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WW2 Malmedy Massacre


MickinMD
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During the Battle of the Bulge in Dec. 1944, 80 American soldiers taken prisoner by the Germans were shot down with machine guns in a field near the town of Malmedy., Belgium.

I'm watching a documentary where it's described as one of the most despicable of all war crimes.

But I'll bet every country's soldiers did something similar if they were in a behind-the-lines situation where taking prisoners would slow them down or delay them slipping away to safety.

When Darby's Rangers attacked hundreds of elite Italian troops guarding Sened Pass, Tunisia in February, 1943, the Rangers were told only 10 prisoners would be taken - no more, no less. They were also told to use their bayonets and knives as much as possible: "We want to leave an impression."

After the action was over, Axis Sally - Germany's radio propagandist - called the Rangers "Black Death" and said they would never be taken alive when captured after what they did to the Italians.

Would the Rangers have been tried as war criminals if the Germans had won the war?

They were behind enemy lines and needed to make a fast getaway after the raid into the mountains on a moonless night. Prisoners would probably slow them down and get them killed.

James Altieri, my fathers squad leader, in his book "The Spearheaders," said he passed the "only 10 prisoners" information to his squad and each man (including my father) nodded that he understood.

When F Company hit the rightmost hill guarding the pass. Altieri gives this description - my father NEVER spoke to me about this action even though it was historical as the first modern American Commando Raid:

I could hear the shouts of other Rangers to my right and left and the bloodcurdling screams of Italians as Ranger bayonets found their marks.  There was no time to check my squad to see who was where. The battle was on. Each Ranger knew what his role was.  It was attack and kill everything in front of you.

Now the enemy was screaming. Shrill cries of “Non Fiermati! Non Fiermati!” [Don’t fire!] bleated all around us.  I could tell by the flashes of our own gunfire and the roaring, cursing shouts of Rangers that our entire company was sweeping up the slopes in an unbroken, unremitting line.

Without breaking pace we swarmed over the remaining centers of resistance, grenading, bayoneting, shooting, screaming, cursing, and grunting.  The remaining Italians never had a chance. We worked them over furiously, giving them no quarter.  We had taken all they could throw at us.  Now it was our turn to dish it out. It was sickening, it was brutal, it was inhuman, but that was our job –and we were stuck with it.  Now the sound of [F Company Sgt.] Torbett’s lusty voice could be heard: “Don’t kill ‘em all. We need some prisoners.”

It was war and I'm sure this problem with how to dispose of prisoners when you couldn't do your job with them in tow occurred many, many times and was handled the same way by every country's troops.

 

 

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6 hours ago, ChrisL said:

The winners get to write the history & determine who was right & wrong.

Our history books gloss over the Dresden & Tokyo fire bombings.  Targeting civilians is only a war crime for the losers…

The real problem is determining who is really a civilian.  Is the man assembling bombs to be used on your country really a civilian?  War was never meant to be civilized.

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