Scrapbookpages Blog

April 2, 2016

Otto Skorzeny, once nicknamed “the most dangerous man in Europe”

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:39 am

The title of my blog post today comes from the words in a comment by one of the regular readers of my blog.

The words in a comment by Tim are quoted below:

Begin quote

I got a question(actually two questions) It’s off the subject . Anybody that knows of this,feel free to jump in. Otto Skorzen. He was one of hitlers most favored ss men. Heard he went to work for the Mossad. It said he told Wiesenthal he’d go to work for them,if Wiesenthal tore up the arrest warrant he had on him for war crimes . I don’t know what his “crimes” were,but if the hebs put out the arrest warrant,I’m guessing it had something to do with the holo. He was put on trial at the end of WW2 ,by the Americans,for something unrelated to the holo. He became a contract killer for mossad. I don’t care if you’re a hired gun for mossad or you worked at one of the units in the nazi prison system . Murder is murder. Yet this guy is handed a “get out of jail free card”,because he becomes a killer for Israel .So what’s up here ? You’re going to be arrested for crimes involving the holo,but if take out marked people for Israel,they’ll turn a blind eye to your past transgressions ? I’m beginning to think they weren’t to overly concerned with getting justice for the Jews . How many other nazis did the Jews let skate,because they went to work for them? I know Israel had their own hit people. What. Did they feel like God having a former ss man under their thumb. They pull shit like this,don’t bang on my door looking to borrow a cup of sympathy.

End of Comment by Tim

Otto Skorzeny

Otto Skorzeny

I have written at length about Skorzeny on my website. The words below are from my website:

In another Dachau [trial] proceeding, which began in August 1947, Lt. Col. Otto Skorzeny and nine others were charged as war criminals for the illegal use of US Army uniforms and with killing more than 100 Prisoners of War during the Battle of the Bulge. Lt. Col. Rosenfeld was also the law member of the panel of judges in this proceeding, but this time he allowed defense testimony that US troops had worn German uniforms in combat during World War II in similar efforts to confuse the enemy.

An affidavit from the Malmedy Massacre proceeding was introduced by the prosecution in the Skorzeny case, and when the defense protested, Lt. Col. Rosenfeld dropped the charges of killing POWs. There were no corroborating witnesses for the killings, and Rosenfeld ruled that the case could not be tried on affidavits alone.

This was an important ruling because in all the war crimes military tribunals conducted in Germany after World War II, witnesses were not required to appear in person and affidavits were allowed to be entered, so that the defense had no opportunity to cross-examine the person who signed the affidavit.

Otto Skorzeni

Otto Skorzeni

Otto Skorzeny, shown in the photo above, was acquitted after the presiding judge allowed testimony that the American military had committed the same crime of wearing enemy uniforms during the Battle of the Bulge. Although he was acquitted, Skorzeny was still held in prison after the verdict; he finally escaped and fled to South America.

In the first few days of the Battle of the Bulge, there was mass confusion caused by a team of 28 Germans dressed in American uniforms, led by the famous commando Otto Skorzeny. Riding in stolen American jeeps, they created havoc by directing American troops down the wrong road, changing signposts and cutting telephone wires to General Bradley’s field headquarters. Four of the team were captured and when they confessed their mission, the American army immediately broadcast the news that there were thousands of Germans operating behind enemy lines. Skorzeny and his men were later brought before the American military tribunal at Dachau in another proceeding.

Although there was an automatic review process in which American military personnel reviewed all the Dachau proceedings, there was no appeal process for war crimes verdicts handed down by the American military court. This did not seem fair to Everett, who was a southern gentleman from a prominent family in Atlanta, GA. Everett prepared a 228-page analysis of the pre-trial interrogations and the trial, which he sent to the officers who would be conducting the automatic review of the case. This report included the accusations against the prosecution interrogators.

When 12 of the death sentences were upheld by the review board, including that of Col. Jochen Peiper, Everett decided to petition the US Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus on the grounds that the 73 accused were being illegally held in Landsberg prison after being convicted as a result of “illegal and fraudulently procured confessions.”

