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Fatal Crossroads: The Untold Story of the Malmedy Massacre at the Battle of the Bulge Hardcover – November 22, 2011
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Woman Around Town.com, 12/20/11
"Danny S. Parker illuminates a conflict of the Second World War...the Germans claimed they fired at captives trying to escape; the Americans testified it was cold blooded murder. How the case was tried, and perhaps bungled, is a story in itself."
World War II History, Winter 2012
"It was near the village of Malmedy, Belgium on December 17, 1944 that one of the worst atrocities of World War II took place against American soldiers...Historian Danny S. Parker gives a riveting account of that awful winter day from those who miraculously survived the horrendous ordeal."
Poughkeepsie Journal, 9/4/11
“A riveting account.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review), 10/15/11
“A sharply focused look at a grisly 1944 incident, the massacre of more than 80 American prisoners outside Malmédy, Belgium. Assembling a massive amount of data (the back matter alone consumes more than 120 pages), the author views the tragedy from the perspectives of survivors, the Germans and the Belgian civilians, some of whom aided the wounded, some of whom did not…Comprehensive, definitive, grim and gripping.”
From the Back Cover
"Danny Parker has written the most detailed and reliable account yet of the most notorious atrocity inflicted on U.S. forces in Europe during World War II. Using an impressive array of sources, including interviews with many survivors and witnesses, he has constructed a gripping narrative that is both evocative of the horror of the massacre and restrained and balanced in its conclusions. This is a book that deserves the attention of World War II aficionados."
-James J. Weingartner, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and author of "Americans, Germans, and War Crimes Justice. Law, Memory and the "Good War."
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The book reads like a complete police investigation with an incredible amount to testimonies and details.
We usually read about units fighting others (in this case 1st SS Liebstandard murdering Prisoners of Wars from 285th field artillery observation battalion), however many of the participants, shooters, survivors and victims are directly named, bringing the account to a whole different new level.
What I liked about this book:
-incredible amount of details
-very clear context and background information (I learned for instance why the unit had little other choice but to surrender)
-astonishing number of testimonies from both sides (the GIs have their own voice, as well as the numerous SS veterans)
-rather than being justification on one side or another, the veterans recount the events minutes after minutes as they saw them)
What I liked less:
-the same scenes are described from different perspective again and again. In a way this is repetitive however so can be a police report and for someone interested in history, this gives one of the most exhaustive picture of events one can hope for
-a couple of times the author shares his conclusion before letting the reader discover the events, from a narrative perspective this damages a bit how the story is recounted (a minor quibble).
As a conclusion: some of the reviews indicating the "repetitive" nature of the book initially scared me from purchasing it. It is indeed repetitive at times as we hear the stories of dozens and dozens of people who where actually there describing what they saw and what they did. Quite often, by nature, the events remain the same. However, the picture that is slowly drawn becomes chillingly clearer and clearer.
You can have a strong interest in military history, enjoy the information about what unit participate in what action (down to the individual vehicle number) and have an interest for german armor. You will have all this, with the name of the crew members, what platoon or squad they belonged to. But you will also possibly have the most credible account of what happened these few hours of December 17, 1944.
One star off because of the minor weaknesses (in my view) and because it is not a book for everyone, I am aware of that.
History fans, it's a buy.
My father died in 1979, and never spoke much of the war, other than the times he was wounded, and luckily they did not occur at the Baugnitz crossroads. My mother relayed stories to me that he spoke of when dreams would awaken him with terror after the war. He came close to death many times, but luck brought him through it, and I came along in 1950. He was not, to my knowledge, aware of the specifics of the massacre when I spoke with him briefly in the mid-seventies about the war --- only that when word got out that American soldiers were shot by SS troops during the battle, it caused some similar reprisals among U.S. units. Some wounded prisoners he was sent to pick up never made it into his ambulance, as the veteran American soldiers were rightfully angry over the shootings by the SS. My father said he witnessed prisoners being taken away, then heard the shots in the woods, and was then told that there were no wounded prisoners in need of transport. I would never attempt to condemn the men who would seek 'justice' by these means, as terrible events are common in war. But the Malmady massacre was blatant murder of unarmed men, certainly causing the subsequent deaths of innocent Germans as a result, in the midst of many thousands of American soldiers who were captured and sent back to Germany as POW's. When word of the massacre reached other frontline units in the American lines, I have no doubts that other acts of retaliation occured against German prisoners. This book is very much recommended to anyone wishing to know more about the battle, and I also highly recommend a much older account by John Toland. His book, BATTLE: Story of the Bulge, is loaded with first hand accounts of soldiers and civilians that he interviewed while the war was fresh in the minds of the participants of both sides, in the late 1950's. It was my literal 'Bible' for visitng the Ardennes on several trips, seeking out specific locations where the battle took place. -- Terry Mindham