Malmedy Massacre Record of Trial:
United States vs. Valentin Bersin et al.
May 16 - July 16, 1946
Following the end of World War II, the attention of the entire world was focused on the proceedings of the International Military Tribunal, which had begun in Nuremberg, Germany, in November 1945, and the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, which had begun in Tokyo, Japan, in April 1946. Both trials saw the countries’ leaders charged with, among other things, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
On May 16, 1946, an equally important, though lesser known, war crimes trial began in a courtroom at the former Dachau concentration camp. A general military government court of seven U.S. Army officers began to try members of Battle Group Pieper (so named after its commander, SS Colonel Joachim Pieper), former Waffen SS soldiers who were accused of murdering 84 American prisoners of war on December 17, 1944 at a road intersection near Malmedy, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge. As survivors of the massacre reached American lines, word of the killings quickly circulated among American troops and steeled their determination to halt the German offensive.
American newspapers and magazines immediately began calling these killings “the Malmedy Massacre,” the name by which these war crimes will forever be known. Army war crimes investigators immediately began collecting evidence, but it was not until mid-January 1945 that the bodies of those killed were recovered and given proper burials.
Following a two-month trial, during which survivors identified many of the accused in court and testified that many wounded Americans had been shot in the head at close range, all 73 of the accused SS soldiers were found guilty on July 11, 1946. For an excellent summary of the trial and its aftermath, see The Malmedy Massacre Trial: The Military Government Court Proceedings and the Controversial Legal Aftermath by Fred L. Borch, III, Regimental Historian and Archivist for the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
Library of Congress Call Number JX5441.D33 M35 1946 TRIALS, OCLC Number 40696546.
*The additional content is a book presented to Ellis F. Burton, Assistant Army Judge Advocate and chief prosecutor on the Malmedy Massacre War Crimes Trial. This book is available in the Library of Congress Law Library Rare Book Room.