken (Gallagher 1964, 98)." Quote is verifiable using Amazon.com's "search within the book" feature, and is also cited in [Scrapbookpages 2006]. Sorge appears to be quoting [Gallagher 1964].
  4. Gallagher, Richard (1964-01-01). The Malmedy Massacre. New York: Paperback Library. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0007ED54W/. Retrieved 2006-06-03.
  5. Fague, John (2006). "B Company 21st AIB". Thunderbolt Unit Histories. The 11th Armored Division Association. http://www.11tharmoreddivision.com/history/21st_aib_b_company.htm. Retrieved 2006-06-03. This is a first-person account of the author's combat experience in the Battle of the Bulge between December 29, 1944 and January 24, 1945. Publication date isn't specified, so 2006 is inferred.
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