In December 1944, Frank Hartzell was a young soldier pressed into fierce fighting during the Battle of the Bulge. He was there battling Nazi soldiers for control of the Belgian town of Chenogne, and he was there afterward when dozens of unarmed German prisoners of war were gunned down in a field. 

Reporter Chris Harland-Dunaway travels to Belgium to tour Chenogne with Belgian historian Roger Marquet. Then he sits down with Bill Johnsen, a military historian and former dean of the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to ask why the Patton Papers don’t accurately reflect Gen. George S. Patton’s diary entries about Chenogne. 

The massacre at Chenogne happened soon after the Malmedy massacre, during which Nazi troops killed unarmed American POWs. The German soldiers responsible were tried at Dachau, but the American soldiers who committed the massacre at Chenogne were never held accountable. Harland-Dunaway interviews Ben Ferencz, the last surviving lawyer from the Nuremberg Trials, about why the Americans escaped justice.

And finally, Harland-Dunaway returns to Hartzell to explain what he’s learned and to press Hartzell for a full accounting of his role that day in Chenogne. 

This episode was originally broadcast July 28, 2018.


Reported and Produced by: Chris Harland-Dunaway

Edited by: Brett Myers

Production manager: Amy Mostafa

Production assistance: Brett Simpson

Sound design and music by: Jim Briggs and Fernando Arruda

Mixing: Jim Briggs and Fernando Arruda

Special thanks: Research help from historians Benjamin M. Schneider, Justin Michael Harris, Danny S. Parker and reporter Jason Leopold. Thanks to the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and Anna Sussman of Snap Judgment for helping to bring the story to our attention.

Executive producer: Kevin Sullivan

Host: Al Letson


Reveal transcripts are produced by a third-party transcription service and may contain errors. Please be aware that the official record for Reveal’s radio stories is the audio.

