During the Battle of the Bulge, Waffen SS soldiers shot 84 American prisoners near the Belgian town of Malmedythe deadliest mass execution of U.S. soldiers during World War II. The bloody deeds of December 17, 1944, produced the most controversial war crimes trial in American history. Drawing on newly declassified documents, Steven Remy revisits the massacreand the decade-long controversy that followedto set the record straight.
After the war, the U.S. Army tracked down 74 of the SS men involved in the massacre and other atrocities and put them on trial at Dachau. All the defendants were convicted and sentenced to death or life imprisonment. Over the following decade, however, a network of Germans and sympathetic Americans succeeded in discrediting the trial. They claimed that interrogatorssome of them Jewish émigréshad coerced false confessions and that heat of battle conditions, rather than superiors’ orders, had led to the shooting. They insisted that vengeance, not justice, was the prosecution’s true objective. The controversy generated by these accusations, leveled just as the United States was anxious to placate its West German ally, resulted in the release of all the convicted men by 1957.
The Malmedy Massacre shows that the torture accusations were untrue, and the massacre was no accident but was typical of the Waffen SS’s brutal fighting style. Remy reveals in unprecedented depth how German and American amnesty advocates warped our understanding of one of the war’s most infamous crimes through a systematic campaign of fabrications and distortions.
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About the Author
Steven P. Remy is Associate Professor of History at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York.
Table of Contents
Introduction: An American Courtroom in Dachau 1
1 The Commitments of a Bad Reputation: Terror War in the Ardennes 5
2 Now It Comes Home to Us: Creating the "Malmedy Massacre" 26
3 Like a Division Reunion: Launching the Investigation 44
4 The Psychological Approach: American Interrogators 59
5 Nazi Method Boys: The First Torture Allegations 82
6 A Monstrous Slaughter Machine: The Prosecution's Case 91
7 Entirely a Heat of Battle Case: The Defense 108
8 Other Battlefields: Willis Everett and the Amnesty Campaign 127
9 The Sword of Public Opinion: The Torture Stories in the United States 143
10 The Daring Fists of Lieutenant Perl: Tales of Torture in Schwäbisch Hall 161
11 Avenging Angels: German Clergy and the Massacre 180
12 Lie Detectors: Interrogating American Interrogators 213
13 Red Jackets: Releasing the Prisoners 247
Conclusion: Massacres, American Interrogators, and Postwar Memory 273