When the news of Everett’s charges, that the Malmedy Massacre accused had been forced to sign confessions, was leaked to the media, the American public was outraged. World War II was “the Good War” in which Americans fought for their democratic ideals and their freedom. The Malmedy Massacre case had made a mockery of the rights of the accused to a fair trial. This was not the American way. American soldiers had fought and died to preserve this freedom.

When the case came to the attention of Secretary of the Army Kenneth C. Royall, he ordered a stay of execution for the 12 men who were scheduled to be hanged in just a few days, and then directed General Lucius D. Clay, the highest authority of the American occupation in Germany to investigate Everett’s charges against the prosecution. Not satisfied with that, Royall then appointed a three-man commission, headed by Judge Gordon Simpson of the Texas Supreme Court, to investigate not only the Malmedy Massacre case, but other Dachau proceedings, which had involved the same Jewish interrogators. The other two members of the commission were Judge Edward L. Van Roden and Lt. Col. Charles Lawrence, Jr.

After a six-week investigation conducted from an office which they set up in Munich, the Simpson Commission made its recommendation to Royall. The Commission had looked at 65 mass trials of German war criminals in which 139 death sentences had been handed down. By that time, 152 German war criminals tried at Dachau had already been executed.

The 139 men who were still awaiting execution were staff members of the Dachau concentration camp, SS soldiers accused of shooting POWs at Malmedy and German civilians accused of killing Allied pilots who were shot down on bombing missions over Germany. On January 6, 1949, they recommended that 29 of these death sentences, including the 12 death sentences in the Malmedy Massacre case, be commuted to life in prison.

In February 1949, an article entitled “American Atrocities in Germany,” which was allegedly written by Judge Van Roden, was published in The Progressive. In his article, Van Roden wrote as follows:

American investigators at the U. S. Court in Dachau, Germany, used the following methods to obtain confessions: Beatings and brutal kickings. Knocking out teeth and breaking jaws. Mock trials. Solitary confinement. Posturing as priests. Very limited rations. Spiritual deprivation. Promises of acquittal. Complaints concerning these third degree methods were received by Secretary of the Army Kenneth Royall last Spring (1948).

The statements which were admitted as evidence were obtained from men who had first been kept in solitary confinement for three, four, and, five months. They were confined between four walls, with no windows, and no opportunity of exercise. Two meals a day were shoved in to them through a slot in the door. They were not allowed to talk to anyone. They had no communication with their families or any minister or priest during that time.

This solitary confinement proved sufficient in itself in some cases to persuade the Germans to sign prepared statements. These statements not only involved the signer, but often would involve other defendants. Our investigators would put a black hood over the accused’s head and then punch him in the face with brass knuckles, kick him, and beat him with rubber hose. Many of the German defendants had teeth knocked out. Some had their jaws broken.

All but two of the Germans, in the 139 cases we investigated, had been kicked in the testicles beyond repair. This was Standard Operating Procedure with American investigators. Perl admitted use of mock trials and persuasive methods including violence and said the court was free to decide the weight to be attached to evidence thus received. But it all went in.

Read more at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauTrials/MalmedyMassacre04.html

July 8, 2014

“the Wereth 11” get new honors, as German SS soldiers in WW2 are accused of “what was undeniably a war crime”

Filed under: Germany, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:53 am

Update July 21, 2014:   The War Heroes TV channel (formerly the Military Channel) had a story today about the Wereth 11, the black heroes, who were tortured and killed by German soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge.

Continue reading my original post:

A reader of my blog recently mentioned “the Wereth 11” in a comment. I had never heard of “the Wereth 11,” so I had to look it up on the Internet.  I discovered that “the Wereth 11” was a group of 11 African American soldiers who were fighting in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. After deserting from the battlefield, they had walked 10 miles to Wereth, a hamlet in Belgium, where they hid out, safe from the worst battle of World War II. You can read their story at http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/07/wereth-black-soldiers-battle-of-bulge-army-world-war-ii-history/3465059/

The Wereth 11 now has a Facebook page, where you can read all about these heroes who were gunned down by German soldiers in wartime.  There is also a resolution that has been introduced into the US Congress (H. Con. Res. 68) to recognize the service and sacrifice of these 11 American soldiers.  You can read about it here.