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 From the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, this is Reveal. I’m Al Ledson. Back in 2016, Chris Harland-Dunaway was between two worlds.
Chris Harland-D…:Well, I just finished my first year in journalism school and I had been semi pro bike racer for six years.
Al Ledson:Chris was in his mid 20’s, he was thinking more seriously about his career in journalism, but he also wasn’t quite ready to give up on bike racing.
Chris Harland-D…:I had always dreamt of racing my bike in Europe because that’s the heartland and I decided, well, this is my opportunity.
Al Ledson:So, in the middle of grad school, Chris made a go of it. He flew to Belgium and got a little apartment and began testing himself against the elite riders in a place where bicycle racing is a really big deal. It’s full of traditions and idiosyncrasies, like the Rodania car, that drives ahead of Belgium bike races, blaring an ad for Rodania watches.
Chris Harland-D…:It’s the ice cream truck of Belgium. Everyone hears that call and they hear the Rodania, and they know there is a bike race happening just out their front door. So they gather along the sides with their paper cones of fries and beer and watch the racing.
Al Ledson:So there’s Chris, doing this thing he’s always dreamed of doing. And he’s performing really well, placing in races and just training all the time. Taking these long rides on narrow rivens of road through the Ardennes, a region stretching from Belgium through France, Luxembourg, and into Germany.
Chris Harland-D…:I would go on these rides and I would pass through the spruce forests. It’s so peaceful and I couldn’t help thinking whenever I encountered these moments out there that this is also this place where there is this unbelievable carnage happened there during World War II.
Al Ledson:And this is where Chris’ curiosity and love for journalism began creeping back into focus. The Ardennes forest, saw some of the fiercest fighting of World War II. In December 1944, Germany launched a surprise attack that would become one of it’s last major offenses. Today, we know it as the Battle of the Bulge and Chris wanted to know what it was really like.
Chris Harland-D…:And so I became obsessed with finding the oldest people in the villages nearby. People who would be willing to talk to me and tell me about what they saw during World War II. I figured, what better way to understand what it was like than to talk to people who are still alive and can still tell stories about what happened.
Al Ledson:After hearing some of those stories, he began picking up on whispers of an incident he knew almost nothing about. One that received little attention in the history books.
Chris Harland-D…:We see the men and women who fought in World War II as the greatest generation. For beating Hitler, they did this amazing thing. They saved the world.
Al Ledson:And while all that is true, Chris spent two years investigating whether that’s all they did.
Chris Harland-D…:Maybe bad things have happened that no one is really willing to talk about.
Al Ledson:We’re spending the whole show today, looking back to an event that happened on New Years Eve in 1944. It’s a story we first brought to you about three years ago, about an American war crim during World War II. One that took place in a small Belgium town called Chenogne. Most people don’t know about it and as Chris found out, those who do, still don’t seem to want to talk about it.
Chris Harland-D…:There are always soldiers who don’t talk, or can’t talk about what they went through. And often, it’s not until they are old looking back on their lives that some of these stories about war finally start to come out.
 I searched for a long time for someone who knew about Chenogne. There aren’t many people who really knew what happened there, let alone saw what happened there with their own eyes.
Frank Hartzel:The one thing that’s missing is my combat infantry badge, which got lost in our attic. That’s the thing I was proudest of.
Chris Harland-D…:Frank Hartzel is 93, lives outside Philadelphia. These days, sweaters over collared shirts are kind of his thing. 75 years ago though, he didn’t have the luxury of a signature look. It was just combat uniforms, like the one we are digging out of the closet in his study. It’s got the 11th armor division patch right on the shoulder.
Frank Hartzel:Here is the-
Chris Harland-D…:Oh wow. There’s the patch, the thunderbolt patch. So, did you wear this in the Ardennes?
Frank Hartzel:No, well yeah. I guess we did. Yeah, this is what we wore.
Chris Harland-D…:After the war, Frank went to Drexel and MIT. He worked his entire civilian life as a structural engineer, making sure buildings were safe. He’s sharp, still talks with the precision of a engineer. I saw a picture of him back before the war, at Basic Training in the California desert, standing at attention, rifle resting against his shoulder, a little smirk on his face. He had the same round boyish cheeks he has today.
