Malmedy Massacre

January 14, 1945Photograph

The German attack against the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division and 99th Infantry Division along the northern shoulder of the bulge was critical to the success of Hitler’s plan to take Antwerp. For eleven days starting on December 16, the 6th Panzer Army repeatedly attacked areas along the Elsenborn Ridge but were unable to push American forces back. In one of the costliest successes of the Ardennes campaign, Allied forces suffered 15,000 casualties holding the line.

On December 17, shortly after the German offensive began, a group from the 6th Panzer Army captured and killed 68 American soldiers near the village of Honsfield. Later that afternoon, they captured another 100 soldiers from the 285th Field Artillery near Malmedy and shot them in a nearby field. News of the massacre spread quickly through the ranks and in retaliation many American units adopted a policy of not taking German prisoners.

Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration

A soldier looks on at a field of American soldiers massacred by the Nazis.