Why were not americans sentenced to death for killing POWs?

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htk
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Why were not americans sentenced to death for killing POWs?

Post by htk » 04 Jul 2013 19:59

[Split from "Joachim Peiper and the Malmedy massacres again"]

Can somebody explain to me why germans where rightfully sentenced by death because they shot POWs and why not americans who
shot german POWs on the same front ??

Rob - wssob2
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Re: Why were not americans sentenced to death for killing PO

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 04 Jul 2013 23:48

Hi htk:

These specifics from the Battle of the Bulge might help - and to help answer your question, I will ask you a series of rhetorical questions.

Before the campaign begins:
Dec 14:
The LSSAH briefing begins at 11AM at Mohnke’s headquarters in a forester’s house in Tondorf. Otto Skorzeny attends. Mohnke tells his commanders that in the upcoming assault, speed is of the essence, and that they must fight with “special brutality and without humane inhibitions…remember the victims of the bombing terror.”

Peiper receives the regimental order from Sixth SS-Panzer Army commander "Sepp" Dietrich that states in part that his task force should proceed with a "a wave of terror and fright," mindful of the terrible suffering of the German people due to the Allied bombing campaign, and that resistance must be "broken by terror."

That evening, Peiper calls his company commanders together for a meeting at his headquarters in Blankenheim. Peiper tells his men that “all scruples and humane feelings shall be thrown overboard” and that in certain situations, no POWs are to be taken.
So here we have the narrative of how an order to behave "ruthlessly" went down the chain of command in the Leibstandarte just before the Ardennes Offensive began.

1) During WWII, were there any international rules in place as to how combatants are supposed to behave?

2) If there are rules of war, is it OK for a commander to order his men to violate them?

3) Is it OK to kill prisoners of war?


On Dec 17, 1944 at the Bagneuz Crossroads
1415 hours (circa): Poetschke’s orders Max Bautner (Third Panzer Engineer Company) and Erich Rumpf (Ninth Panzer Engineer Company) and tank commander Hans Siptroff to open fire. Siptroff orders Pvt. Georg Fleps (33a) to fire on the GIs.

Fleps fires his pistol into the throng of prisoners, killing Medic Corporal Ralph Indelicato as he is bandaging the wounds of PFC Carl Stevens. The force of the bullet forces the driver’s body to topple down the POWs in the rows behind him. Two GIs in the front row run to the back. An American officer shouts out for the POWs to “STAND FAST!!!”
Fleps fires a second shot, killing medical officer 1st. Lt. Carl. R. Guenther. An SS soldier shouts out MACHEN ALLE KAPUTT!! (Kill them all)

The SS troops pour machine gun and rifle fire into the American POWs.

When the firing dies down, SS troops from the “punishment platoon” (strafzug) of the 9th Panzer Engineer Company walk among the bodies. SS 1st One or more of the SS men ask the POWs to speak up, promising medical treatment. Several POWs reply, and are shot to death. Wounded GIs desperately try to control their breathing, worried that the steam from their breath will give them away. The SS engineers wander among the prostrate bodies of the Americans, administering coup de grace shots to the head upon any signs of life.

Hubert Huber, 6th Panzer Company, gets out of his Mark IV tank (#625) and forced Second Lt. Lloyd Iames to hand over his watch and overshoes before shooting him point blank in the head (Tag #63)

The surviving Americans play dead.
Mind you - Jochen Peiper has just left the scene, and his subordinate Poetschke has just passed an order down to kill over 100 surrendered Americans in a field.

1) If one of those Americans attempted to escape, is it OK to kill them all?

2) Is it OK to kill a medic prisoner as he is administering aid to a fellow prisoner?

3) Is it OK to send a squad of men to kill wounded prisoners?

4) Is it OK to use trickery, promising medical aid, to have a prisoner reveal themselves in order to shoot them?

5) Is it OK to order a prisoner to hand over their personal effects before shooting them?

I eagerly await your answers.
Last edited by Rob - wssob2 on 04 Jul 2013 23:49, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why were not americans sentenced to death for killing PO

Post by OpanaPointer » 04 Jul 2013 23:49

htk wrote:[Split from "Joachim Peiper and the Malmedy massacres again"]

Can somebody explain to me why germans where rightfully sentenced by death because they shot POWs and why not americans who
shot german POWs on the same front ??
You have specific cases?
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Re: Why were not americans sentenced to death for killing PO

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 07 Jul 2013 11:53

htk wrote:[Split from "Joachim Peiper and the Malmedy massacres again"]

Can somebody explain to me why germans where rightfully sentenced by death because they shot POWs and why not americans who
shot german POWs on the same front ??
That would not have gone over well at all with either with the American Public or American soldiers. After all that is what the soldiers were supposed to be doing anyway. "Shooting Germans" .So I hope you can see why that POV might have skewed the idea of "equal justice" for the few instances that occurred of POW shootings on either side.

What is more surprising is how "accepted/condoned" the killing of POW's was out in the Pacific. "Pearl Harbor" I guess.

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Re: Why were not americans sentenced to death for killing PO

Post by Penn44 » 07 Jul 2013 14:47

htk wrote:[Split from "Joachim Peiper and the Malmedy massacres again"]

Can somebody explain to me why germans where rightfully sentenced by death because they shot POWs and why not americans who
shot german POWs on the same front ??
According to Frank Buscher's The US War Crimes Trial Program in Germany, 1946-1955, one of the fundamental rationales that led the US to investigate, prosecuted and display German war crimes cases was to educate the Germans on the evils of the Nazi regime and acts committed by the German military in support of that regime. In such a situation the imposing of death sentences certainly helps to relay the seriousness of the crimes.

Despite what some may claim, the US persecuted relatively few German war crimes committed on the battlefield. In addition to concentration camp cases, the most frequent type of war crimes case that the US prosecuted was "flyer cases" which if you read the investigation files were particularly heinous cases and deserved prosecution.

Other than Malmedy, can you think of any cases that the US prosecuted German soldiers of murdering US POWs within the immediate front line area?

If you listen to SS veterans and the monkeys who uncritically worship the Wehrmacht, you would have think that the US prosecuted and executed thousands of German soldiers for war crimes which is NOT true at all. Even the majority of offenders in the flyer cases involved German civilians.

Penn44

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Re: Why were not americans sentenced to death for killing PO

Post by David Thompson » 07 Jul 2013 15:54

We have an open thread on this subject at:

Why Malmedy but not Dachau?
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=198063

so I'm closing this thread as redundant. Please post further comments on this subject to the Malmedy-Dachau thread.

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