Frank Hartzel:I got my notice when I was 18 that I was drafted. Once I graduated from high school, I was soon after, the next week or so, called to take a physical. Passed a physical and was inducted in the service, and I guess it was July.
Chris Harland-D…:Because he had good grades, he was fast tracked for an officer training program in Washington State. But after a few months, the army disbanded the program because they didn’t need leadership. Hitler still had a firm grip on Europe, and Frank said what the Army really needed, was cannon fodder. So Frank sat down with his two buddies, Paul Gentile and Bob Fordice.
Frank Hartzel:We had made this pact among us that we would go to visit the parents, if anything had happened to one of us.
Chris Harland-D…:Before shipping out, Frank was allowed to return home to Wallingford, Connecticut one last time. On his first morning home, he came downstairs and there was his mom, standing in the kitchen.
Frank Hartzel:She had a radio and she said the Allies have landed in France.
Robert St. John:This is Robert St. John in the NBC newsroom in New York. Ladies and Gentlemen, we may be approaching a fateful hour. All night long, bulletins have been pouring in from Berlin, claiming that D-Day is here, claiming that the invasion of western Europe has begun.
Chris Harland-D…:After D-Day happened, the US began shipping as many men as it could as fast as it could, across the Atlantic. Frank and his best friend Bob took a picture together in London below the Big Ben clock tower. They’re standing shoulder to shoulder, smiling, wearing those Army envelope hats tilted off to one side.
 After a couple of weeks living in Quonset huts, they crossed the English channel to France.
Frank Hartzel:We were actually on the channel on December 16 when the Battle of the Bulge started.
Chris Harland-D…:The Battle of the Bulge began at 5:30am. The predawn sky lit up with artillery fire. For the next three weeks, the entire war hung in the balance. It was Hitler’s secret, last ditch counter attack against the Allies in the Ardennes forest in Belgium.
Speaker 5:Under cloudy skies, close hanging ground mists that defied ariel observation, the very much alive German army gathered it’s forces in the farest isles to strike one strong, decisive blow at the American army.
Chris Harland-D…:Hitler’s favorite tank commander, Joachim Peiper, led the charge. Promising, in his words, to break the resistance by terror. In the opening hours of battle, he shocked American troops near the Belgian town of Malmedy. (battle sounds)
Speaker 5:Malmedy, scene of an appalling crime. Here men of the United States 30th division, uncover the frozen bodies of American soldiers who, after surrendering, were murdered by their German captors.
Chris Harland-D…:The story was gruesome. On the first day of the Battle of the Bulge, American soldiers ran straight into German tanks by accident. They surrendered. German soldiers corralled the American POW’s in a muddy field besides a crossroads, and shot them. Some Americans played dead, they listened as the Germans walked among the bodies, shooting anyone who looked alive.
 In all, 84 American prisoners were killed. It was called The Malmedy Massacre. News of the atrocity was spreading, just as Frank and his battalion were piling into armored trucks called half tracks, heading straight towards those same German forces that massacred fellow GI’s. To dodge German observation planes, Frank’s convoy advanced in the dark.
Frank Hartzel:We drove all night, no lights, very slowly. We can’t even see. They would have the armor down this little slit they’d look out of. It was really something.
Chris Harland-D…:It was so cold that equipment froze to the ground. Both sides were bogging down, fighting from village to village. This would be Frank’s first experience in combat, trying to take control of a Belgium town named Chenogne.
Frank Hartzel:The next morning, we made this attack on Chenogne, the sky was just led in snow covered fields, is what it was. Their was a machine gun pointing at us. We were going up this field and we were under some fire. Anyway, we finally got up and we took the ridge.
Chris Harland-D…:The ridge looked out over scattered Belgium farm houses, a church steeple. Another group of Americans tried and failed to take the town the day before. Frank remembers looking down on their burning tanks, and there’s another thing he remembers. Something eight veterans from the 11th Armored say is true. That there was an order to take no prisoners.
Frank Hartzel:We went down in the town, and then we were told to pull back. I do remember digging in the foxhole along the top of that ridge.
Chris Harland-D…:They were going to try again the next day. Frank was with his buddy, Bob. It was New Years Eve 1944.
Frank Hartzel:It was twilight, I guess. There was shooting, somewhere sporadic artillery coming in and we were digging and it was so hard to dig in that frozen ground. And Bob Fordice, who I dug with, he was a hard worker and he had been digging and working hard. And he said “Frank, you want to dig for a while?”
