Malmedy Massacre - Peiper Moves On

Peiper Moves On

The opening forced through the American lines by Kampfgruppe Peiper was marked by other murders of prisoners of war, and later of Belgian civilians. Members of his unit killed at least eight other American prisoners in Ligneuville.

New massacres of POWs were reported in Stavelot, Cheneux, La Gleize, and Stoumont, on December 18, 19, and 20. Finally, on December 19, 1944, between Stavelot and Trois-Ponts, German forces tried to regain control of the bridge over the Ambleve river in Stavelot, which was crucial for receiving reinforcements, fuel, and ammunition. Peiper’s men murdered about 100 Belgian civilians.

American Army engineers blocked Peiper's advance in the narrow Amblève River valley by blowing up the bridges. Additional U.S. reinforcements surrounded the Kampfgruppe in Stoumont and la Gleize. Peiper and 800 of his men eventually escaped this encirclement by marching through the nearby woods and abandoning their heavy equipment, including several Tiger II tanks.

On December 21, during the battle around Gleize, the men of Kampfgruppe Peiper captured an American officer, Major Harold D. McCown, who was leading one of the battalions of the 119th Infantry Regiment. Having heard about the Malmedy massacre, McCown personally asked Peiper about his fate and that of his men. McCown testified that Peiper told him neither he nor his men were at any risk and that he (Peiper) was not accustomed to killing his prisoners. McCown noted that neither he nor his men were threatened in any manner, and he testified in Peiper's defense during the 1946 trial in Dachau.

Once re-equipped, Kampfgruppe Peiper rejoined the battle, and other killings of POWs were reported on December 31, 1944, in Lutrebois, and between January 10 and 13, 1945, in Petit Thier. The precise number of prisoners of war and civilians massacred attributable to Kampfgruppe Peiper is still not clear. According to certain sources, 538 to 749 POWs had been the victims of war crimes perpetrated by Peiper's men. These figures are, however, not corroborated by the report of the United States Senate subcommittee that later inquired into the subsequent trial; according to the Committee, the number of dead would be 362 prisoners of war and 111 civilians. According to this report, the count of POWs or civilians killed at different places is as follows:

Place Prisoners of war Civilians
Honsfeld 19
Büllingen 59 1
Baugnez 86
Ligneuville 58
Stavelot 8 93
Cheneux 31
La Gleize 45
Stoumont 44 1
Wanne 5
Trois-Ponts 11 10
Lutrebois 1
Petit Thier 1
Total 362 111

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