Belgio / Storia

The massacre of Chenogne



Indicazioni stradali

While the Baugnez massacre committed by the SS was widely commemorated, the Chenogne massacre was long forgotten as in this case the victims were German prisoners of war. As the saying goes, history is written by the victors.

On 17 December 1944, the cold-blooded execution of 86 U.S. soldiers taken prisoner at the Baugnez crossroads, just outside Malmedy, by SS soldiers of the Peiper Kampfgruppe was quickly made known to the U.S. army group present on the ground. Very quickly, unofficial orders were circulated to show no mercy towards the Reich‘s toughest elite formations with Waffen-SS and paratroopers in the front. The village of Chenogne, 8 km from Bastogne, was occupied by the German army. The fighting there was extremely violent; the village was taken and retaken at least five times. Of the 32 houses in the village, only one remained intact after the fighting. Only thirteen inhabitants survived; 23 civilians lost their lives in the fighting.

On 1 January 1945, a drama took place. In a way it was a replica of the massacre perpetrated a few days earlier: after a violent night battle, this small village close to Bastogne was cleared of enemy presence by the men of the US 11th Armored Division. These were liquidated. The day before, some of their officers told them not to take prisoners. As soon as they were pulled out of the cellars where they were hiding, about twenty Wehrmacht soldiers (elements of the Führerbegleitbrigade and the 3rd Panzergrenadier-Division) were shot without warning, despite their pleas for surrender. A few minutes later, about 60 of their comrades, divided into two groups, were shot by machine guns in a field near the village. Informed of what was indeed a war crime, the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, ordered an investigation.

However, the officers of the US 11th Armored Division stalled the matter, supported by General Patton. The affair remained like that: nobody was prosecuted, and the events were covered up for decades.