Chris Harland-D…:Frank got in the foxhole. He hacked at the dirt. It was like rock. Then they heard artillery rumble in the distance. German shells started whistling down all around them.
Frank Hartzel:I hadn’t been in there digging for two minutes before some 88 fire came in and the hole was just shallow enough, I was lying down. When the fire comes in, you lie down. He would lie down in the outside where I’d been and this piece of shrapnel, I guess, I felt it hit the top of my helmet. Just a little teeny down at the top of my helmet. And I remember saying, “Boy, Bob that was close.”
 And I looked up and it had taken the top of his head off. And I remember shouting over to Tom Hickock, who was our squad leader, I said “Bob’s dead.”
 I guess we spent the rest of the night there. I don’t know if his body stayed there all night or not. But I lost my two best friends in the first two days.
Chris Harland-D…:In the morning, Frank climbed out of his foxhole. His battalion gathered along the ridge line. Behind them, US artillery started shelling the town of Chenogne, trying to soften up the Germans before the attack. They waited. The guns went quiet.
 Then, they charged down into town. Machine gun fires snapped through the air, as the GI’s ran through the snow. The Germans were ready.
 What do you remember seeing around you as you moved into town?
Frank Hartzel:What did I see? Just the houses, which had been pretty well demolished by the bombs dropped on the town. Dead bodies or people that have been wounded. Chaotic, combat is, when you are actually in it, it’s very chaotic.
Chris Harland-D…:The GI’s pushed through the village starting at one end, hoping to reach the other. They zig zagged, taking cover from the German guns wherever they could. The Americans couldn’t figure out where one of the machine guns was shooting from. Then they spotted the source. The basement window of a farmhouse.
Frank Hartzel:I remember being near that farmhouse, just outside this high stone wall. Probably two or three yards from it.
Chris Harland-D…:Two of Frank’s buddies hopped the wall, lobbing grenades at the open upstairs windows. Their aim was bad, the grenades bounced off the side of the farmhouse. One of the men dove into the doorway of the house to dodge the explosion. The other guy was shot while trying to make it back to that stone wall. The same one where Frank was taking cover next to one of their sergeants, a guy named Ed Frailey.
Frank Hartzel:Ed Frailey, I remember, he said “My stomach hurts.” So I looked at it, I pulled his shirt up and I couldn’t see anything in his stomach at all. Then I turned him over and there was a little hole in his back, and he died.
Chris Harland-D…:That high caliber German machine gun wouldn’t stop. Behind Frank, a bunch of these Shermans, these quick scrappy American tanks, rolled into town. One of them fired its cannon at the farmhouse. The smoke cleared, and the machine gun went quiet. The side of the farmhouse was cratered. There was nothing the Germans could do but surrender.
Frank Hartzel:They’d stop shooting because we had surrounded them.
Chris Harland-D…:By this point, Frank dashed off to continue fighting throughout town. He and the other Americans spread out, surrounding each farmhouse as they went. Eventually, the Germans began surrendering en masse.
Frank Hartzel:I just remember them filing out with long overcoats and they were pretty bejaggled, as we were. They’d been attacking for two weeks and living in the cold as we had, so they were probably just about as unshaven as dirty as we were. Worse, because they’d been around longer.
Chris Harland-D…:Under the rules of land warfare in the US, the Germans were prisoners of war. They should have been taken to a collection point behind the front lines and transferred to a prison camp. Instead, the German soldiers were stripped of their weapons and herded to an empty field where they stood in the snow.
Frank Hartzel:Things quieted down and I remember we got orders, take no prisoners. And that’s when, I think it was that afternoon that they were shot. When I walked past the field on the left, where there were these dead bodies. I knew what they were, I knew they were dead Germans and that’s about all I can say.
Chris Harland-D…:Frank says he wasn’t there in the field when the German prisoners were gunned down. He said that he had no part in it.
 What amount of blame by saying take no prisoners do you think they deserve?
Frank Hartzel:The person who issued the original order had a lot of responsibility. I don’t think I could have pulled the trigger on unarmed men and most people I don’t think could do that. I’d say whoever pulled the trigger has most responsibility.
