On December 17, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, soldiers from the Waffen-SS gunned down 84 American prisoners at the Baugnez crossroads near the town of Malmedy. When news of the killings spread among American forces, it aroused great anger among frontline troops.
In addition to killing military prisoners of war, many civilians were executed by the Germans, and others died during the fighting in their towns and villages. By some accounts, more Belgian civilians died during the Battle of the Bulge than in the previous four years.
Hitler gave the SS an oath or right to eliminate anyone that was against the State or Nazi party. Even the regular German Army feared the SS. Most prisoners of war were sent to permanent prison camps. Our group was sent to labor camps which proved to be an unbelievable experience.
Eventually, they relented and put tens of thousands of enemy prisoners to work, assigning them to canneries and mills, to farms to harvest wheat or pick asparagus, and just about any other place they were needed and could work with minimum security. About 12,000 POWs were held in camps in Nebraska.
SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Otto Skorzeny was one of the most celebrated and feared commandos of World War II. Daring operations such as the rescue of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and missions behind enemy lines during the Battle of the Bulge made him known as “the most dangerous man in Europe.”
In World War II, the Germans reserved their best POW treatment for captured men from America, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
From among the Americans' peak strength of 610,000 troops, there were 89,000 casualties, including about 19,000 killed. The "Bulge" was the largest and bloodiest single battle fought by the United States in World War II and the third-deadliest campaign in American history.
One conflict that stood out was the six-week Battle of the Bulge, which took place in Europe and began 76 years ago this month, in December 1944. It was waged in harsh, wintry conditions — about 8 inches of snow on the ground and an average temperature of 20 degrees Fahrenheit (about minus 7 C.)
At least initially, Germans regarded British and American soldiers (especially Americans) as somewhat amateurish, although their opinion of American, British, and Empire troops grew as the war progressed. German certainly saw shortcomings in the ways the Allied used infantry.
Approximately three million German prisoners of war were captured by the Soviet Union during World War II, most of them during the great advances of the Red Army in the last year of the war. The POWs were employed as forced labor in the Soviet wartime economy and post-war reconstruction.
After World War II, German prisoners were taken back to Europe as part of a reparations agreement. They were forced into harsh labor camps. Many prisoners did make it home in 18 to 24 months, Lazarus said. But Russian camps were among the most brutal, and some of their German POWs didn't return home until 1953.
The minimum pay for enlisted soldiers was $0.80 a day (U.S. $12.40 in year 2022), roughly equivalent to the pay of an American private. In 1943 the government estimated that prisoner labor cost 50 to 75% of normal free labor.
In general, the depiction of the battle was inaccurate. The only thing accurate about the movie was the scale of the American victory and the German defeat. It is estimated that only one-third of the Panzers involved in the battle escaped the battlefield..
One particularly effective German trick was the use of English-speaking German commandos who infiltrated American lines and, using captured U.S. uniforms, trucks, and jeeps, impersonated U.S. military and sabotaged communications.
BATTLE OF THE BULGE: Veterans recall bitter cold, eating snow to survive. American infantrymen of the 290th Regiment move through fresh snowfall as they advance against German troops in a forest near Amonines, Belgium, on January 4, 1945. Army Staff Sgt.
The Germans would race through the Ardennes, cross the Meuse river, seize the vital port and supply hub of Antwerp, split the British and Canadian armies in the north from the American armies in the south, and then isolate and devour them piecemeal.
In all, according to the U.S. Department of Defense, 1 million-plus Allied troops, including some 500,000 Americans, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, with approximately 19,000 soldiers killed in action, 47,500 wounded and 23,000-plus missing.
The Americans suffered some 75,000 casualties in the Battle of the Bulge, but the Germans lost 80,000 to l00,000. German strength had been irredeemably impaired.
While the Allies suffered some 75,000 casualties, Germany lost 120,000 men and stores of matériel that it could ill afford to replace. Germany had thus forfeited the chance of maintaining any prolonged resistance to a resumed Allied offensive.
Unprepared for coping with so many captured European prisoners, the Japanese held those who surrendered to them in contempt, especially the women. The men at least could be put to work as common laborers, but women and children were "useless mouths." This attitude would dictate Japanese policy until the end of the war.
The reasons for the Japanese behaving as they did were complex. The Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) indoctrinated its soldiers to believe that surrender was dishonourable. POWs were therefore thought to be unworthy of respect. The IJA also relied on physical punishment to discipline its own troops.
As the Allied liberation of the Philippines was underway, Japanese commanders acted on orders to annihilate American POWs rather than allow them to assist enemy efforts, and in December 1944 cruelly executed 139 American POWs on Palawan.