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in the 3d Parachute Division sector. This move was completed by midnight, although a number of tanks and other vehicles were lost to mines and antitank fire while making the turnabout at Losheim. At Lanzerath Colonel Peiper discovered that the 3d Parachute also had failed to punch any sizable hole through the American line, although the 1st SS Panzer Division had taken Krewinkel and so helped the 3d Parachute forward. Irritated by the hours frittered away, Peiper took an infantry battalion, put two of his Panther tanks at the point of the column, and at 0400 attacked toward Honsfeld. Opposition had evaporated. Honsfeld was surprised and taken with ease. [2]


The original route assigned Peiper's kampfgruppe ran west to Schoppen. This was a poor road, bogged with mud from the winter rains, and since the 12th SS Panzer Division had not yet come up Peiper pre-empted the latter's paved route through Bullingen. Also he had been told that there were gasoline stores in Bullingen, and a great deal of fuel had been burned during the jockeying around Losheim. Sure enough, the gasoline was found as predicted. Using American prisoners as labor, the Germans refueled their tanks. They scooped up much other booty here and destroyed a number of artillery planes on a nearby field. When American gunners commenced to shell the village the column was already moving on, although it suffered some casualties. By this time Peiper and his staff believed that the breakthrough was complete; no American troops appeared on the sensitive north flank, and only an occasional jeep scuttled away to the west of the column.


It was between noon and one o'clock of 17 December, on the road between Modersheid and Ligneuville, that the German advance guard ran into an American truck convoy moving south from Malmedy. This was ill-fated Battery B of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion. The convoy was shot up and the advance guard rolled on, leaving the troops to the rear to deal with the Americans who had taken to the woods and ditches. About two hours after, or so the dazed survivors later recalled, the Americans who had been rounded up were marched into a field where, at a signal, they were shot down by machine gun and pistol fire. A few escaped by feigning death, but the wounded who moved or screamed were sought out and shot through the head. At least eighty-six Americans were massacred here. This was not the first killing of unarmed prisoners chargeable to Kampfgruppe Peiper on 17 December. Irrefutable evidence shows that nineteen unarmed Americans were shot down at Honsfeld and fifty at Bullingen. [3]


The Malmedy massacre would have repercussions reaching far wider than one might expect of a single battlefield atrocity in a long and bitter war. This "incident" undoubtedly stiffened the will of the American combatants (although a quantitative assessment of this fact is impossible); it would be featured in the war crimes trials as an outstanding


[2] Ch. VIII.


[3] The massacres perpetrated by Peiper's troops were the subject of a special Congressional investigation: 81st Cong., 1st sess., Report of the Subcommittee on Armed Services, United States Senate, Malmedy Massacre Investigation (dated 13 October 1949). Cf., Records of the War Crimes Branch, USFET, 1946. The postwar SS view of the Malmedy incident is given in Paul Hausser's Waffen-SS im Einsatz (Goettingen, 1953), pp. 242-47