Chris Harland-D…:Back in the States, the New York Times landed on peoples doorsteps. On page three, there were two stories. On the left side of the broad sheet, an article confirmed the Malmedy Massacre, by Joachim Peiper’s German troops weeks earlier. On the right side of the same page, the other headline read, strike on ten mile front. It told the story of General Patton’s lightning assault that knocked the Germans off balance. It noted back and forward attacks and counterattacks in a town called Chenogne. But nothing else.
 That wasn’t the whole story, and I couldn’t get the whole story from Frank because he only knows so much.
Al Ledson:But there is someone else who knows more. A man so obsessed with the massacre at Chenogne, that he bought a house on top of the ridge, right next to the foxhole where Frank lost his best friend, Bob.
Roger Markay:The people doesn’t know that everyday, in every unit, German and American, it was a war crime everyday. Everyday.
Al Ledson:That’s next, on Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting in PRX.
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Al Ledson:From the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, this is Reveal. I’m Al Ledson. The good war, the greatest generation. This is how we tend to talk about World War II and the US role in defeating the Nazi’s. But, it’s much more complicated than that.
 When we left off, an elderly veteran told reporter Chris Harland-Dunaway about a little known massacre. German prisoners of war gunned down by American soldiers. It happened during the Battle of the Bulge in a tiny Belgian town called Chenogne. And that’s where Chris picks up the story.
Chris Harland-D…:It’s December when I arrive, around the same time of year as the Battle of the Bulge. Thin, icy snow covers the fields and forests. Everything is blanketed in fog so thick, you wouldn’t even know the town of Chenogne was here until it’s practically in front of your face.
 After some searching in the hays, I finally found the house I’m looking for. (foreign language).
Roger Markay:Okay, I’m coming.
Chris Harland-D…:Hello.
Roger Markay:Please come in.
Chris Harland-D…:This is Roger Markay.
Roger Markay:I’m 50, uh 50. I’m 72.
Chris Harland-D…:While Roger sometimes has a hard time remembering his age, 72, by the way, he says he’ll never forget what US soldiers did for Belgium. Roger was born just a year after the war, in a town nearby. And he sees the guys of the 11th Armored division, guys like Frank Hartzel, as saviors, liberators.
Roger Markay:And please, take a chair.
Chris Harland-D…:So it came as a shock when Roger first heard rumors about what happened in Chenogne. That Americans might have massacred German prisoners of war.
Roger Markay:I decided maybe it’s not true.
Chris Harland-D…:He used to be a PE teacher, but after he heard about the massacre, he became a man obsessed, and turned historian.
Roger Markay:And I began my own investigation.
Chris Harland-D…:To understand the full story, Roger embedded with the 11th Armored division veterans, like Frank Hartzel who we heard from earlier. Roger knows him really well. Roger used to hang out at reunions back in the States, where he’d take guys aside and interview them alone. One by one, he pieced together what happened.
 Can we walk there or should we go in a car?
Roger Markay:Oh, in a car. You could go by walking, but…
Chris Harland-D…:Roger takes his wool driving cap down from it’s peg. We go get into my rental car. We’re driving around in the dark. Then his arm shoots up to the window.
Roger Markay:There’s the house here, where the basement and where the Germans were killed.
Chris Harland-D…:He’s pointing at a farmhouse, but really he’s pointing backwards in time.
 Oh wow, that’s the house right there.
Roger Markay:Do you want to see?
Chris Harland-D…:Yeah, I’ll pull over here.
Roger Markay:You can see here.
Chris Harland-D…:Roger steps out into the snow. I step out onto the frosty, black tarmac. Remember earlier when Frank Hartzel described crouching behind that stone wall, taking cover from a German machine gun nest? That’s where we are standing.
 In front of us is a three story farmhouse, strung with gold Christmas lights. 74 years ago, that high caliber German machine gun was in the basement window. An American tank shot its cannon point blank at the house. It caught fire, the basement filled with smoke and screaming. Those are details I already knew from Frank, but there was some things Frank didn’t see that day. For the rest of the story, Roger points at the cellar door.
Roger Markay:Look at this. Do you see against the wall? It’s the stairs where from the guys came out. The first one was a German medic.
Chris Harland-D…:Roger says it was a German medic who surrendered first, climbing out into the front yard where we are standing. He carried a white flag and American soldiers were positioned in a semi circle around him, rifles raised.
Roger Markay:Without any words, they shot the guy, he was killed.
Chris Harland-D…:American soldiers shot the medic trying to surrender.
Roger Markay:Second one was maybe a young Belgian boy. They didn’t fire, of course.
Chris Harland-D…:The boy made it out alive. Then another German emerged from the cellar steps, trying to surrender.
