On December 17, 1944, during day two of the famous Battle of the Bulge, the worst single massacre of American troops in World War II was unfolding in a frozen field south of Malmedy, Belgium.
The killing of 84 unarmed U.S. GIs is known throughout the world as The Malmedy Massacre. The Americans were executed by one of Adolf Hitler’s most infamous and violent armored divisions. It was a chance meeting on December 17, 1944, between one of Germany's most brutal units and the small group of lightly-armed American soldiers of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion. One that turned historically deadly in just a matter of seconds, beginning with a single pistol shot from the side of the road.
Many of those GIs still alive after the initial firing from German tanks and vehicles were then executed at point blank range by German SS soldiers. Those who survived played dead for hours in the frozen field, located at the crossroads of the village of Baugnez. They held their breath in the cold as their friends were shot. Some 50 Americans were able to escape the mass killing and later several testified against their German killers in war crimes trials. Today, only three of the survivors remain.
Hear their stories of that day and get to know the truth behind the Malmedy Massacre. The only Rhode Island showing before national airing on PBS stations will be held May 5 at 1 p.m. at the historic Jane Pickens Theater in Newport. For tickets janepickens.com/shows/survivors-of-malmedy-december-1944.