On December 17, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, German Waffen-SS troops killed American prisoners in the Malmedy massacre. Word of this spread rapidly among American forces, and caused great anger. One American unit issued orders that, "No SS troops or paratroopers will be taken prisoners but will be shot on sight." In this atmosphere there are claims that American forces killed German prisoners in retaliation.
Author Martin Sorge writes, "It was in the wake of the Malmedy incident at Chegnogne that on New Year's Day 1945 some 60 German POWs were shot in cold blood by their American guards. The guilt went unpunished. It was felt that the basis for their action was orders that no prisoners were to be taken.",. An eyewitness account by John Fague of B Company, 21st Armored Infantry Battalion, of battle near Chenogne describes the killing of German prisoners by American soldiers. "Some of the boys had some prisoners line up. I knew they were going to shoot them, and I hated this business.... They marched the prisoners back up the hill to murder them with the rest of the prisoners we had secured that morning.... As we were going up the hill out of town, I know some of our boys were lining up German prisoners in the fields on both sides of the road. They must have been 25 or 30 German boys in each group. Machine guns were being set up. These boys were to be machine gunned and murdered. We were committing the same crimes we were now accusing the Japs and Germans of doing."
On the other hand, an official history promulgated by the United States government states that while "it is probable that Germans who attempted to surrender in the days immediately after the 17th ran a greater risk" of being killed than earlier in the year, even so, "there is no evidence... that American troops took advantage of orders, implicit or explicit, to kill their SS prisoners.".