some of Peiper's subordinates accepted the killing of prisoners as a command and that on at least one occasion Peiper himself gave such an order. Why Peiper's command gained the bestial distinction of being the only unit to kill prisoners in the course of the Ardennes is a subject of surmise. Peiper had been an adjutant to Heinrich Himmler and as a battalion commander in Russia is alleged to have burned two villages and killed all the inhabitants. The veteran SS troops he led in the Ardennes had long experience on the Eastern Front where brutality toward prisoners of war was a common-place. On the other hand Peiper's formation was well in the van of the German attack and was thus in position to carry out the orders for the "wave of terror" tactic-which might be excused, or so Peiper claimed, by the rapid movement of his kampfgruppe and its inability to retain prisoners under guard.
The speed with which the news of the Malmedy massacre reached the American front-line troops is amazing but, in the perfervid emotional climate of 17 December, quite understandable. The first survivors of the massacre were picked up by a patrol from the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion about 1430 on that date. The inspector general of