How a U.S. Army Lawyer Used Anti-Semitism to Exonerate an SS Unit That Slaughtered American POWs

June 14, 2017 | Gabriel Schoenfeld
About the author: Gabriel Schoenfeld, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, is the author of, among other books, The Return of Anti-Semitism (2004).

In the midst of the Battle of the Bulge, a unit of the Waffen-SS massacred 84 captured American soldiers near the Belgian village of Malmedy. Having taken hundreds of members of the unit prisoner after the war, the Army arranged for their interrogation and trial, assigning Colonel Willis Everett the unenviable task of defending them in the courtroom. Everett tried to make the most of their stories of mistreatment at the hands of their interrogators—most of whom were German-speaking Jewish intelligence officers—and thus unleashed a familiar brew of anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, and Holocaust inversion. Reviewing a recent study of the episode by Steven P. Remy, Gabriel Schoenfeld writes:

Remy shows that Everett had come to regard the Allied occupation of Germany as “corrupt and misguided.” Worse, his sympathies “lay not with the victims of Nazi Germany but with Germans—including former Nazis—victimized, in his mind, by ignominious defeat and a vengeance-filled occupation.” Everett’s fervor was fueled by a prejudice not uncommon at the time: believing that American military justice had been “subverted by vengeance-seeking Jews,” i.e., the interrogators.

In his anti-Semitism, as Remy shows, Everett was swimming in a broader current. Warren Magee, the American defense counsel for the last seven Nazi war criminals condemned to death at Nuremberg, regarded the Allied war-crime trials as “Mosaic” justice. . . .

As Everett and like-minded personages floated their accounts of German prisoners subjected to physical abuse, stories began to appear in various quarters of the American press. . . . It did not take long for the story to seep into the mainstream media and central institutions. Time hailed Everett for revealing abuses that “read like a record of Nazi atrocities.” . . .

The problem with all of this is that the allegations of abuse were false, [products of] a coordinated campaign devised by the SS defendants themselves while awaiting trial.

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