The hamlet of Wereth in Belgium

The hamlet of Wereth in Belgium (Click to enlarge)

This website gives the story from the point of view of the African-American soldiers:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/07/wereth-black-soldiers-battle-of-bulge-army-world-war-ii-history/3465059/

This is the story, as told by a former African-American soldier:

The unit was decimated. “We were all either killed or captured,” said George Shomo, 92, a veteran of the 333rd who lives in Tinton Falls, N.J.

Eleven members of the 333rd managed to escape. For hours, they trudged through waist-deep snow, staying away from roads and hoping to avoid German patrols. They carried only two weapons.

Exhausted and hungry, the men stumbled upon the tiny Belgian farming hamlet of Wereth shortly before dusk. They were waving a white flag, recalls Tina Heinrichs-Langer, who at the time was 17 years old.

Tina’s father, Mathias Langer, didn’t hesitate to offer help. He invited the men into his home, seating them at the family’s rustic kitchen table, where he gave the grateful soldiers hot coffee and bread.

Harboring the Americans was a risky move for the Langer family. Wereth was a town of divided loyalties. It had been part of Germany before World War I, and some of its residents still identified themselves as German.

But Mathias Langer was unwavering in his support of the Allies. He hid deserters from the German army and sent his own sons away to avoid having them conscripted.

There is a recent documentary film about “the Wereth 11,” which you can read about here.

This quote is from the link above:

Titled The Wereth Eleven, and of course based on a true story, it’s described as…

… an epic docudrama… that retraces the steps of the 11 soldiers of the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion who escaped The 18th Volksgrenadiers after their unit was overrun at the start of the Battle of the Bulge. Their 10-mile trek from their battery position to Wereth, Belgium led them to refuge with a Belgian family until a Nazi sympathizer revealed their presence to an SS Reconn Patrol. The soldiers surrendered, but were taken to a field, where they were tortured, maimed, and shot on Dec. 17, 1944. The killings were investigated, but never prosecuted.

Wait a minute!  German soldiers “tortured, maimed and shot” African American soldiers, but these German soldiers were “never prosecuted.” Unmöglich!

I quickly got out my copy of the book entitled Justice at Dachau by Joshua M. Greene.  This book tells all about the war crimes trials that were held at Dachau, by the Americans after World War II.  The “Wereth 11” was not mentioned in this comprehensive book, probably because no one was ever prosecuted for this crime.

A few years ago, I spent a great deal of time studying the war crimes trials at Dachau, and wrote about it on my scrapbookpages.com website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauTrials/MalmedyMassacre03.html

It is very strange, and highly suspicious, that no one was ever put on trial for the torture, maiming and shooting of the “Wereth 11” in Belgium.  These black soldiers had deserted from the Battle of the Bulge and had gone 10 miles from the battlefield to hide in the hamlet of Wereth in Begium. They should have been taken as Prisoners of War by the Germans and given all their rights under the Geneva Convention.

This quote is from my website page about the Malmady Massacre:

Forty-two of the accused [at the Malmedy Massacre trial] were sentenced to death by hanging, including Col. Joaquin Peiper. Peiper made a request through his defense attorney that he and his men be shot by a firing squad, the traditional soldier’s execution. His request was denied. General Sepp Dietrich was sentenced to life in prison along with 21 others. The rest of the accused were sentenced to prison terms of 10, 15 or 20 years.

None of the convicted SS soldiers were ever executed and by 1956, all of them had been released from prison. All of the death sentences had been commuted to life in prison. As it turned out, the Malmedy Massacre proceedings at Dachau, which were intended to show the world that the Waffen-SS soldiers were a bunch of heartless killers, became instead a controversial case which dragged on for over ten years and resulted in criticism of the American Occupation, the war crimes military tribunals, the Jewish prosecutors at Dachau and the whole American system of justice.

Before the last man convicted in the Dachau proceedings walked out of Landsberg prison as a free man, the aftermath of the case had involved the US Supreme Court, the International Court at the Hague, the US Congress, Dr. Johann Neuhäusler, a Bishop from Munich, who was a survivor of the Dachau concentration camp, and the government of the new Federal Republic of Germany. All of this was due to the efforts of the defense attorney, Lt. Col. Willis M. Everett.

