Photo Credit: The frozen bodies of U.S. solders lie in a snowy field at Baugnez, near Malmédy. An Army censor has obscured the face of the nearest casualty. Madame Bodarwe’s burned tavern is in the background.
By Nathan N. Prefer The surrender did not begin well. As First Lieutenant Virgil Lary stood in the road next to a snow-covered field just south of Malmédy, Belgium with his hands raised, one of the German tankers poked his head out of the hatch and fired twice at him with his pistol. Lieutenant Lary ducked for cover. The tanker then shot and killed a captain standing nearby. But as more and more of the Americans stood with hands raised, the Germans opened the tank hatches and came out to accept the surrender. One of them said, in perfect English, “First Panzer SS welcomes you to Belgium.” The 1st SS Panzer Regiment had ambushed Battery B, 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion just south of the Baugnez crossroads in Belgium on the afternoon December 17, 1944. Within 10 minutes, Battery B was completely overwhelmed. The events that followed would make the name “Malmédy” synonymous with the single worst massacre of Allied troops in Europe during World War II. The fateful encounter took place on the second day of the Battle of the Bulge, the German Ardennes offensive Operation “Watch-on-the-Rhine” (Wacht-am-Rhein). According to the plan, personally approved and insisted upon by German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, after the way west had been cleared of American defenders by infantry divisions, SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lt. Col.) Joachim “Jochen” Peiper was to dash ahead to the Meuse River and seize crossings there. The 28-year-old Peiper was leading some 5,
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