On December 17, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, German Waffen-SS troops gunned down 80 American prisoners in the Malmedy massacre. Word of this spread rapidly among American forces, and aroused great anger. One American unit issued orders: "No SS troops or paratroopers will be taken prisoners but will be shot on sight." In this atmosphere American forces executed 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.
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.
...Going back down the road into town I looked into the fields where the German boys had been shot. Dark lifeless forms lay in the snow. 
Joseph Cummins also relates Fague's account of the killing of about 60 prisoners, but he notes that before the execution of the POWs took place, several Germans including unarmed medics waving red-cross flags, were machine-gunned when trying to surrender. Cummins further connects the massacre with the entry made by General Patton in his diary for January 4, 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."
On the other hand, an official history published 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." However, according to George Henry Bennett and referring to the above statement; "The caveat is a little disingenuous," and he proceeds to note that it is likely the orders to shoot prisoners (given by the 328th Infantry regiment) were carried out, and that other US regiments were likely also given similar orders.
- Cole, Hugh M. (1965). "Footnote 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. LCCN 65060001. Retrieved 2006-06-03.
- 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)..
- Gallagher, Richard (1964-01-01). The Malmedy Massacre. New York: Paperback Library. Retrieved 2006-06-03.This incident described was from the writing of John Fague.
- Fague, John (2006). "B Company 21st AIB". Thunderbolt Unit Histories. The 11th Armored Division Association. Retrieved 2006-06-03.
- Cummins, Joseph (2010). The world's bloodiest history : massacre, genocide, and the scars they left on civilization. Beverly, Mass: Fair Winds Press. ISBN 9781592334025. p.203
- 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. LCCN 65060001. Retrieved 2006-06-03.
- Bennett, G. H. (2007). Destination Normandy : three American regiments on D-Day. Westport, Conn: Praeger Security International. ISBN 9780275990947. p.78