[…]

The prosecution case hinged on the accusation that Adolf Hitler himself had given the order that no prisoners were to be taken during the Battle of the Bulge and that General Sepp Dietrich had passed down this order to the commanding officers in his Sixth Panzer Army. This meant that there was a Nazi conspiracy to kill American prisoners of war and thus, all of the accused were guilty because they were participants in a “common plan” to break the rules of the Geneva Convention. Yet General Dietrich’s Sixth Panzer Army had taken thousands of other prisoners who were not shot. According to US Army figures, there was a total of 23,554 Americans captured during the Battle of the Bulge.

[…]

Patton’s Army was accused of several incidents in which German prisoners of war were shot, which he admitted in his autobiography. Patton wrote the following entry in his diary on 4 January 1945:

“The Eleventh Armored is very green and took unnecessary losses to no effect. There were also some unfortunate incidents in the shooting of prisoners. I hope we can conceal this.”

In another incident involving the shooting of German and Italian Prisoners of War, an American captain was acquitted on the grounds that he had been following the orders of General Patton, who had discouraged American troops from taking prisoners during the landing of the US Seventh Army in Sicily.

Ironically, an incident in which Americans executed German prisoners happened within half a mile of the Dachau courtroom. On April 29, 1945, the day that the SS surrendered the camp at Dachau, American soldiers of the 45th Thunderbird Division of the US Seventh Army lined up surrendered Waffen-SS soldiers against a wall and machine-gunned them down in the SS Training Camp, next to the concentration camp. This was followed by a second incident, on the same day, which happened at a spot very near the courtroom: the killing of SS guards at the Dachau concentration camp after they came down from their guard tower and surrendered with their hands in the air.

A third execution of German soldiers who had surrendered on April 29th, known as the Webling Incident happened in the village of Webling on the outskirts of of the town of Dachau. American soldiers of the 222nd Regiment of the 42nd Rainbow Division executed soldiers of the German Home Guard after they had surrendered. The Home Guard consisted of young boys and old men who were forced into service in the last desperate days of the war to defend their cities and towns.

[…]

After the war, the Germans attempted to bring a list of 369 murder cases, involving US Army soldiers killing German POWs and wounded men, before a German court, but the cases were thrown out. The list of these 369 killings was published in a German newspaper.

So who was really killing Prisoners of War in World War II?

 

January 26, 2011

Keith Olbermann vs. Bill O’Reilly on the Malmédy Massacre

Filed under: TV shows, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:24 am

I know that I am a bit late in blogging about Keith Olbermann, who has been in the news lately, but it took me a while to remember why I stopped watching his TV news commentary on MSNBC, and started watching Bill O’Reilly on Fox News instead.  On his show on June 1, 2006, Olbermann was outraged as he pointed out that Bill O’Reilly had said that it was U.S. troops that had killed German POWs in the Malmédy massacre during World War II.

During an interview with former NATO supreme commander, Wesley Clark, on May 30, 2006, O’Reilly had compared the incident at Malmédy to the alleged killing of 24 Iraqi civilians by U.S. soldiers in Haditha, Iraq.

I looked it up on the Internet and here’s what O’Reilly said:

“In Malmédy, as you know, U.S. forces captured SS forces who had their hands in the air and they were unarmed and they shot them down. You know that. That’s on the record. Been documented.”

On the May 31, 2006 show, O’Reilly changed his story, in response to a viewer who noted that the Malmédy incident was “the other way around.”

This was not the first time that O’Reilly had made this mistake, according to Olbermann. During a previous interview with Wesley Clark, on October 3, 2005, O’Reilly had said essentially the same thing.  On his show, Olbermann had called attention to O’Reilly’s statements, saying, “the victims at Malmédy in December 1944 were Americans, Americans with their hands in the air, Americans who were unarmed.”

