21 December 1944 a German commando unit encountered stiff resistance
from the town’s American defenders, but many troops were killed – as well as
214 civilians – when the town was intensively bombed by the U.S. Air Force on three
successive days, including Christmas Day itself. The reason for this ‘friendly
fire’ miscalculation has been lost in the fog of war. Black marble stones near
the cathedral commemorate the Belgian dead.
Four kilometres from Malmedy, at Baugnez, an American column was forced to surrender after a fierce firefight with a German Panzer Regiment. Shortly afterwards, 84 American prisoners were murdered in what became known as ‘The Malmedy Massacre’. The Baugnez 44 Historical Centre, a museum commemorating the battle in this region, lies on the exact spot of the massacre, one of several carried out by the same German unit.