Chenogne massacre

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Chenogne Massacre
Locationnear Chenogne, Luxembourg, Belgium
Coordinates49°59′31″N 5°37′05″E / 49.992°N 5.618°E / 49.992; 5.618Coordinates: 49°59′31″N 5°37′05″E / 49.992°N 5.618°E / 49.992; 5.618
DateJanuary 1, 1945
Attack type
Mass murder
Deaths80 Wehrmacht soldiers
Perpetrators11th Armored Division (US Army)

The Chenogne massacre was a war crime alleged to have been committed by members of the 11th Armored Division, an American combat unit, near Chenogne, Belgium, on January 1, 1945 (shortly after the Malmedy massacre), during the Battle of the Bulge.

According to eyewitness accounts, an estimated 80 German prisoners of war were massacred by their American captors: the prisoners were assembled in a field and shot with machine guns. It was one of several war crimes which were, or are alleged to have been, committed during the Battle of the Bulge by members of both Allied and Axis forces.[citation needed]

The events were covered up at the time and none of the perpetrators was ever punished. Postwar historians believe the killings were based on senior commanders giving verbal orders that "no prisoners were to be taken".[1]

Background[edit]

On December 17, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, soldiers from the Waffen-SS gunned down 80 American prisoners at the Baugnez crossroads near the town of Malmedy. When news of the killings spread among American forces, it aroused great anger among front line troops. One American unit issued orders: "No SS troops or paratroopers will be taken prisoners but will be shot on sight." [2][3]

At Chenogne, the prisoners of war killed were members of the Führerbegleitbrigade and 3rd Panzergrenadier Division, not SS.[4]

Eyewitness[edit]

S/Sgt. John W. Fague of B Company, 21st Armored Infantry Battalion (of the 11th Armored Division), in action near Chenogne describes American troops killing German prisoners:

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.[5]

Cover-up[edit]

The official postwar 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."[6] 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.[7] But the killing of SS prisoners had become routine at the time for some units. The 90th Infantry Division at the Saar "executed Waffen-SS prisoners in such a systematic manner late in December 1944 that headquarters had to issue express orders to take Waffen-SS soldiers alive so as to be able to obtain information from them".[8]

In July 2018, KQED-FM radio aired an episode of Reveal series called "Take No Prisoners: Inside a WWII American War Crime" in which Chris Harland-Dunaway investigated the Chenogne massacre. According to his sources, US soldiers shot about 80 German soldiers after they had surrendered (roughly one for each killed in the Malmedy massacre).[9]. Harland-Dunaway refers to General George S. Patton's diary in which the latter confirms that the Americans "...also murdered 50 odd German med [sic]. I hope we can conceal this".[10]

According to a declassified file Harland-Dunaway got access to, a soldier named Max Cohen described seeing roughly 70 German prisoners machine-gunned by the 11th Armored Division in Chenogne. Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force General Dwight D. Eisenhower demanded a full investigation, but the 11th Armored were uncooperative, saying "it's too late; the war is over, the units are disbanded." Ben Ferencz, an American lawyer who served as a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal, upon acquainting himself with the declassified report said: "It smells to me like a cover-up, of course."[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sorge, Martin K. (July 23, 1986). The Other Price of Hitler's War : German Military and Civilian Losses Resulting From World War II. Greenwood Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-313-25293-8.
  2. ^ 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., United States: Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army. pp. 261–264. LCCN 65060001. Retrieved June 3, 2006.
  3. ^ Gallagher, Richard (January 1, 1964). The Malmedy Massacre. New York: Paperback Library. Retrieved June 3, 2006.This incident described was from the writing of John Fague.
  4. ^ Schrijvers, Peter (November 4, 2014). Those Who Hold Bastogne: The True Story of the Soldiers and Civilians Who Fought in the Biggest Battle of the Bulge. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 195. ISBN 9780300210125. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  5. ^ Fague, John (2006). "B Company 21st AIB". Thunderbolt Unit Histories. The 11th Armored Division Association. Retrieved June 3, 2006.
  6. ^ 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., United States: Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army. pp. 261–264. LCCN 65060001. Retrieved June 3, 2006.
  7. ^ Bennett, G. H. (2007). Destination Normandy : three American regiments on D-Day. Westport, Conn: Praeger Security International. ISBN 9780275990947. p.78
  8. ^ Schrijvers, Peter. The Crash of Ruin: American Combat Soldiers in Europe During World War II. pp. 79–80.
  9. ^ a b Harland-Dunaway, Chris (July 28, 2018), "Take no prisoners: Inside a WWII American war crime", revealnews.org, Center for Investigative Reporting
  10. ^ Patton, George (January 4, 1945). "George S. Patton Papers: Diaries, 1910–1945; Original; 1944, Oct. 3 – 1945, Feb. 5". Library of Congress. Library of Congress. Retrieved December 31, 2018.