Bill O’Reilly is an educated man; he constantly brags about his degree from Harvard, which irritates me to death.  So why would O’Reilly make such a big mistake?  Well, he was a bit mixed up about the Malmédy massacre, but not completely wrong in his accusation that Americans had shot German soldiers who had their hands in the air.

The infamous Malmédy Massacre occurred, during the Battle of the Bulge, at approximately 1 p.m. on December 17, 1944 and the first survivors of the massacre were picked up at 2:30 p.m. on the same day by a patrol of the American 291st Engineer Battalion. The story of an unprovoked massacre, as told by the survivors, was immediately sent to General Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander of the war in Europe, who made it a point to disseminate the story to the reporters covering the battle.

One of the news reporters at the Battle of the Bulge was America’s most famous writer, Ernest Hemingway, who was covering the war for Collier’s magazine. When the gory details of the Malmédy Massacre reached the American people, there was a great outcry for justice to be done. To this day, the Malmédy Massacre is spoken of as one of the worst atrocities perpetrated by the hated Waffen-SS soldiers.

The Inspector General of the American First Army learned about the massacre three or four hours after the first survivors were rescued. By late afternoon that day, the news had reached the forward American divisions.

In his book , entitled “The Ardennes, The Battle of the Bulge,” Hugh Cole wrote the following:

Thus Fragmentary Order 27 issued by Headquarters, 328th Infantry on 21 December for the attack scheduled for the following day says: “No SS troops or paratroopers will be taken prisoners but will be shot on sight.”

In his book called “The Other Price of Hitler’s War: German Military & Civilian Losses Resulting from WW 2,” author Martin Sorge wrote the following regarding the events that took place after the massacre:

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 guilt went unpunished. It was felt that the basis for their action was orders that no prisoners were to be taken.

America had signed the Geneva Convention of 1929, which means that America was required to treat German POWs according to the rules of the convention.  The Geneva Convention did not allow for revenge killings of enemy soldiers.  It did not allow for orders that “no prisoners will be taken.”

O’Reilly was wrong when he said that this war crime happened at Malmédy.  It actually happened at Chegnogne, but it happened because of the so-called Malmédy Massacre.  You have to give O’Reilly credit for knowing about this obscure bit of history.  That’s why I switched from Olbermann to O’Reilly and I never looked back.

I have blogged about the Malmédy Massacre case before, but it bears repeating that America adhered to a double standard regarding war crimes committed in World War II.  The German soldiers involved in the Malmédy Massacre were prosecuted as war criminals, but there were no charges against the Americans who killed the German POWs.  During the proceedings against the Germans who were charged with killing POWs, the defense lawyers were not allowed to mention this. Any of the accused men who inadvertently said anything about American soldiers breaking the rules of the Geneva Convention were promptly silenced and these comments were stricken from the record.

In the Malmédy Massacre proceedings, the prosecution case was based on the accusation that Adolf Hitler himself had given the order that no prisoners were to be taken during the Battle of the Bulge and that General Sepp Dietrich had passed down this order to the commanding officers in his Sixth Panzer Army. This meant that there was a Nazi conspiracy to kill American prisoners of war and thus, all of the accused were guilty because they were participants in a “common plan” to break the rules of the Geneva Convention. Yet General Dietrich’s Sixth Panzer Army had taken thousands of other prisoners who were not shot. According to US Army figures, there was a total of 23,554 Americans captured during the Battle of the Bulge.

The prosecution claimed that General Sepp Dietrich, on direct orders from Hitler himself, had urged the SS men to remember the German civilians killed by the Allied bombing, and to disregard the rules of warfare that were mandated by the Hague Convention of 1907 and the 1929 Geneva convention. This meant that all of the accused were charged with participating in a conspiracy of evil that came from the highest level, the moral equivalent of the Nazi conspiracy to exterminate all the Jews in Europe, which was one of the charges against the major German war criminals at Nuremberg.

An important part of the defense case was based on the fact that the accused men in the Malmédy case were classified as Prisoners of War when they were forced to sign statements incriminating themselves even before they were charged with a war crime. As POWs, they were under the protection of the Geneva Convention of 1929, which prohibited the kind of treatment that the accused claimed they had been subjected to, in order to force them to sign statements of guilt. Article 45 of the Geneva Convention said that Prisoners of War were “subject to the laws, regulations and orders in force in the armies of the detaining powers.” That meant that they were entitled to the same Fifth Amendment rights as American soldiers.

