History

The defeat of German troops is imminent. Against all expectations, and to the surprise of all, on 16th December Hitler launches a major counter offensive under the codename "Wacht Am Rhein", better known as the Battle of the Ardennes.

 

At dawn on the 17th December, armored vehicles of the 1st SS Panzer Regiment commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Peiper enter our region. The objective of this offensive is to seize bridges over the Meuse River then drive on via Liege to the port of Antwerp.

 

This same day, the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, part of which is under the command of Captain Mills, arrives in Malmedy. Although warned about the presence of German armored vehicles in Bullingen, Mills decides to follow his assigned route; the column therefore takes the N23 in the direction of Baugnez in order to link up with the 7th Armored Division's Combat Command B which was in St. Vith.
The column arrives at the Baugnez crossroads at the same time as the armored spearhead of the Kampfgruppe Peiper .
A violent confrontation then occurs, some vehicles are destroyed whilst others are pushed off the road in order to secure free passage. Mills understands that the situation of his men is desperate, so he takes the decision to surrender.

 

There then follows the infamous "Malmedy Massacre" at Baugnez , in which 84 American prisoners are murdered. The reason for this remains unclear.
This war crime, one of many carried out by the same unit the very same day and following days resulted in a judgement being given at an international military court held in Dachau in 1946.

 

PHOTOgraphS

After the war, a first monument was inaugurated. It would be several years before the present day monument of Baugnez / Malmedy would be erected. It is in memory of the massacre that the “Baugnez 44 Historical Center” has been built on the site of the actual massacre.