The Malmedy Trial

Unidentified Waffen-SS POW
SS-Standartenführer Joachim Peiper
After Germany’s capitulation SS-Standartenführer Joachim Peiper was imprisoned and humiliated. He was wrongly accused of having ordered the execution of U.S. POWs at Malmedy during the Ardennes Offensive. Officers and non-commissioned officers of SS-Kampfgruppe Peiper were all physically abused. The prisoners were informed that if they did not sign the required confessions, their families would be handed over to the Soviets. The discovery of this inhumanity was later reported to Washington DC. The senate of the USA proceeded to investigate the case. This investigation took place after the verdicts had been handed down. The prosecutions star witness, Sergeant Ahrens (U.S. Army) was later uncovered having been giving false testimony on which basis dozens of men had been executed. Colonel Ellis, the prosecuting attorney said that he personally did not believe in the accusations. Major Hal McCown (former prisoner of Peiper) of the 30th Infantry Division came to the Malmedy Trial to testify about Peiper's honorable treatment of the American prisoners in Stoumont. Nevertheless Peiper offered himself and accepted any and all responsibility for whatever any of his men had been accused of - whether true or untrue. Although the court could not prove that he had ordered the killings, Joachim Peiper was sentenced to death together with 42 other defendants. External link: Malmedy War Crimes Trials, Dachau, Germany, June 20 1946. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), 111 ADC 6052. Left image: Still of Joachim Peiper from Mythos Malmedy. Right image: Waffen-SS prisoner of war mistreated by American soldiers of 3rd US Army. The soldier was suspected of having taken part in the Malmedy massacre. Photo U.S. National Archives. Fair use.


  1. Anonymous14/2/13

    The American Senator Joseph McCarthy, in a statement given to the American Press on May 20th, 1949, drew attention to cases of torture to secure confessions. In the prison of Schwäbisch Hall officers of the SS Leibstandarte were flogged until they were soaked in blood, after which their sexual organs were trampled on as they lay prostrate on the ground. On the basis of such confessions extorted.

  2. Ivar the Boneless23/1/18

    The British Director of counter-espionage Guy Liddell echoed the view that Nuremberg had a damaging whiff of hypocrisy: One cannot escape the feeling that most of the things the 21 are accused of having done over a period of 14 years, the Russians have done over a period of 28 years. This adds considerably to the somewhat phoney atmosphere of the whole proceedings and leads me to the point which in a way worries me most, namely that the court is one of the victors who have framed their own charter, their own procedure and their own rules of evidence in order to deal with the vanquished.