During the Malmédy Massacre case, Lt. Col. Rosenfeld (the law member among the prosecutors) ruled against a defense motion to drop the charges, based on this argument; he said that the Malmédy Massacre accused war criminals had never been Prisoners of War because they became war criminals the moment they committed their alleged acts and were thus not entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention of 1929.

During the Malmedy Massacre proceedings, the prosecution claimed that Lt. Col. Jochen Peiper had instructed his men to fight as they had fought against the Russians, disregarding international law about the treatment of prisoners of war. The defendants testified that they had been instructed to take no prisoners, but they understood this to mean that because they were fighting in a tank unit, they were supposed to send POWs to the rear to picked up by infantry units.

September 11, 2010

“Peiper actually volunteered for classes in torture at Dachau”

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:18 am

The title of this post comes from a quote on a blog which you can read here.  Here is the full quote:

During his SS officer training, Peiper actually volunteered for classes in torture at Dachau inside the infamous Jewish concentration camp.

Joaquim Peiper in his SS dress uniform

Peiper was SS-Standartenführer Joachim Peiper, 1st SS Panzer Division, Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler; he was prosecuted as a war criminal in the infamous Malmédy massacre case.  A caption under a photo on the blog cited above identifies the proceedings against Peiper as “The Nuremberg Trials 1946,” but Peiper was actually prosecuted by an American Military Tribunal  held at the Dachau garrison, next door to the the former Dachau concentration camp.

Tour guides at the Dachau memorial site routinely tell visitors that  prisoners were tortured at Dachau, but neglect to mention which prisoners were tortured. In June 1945, the former Dachau concentration camp became War Crimes Enclosure No. 1 where 30,000 accused German war criminals were held while they awaited trial by the American Military Tribunal. Most of  the Germans were never put on trial, but many of them were tortured at Dachau to obtain confessions before they were prosecuted.

The tour guides also tell visitors that  Dachau had a “School of Terror” where SS men learned how to torture prisoners, but neglect to tell visitors that it was the SS men, who were accused of being war criminals, that were tortured by the American interrogators.

Kurt Framm was accused in the Malmédy Massacre case

The photograph above shows Herbert Rosenstock, an American military interpreter, seated next to 2nd Lt. Kurt Flamm, an SS man, who is answering questions put to him by the prosecutor, Lt. Col. Burton F. Ellis, who is standing. Note the marks on the face of 2nd Lt. Flamm.  It looks like he might have cut himself shaving.  Or maybe he had just come from the torture chamber where he was worked over to prepare him for his testimony.

The Malmédy Massacre, which was the name given to the shooting of 84 American soldiers who had surrendered, took place on December 17, 1944, the second day of the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, during the summer of 1945, the US occupation authorities rounded up over 1,000 former soldiers in the 1st SS Panzer Division and interrogated them. Seventy-five of them were originally charged as war criminals in the Malmédy case.

The accused in the proceedings included General Josef “Sepp” Dietrich, commander of the Sixth Panzer Army, who was a long-time personal friend of Adolf Hitler.   Peiper was the commanding officer of “Kampfgrüppe Peiper,” the armored battle group which spearheaded the German attack in Hitler’s Ardennes Offensive, better known to Americans as the Battle of the Bulge. Peiper’s rank was the equivalent of an American Lt. Col. when he was assigned on December 16, 1944 to lead the tank attack, but after the battle, he was promoted to Colonel. Peiper preferred to be called by his nickname, Jochen, rather than his real first name, Joachim.

One of those who were charged was 18-year-old Arvid Freimuth who committed suicide in his cell before the trial started. Charges were dismissed against Marcel Boltz after it was learned that he was a French citizen; France had made a law that no French citizen could be tried as a war criminal.  That left 73 men who were ultimately prosecuted by the American Military.  America had no law against prosecuting American soldiers who committed war crimes in World War II, but no American “war criminals” were ever prosecuted.

My favorite photo of Joaquim Peiper

The proceedings in the Malmédy Massacre case started on May 12, 1946 and the verdicts were read on July 16, 1946. All of the 73 men on trial were convicted and 42 were sentenced to death by hanging.

None of the convicted SS soldiers were ever executed and by 1956, all of them had been released from prison. All of the death sentences had been commuted to life in prison. As it turned out, the Malmédy Massacre proceedings at Dachau had become a controversial case which dragged on for over ten years, and had resulted in criticism of the American Occupation, the war crimes military tribunals, the Jewish prosecutors and interrogators at Dachau and the whole American system of justice.

Before the last man, who had been convicted in the Dachau proceedings, walked out of the Landsberg am Lech prison as a free man, the aftermath of the case had involved the US Supreme Court, the International Court at the Hague, the US Congress, Dr. Johann Neuhäusler, a Bishop from Munich, who was a survivor of the Dachau concentration camp, and the government of the new Federal Republic of Germany.

The accused SS men claimed that, before the court proceedings, they had already had a trial, which was conducted in a room with black curtains, lit only by two candles. The judge was an American Lt. Col. who sat at a table draped in black with a white cross on it. After these mock trials in which witnesses testified against the accused, each SS man was told that he had been sentenced to death, but nevertheless he would have to write out his confession. When all of them refused to write a confession, the prosecution dictated statements which they were forced to sign under threats of violence.

There was no question that these mock trials had actually taken place, since the prosecution admitted it during the investigation after the Dachau proceedings ended.

According to James J. Weingartner, the author of A Peculiar Crusade: Willis M. Everett and the Malmedy Massacre, Lt. Col. Peiper had presented to the American defense attorney a summary of allegations of abuse made to him by his soldiers. The SS soldiers claimed that they had been beaten by the American interrogators and that one of the original 75 accused men, 18-year-old Arvid Freimuth, had hanged himself in his cell after being repeatedly beaten.

A statement, supposedly written by Freimuth, although portions of it were not signed by him, was introduced during the proceedings as evidence against the other accused. As in the Nuremberg IMT and the other Dachau proceedings, the accused were charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes, as well as with specific incidents of murder, so Freimuth’s statement was relevant to the case, even after he was no longer among the accused himself.

An important part of the defense case was based on the fact that the accused were classified as Prisoners of War when they were forced to sign statements incriminating themselves even before they were charged with a war crime.

As POWs, they were under the protection of the Geneva Convention of 1929, which prohibited the kind of coercive treatment that the accused claimed they had been subjected to in order to force them to sign statements of guilt. Article 45 of the Geneva Convention said that Prisoners of War were “subject to the laws, regulations and orders in force in the armies of the detaining powers.” That meant that they were entitled to the same Fifth Amendment rights as American soldiers.

After being held in prison for an average of five months, the SS  men had been charged as war criminals on April 11, 1946, a little over a month before their case before the American military tribunal was set to begin. By virtue of the charge, they were automatically reduced to the status of “civilian internee” and no longer had the protection of the Geneva Convention.

Lt. Col. Rosenfeld, who was the “law member” of the proceedings against the SS men, ruled against a defense motion to drop the charges; he ruled  that the men, accused in the Malmédy case, had never been Prisoners of War because they became war criminals the moment they committed their alleged acts and were thus not entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention of 1929.

On March 10, 1945, an order signed by General Dwight D. Eisenhower had reduced the status of all German POWs to that of “disarmed enemy forces,” which meant that they were no longer protected under the rules of the Geneva Convention after the war.

Moreover, as the law member of the panel of judges, Lt. Col. Rosenfeld ruled that “to admit a confession of the accused, it need not be shown such confession was voluntarily made….” Contrary to the rules of the American justice system, the German war criminals, who were prosecuted by the American Military Tribunal, were presumed guilty and the burden of proof was on them, not on the prosecution.

The prosecution case in the Malmédy masssacre proceedings hinged on the accusation that Adolf Hitler himself had given the order that no prisoners were to be taken during the Battle of the Bulge and that General “Sepp” Dietrich had passed down this order to all the  commanding officers in his Sixth Panzer Army. This meant that, in the eyes of the Americans, there was a German conspiracy to kill American prisoners of war and thus, all of the accused were guilty because they were participants in a “common plan” to break the rules of the Geneva Convention. Yet General Dietrich’s Sixth Panzer Army had taken thousands of other prisoners who were not shot. According to US Army figures, there was a total of 23,554 Americans captured during the Battle of the Bulge.  The alleged “Hitler order” to kill all the Allied POWs was never found.

The main evidence in the prosecution case was the sworn statements signed by the accused even before they were charged with a war crime, statements which their American defense attorney claimed were obtained by means of mock trials and beatings in violation of the rules of the Geneva Convention of 1929. The war crimes with which they were charged were likewise violations of the Geneva Convention of 1929, a double standard which didn’t seem right to their defense attorney, Lt. Col. Willis M. Everett.

Another double standard that bothered Everett was that there had been many incidents in which American soldiers were not put on trial for killing German Prisoners of War, but the defense was not allowed to mention this. Any of the accused men who inadvertently said anything about American soldiers breaking the rules of the Geneva Convention were promptly silenced and these comments were stricken from the record.  The killing of SS soldiers who had surrendered when the Dachau camp was liberated was unknown at that time because the US Army had kept this a secret for more than 40 years.

Following the defeat of the German Army in World War II, the Judge Advocate Department of the Third US Army had set up a War Crimes Branch which conducted 489 court proceedings in which 1,672 German war criminals were charged. This was apart from the proceedings against the major German war criminals before an International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Most of the secondary proceedings conducted by the American occupation forces were held at Dachau, between November 15, 1945 and 1948.  No Allied soldiers were ever prosecuted for war crimes committed during World War II.

I would like to know what kind of torture methods Peiper learned at Dachau.  Water boarding maybe?  He certainly got a lesson in torture methods when he was a prisoner at Dachau before he was prosecuted by an American Military Tribunal.

The training school at Dachau was for concentration camp administrators; Peiper probably did not take any classes at Dachau, since he had nothing whatsoever to do with the concentration camps.

The photo above shows Lt. Virgil Lary in the courtroom, as he identifies  Pvt. 1st Class Georg Fleps, a Waffen-SS soldier from Rumania, who allegedly fired the first two shots with his pistol in the Malmedy Massacre.

Some versions of the story say that Fleps fired a warning shot in the air when several prisoners tried to make a run for it. Other versions say that he deliberately took aim and shot one of the Americans. Panic ensued and the SS soldiers then began firing upon the prisoners with their machine guns.

The exact number of American soldiers who surrendered to the Germans is unknown, but according to various accounts, it was somewhere between 85 and 125. After the captured Americans were herded into a field, they were allegedly shot down by Waffen-SS men from Peiper’s Battle Group in what an American TV documentary characterized as an orgy, motivated by German “joy of killing.”

Forty-three of the Americans taken prisoner that day managed to escape and lived to tell about it. One of them was Kenneth Ahrens, who was shot twice in the back. Seventeen of the survivors ran across the snow-covered field, and made their way to the village of Malmedy where they joined the 291st Engineer Battalion.

The massacre occurred at approximately 1 p.m. on December 17th and the first survivors were picked up at 2:30 p.m. on the same day by a patrol of the 291st Engineer Battalion. Their story of the unprovoked massacre was immediately sent to General Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander of the war in Europe, who made it a point to disseminate the story to the reporters covering the battle.

The Inspector General of the American First Army learned about the massacre three or four hours after the first survivors were rescued. By late afternoon that day, the news had reached the forward American divisions. In his book , entitled The Ardennes, The Battle of the Bulge, Hugh Cole wrote the following:

Thus Fragmentary Order 27 issued by Headquarters, 328th Infantry on 21 December for the attack scheduled for the following day says: “No SS troops or paratroopers will be taken prisoners but will be shot on sight.”

In his book called The Other Price of Hitler’s War: German Military & Civilian Losses Resulting from WW 2, author Martin Sorge wrote the following regarding the events that took place after the massacre:

“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 guilt went unpunished. It was felt that the basis for their action was orders that no prisoners were to be taken.”