 With the basement on fire, one by one, German soldiers emerged, trying to surrender. And one by one, they were shot.
 Roger turns and I follow him. He crosses the narrow road, makes a sweeping gesture towards a small, grassy embankment.
Roger Markay:When the mayor came three, four days after, he came back and the bodies were lined here, in front of here.
Chris Harland-D…:The German soldiers from the cellar, the ones who had tried to surrender.
Roger Markay:It was 19 dead and they were put side by side.
Chris Harland-D…:But that wasn’t all, of course. There were other German POW’s, staggering out of farmhouses trying to surrender. GI’s stripped them of their weapons. Roger was told an American commander then barked an order.
Roger Markay:Not here guys, because the Germans could see us. Come a little bit further.
Chris Harland-D…:There were still German soldiers clustered in the forest, just outside of town, potential witnesses. So, the Americans herded their prisoners down the hill.
 Roger takes me down the road, past the church.
Roger Markay:And when they arrive at the bottom of the village, the Germans could not see them.
Chris Harland-D…:We stand next to a barbed wire fence, an anonymous empty pasture on the other side.
Roger Markay:And Frank Hartzel said it was only this meadow.
Chris Harland-D…:This snowy meadow is where Frank and other veterans told Roger that all those German soldiers were gathered up.
Roger Markay:And they shoot 60, and one of them, 11th Armored guy, told me “I count this, 61, Roger”
Chris Harland-D…:That 11th Armored guy, Steve Bugden, assured Roger. He said, “I’m precise.” Three testimonies from Steve, Frank Hartzel, and his friend John Figg, who were, by all accounts, bystanders to the incident, estimate that Americans machine gunned 60 German prisoners in this field. That, combined with the cellar incident, makes around 80 German prisoners killed after they had surrendered to Americans.
 Two weeks earlier, when Germans massacred American prisoners in Malmedy, they killed 84. Chenogne nearly settled the score, roughly one German life for each American life taken.
 Back at Roger’s house, we go into his study. Right above his desk, there is a photograph of Bob Fordice, Frank’s best friend who was killed by shrapnel when they were digging that foxhole.
 So you have Bob’s photograph right next to where you right.
Roger Markay:Oh yeah.
Chris Harland-D…:Roger adopted his grave. That spot where Frank and Bob dug together on the ridge where Bob was killed, it’s in Roger’s backyard. He built his house here for that reason and planted a tree to honor Bob. Roger tries to explain his devotion to these men, struggling to find the words in English.
Roger Markay:I don’t find the words in English (foreign language).
Chris Harland-D…:You have the mentality that as long as you remember someone, they are alive.
Roger Markay:He is alive, yeah. He’s maybe not alive, but he is existing because you speak of him. He is existing.
Chris Harland-D…:These American soldiers gave their lives to liberate his little corner of the Ardennes forest where the Battle of the Bulge plowed through Belgian villages and people’s lives. But one question nagged Roger: How could these saviors also kill all those unarmed Germans who surrendered? How could the Americans do what they did?
Roger Markay:One of them tells me, we became animals at the time of the combat. We became like animals and you have to do this because if you don’t have the instinct of war, you will be killed. It’s not excusable, but it is explainable.
Chris Harland-D…:It’s worth noting, we are talking about Nazis here. That alone makes some of this explainable. Allied soldiers were battling for their lives. They were exhausted, living in frozen foxholes and that’s when they got the order to take no prisoners. It’s hard to know who gave that order, especially since many military records from that time have been destroyed by fire. But it’s not like they didn’t know about it.
 There’s a book called the Patton Papers. It’s mostly a transcription of General George S. Patton’s diaries and notes. It says this about Chenogne: There were also some unfortunate incidents of the shooting of prisoners. I hope we can conceal this.
 But I found Patton’s original handwritten diary in the Library of Congress. It’s been digitized. After hours of clicking through Patton’s scrawl, I found the same passage. Blue ink, on tan pages. Except this passage is different. It has a misspelled word, med instead of men. More importantly, there is number. I read it aloud to Roger, slowly.
 Also murdered 50 odd German med. I hope we can conceal this.
Roger Markay:The document that was… where did you find this?
Chris Harland-D…:Roger is surprised because this diary entry seems to prove something he long suspected. Patton knew his troops had killed Germans, at least 50. Also, Patton called it murder. Not long after, we say our goodbyes.
Roger Markay:Merci.
Chris Harland-D…:All right, bye bye.
 I learned that the Patton Papers were written by a historian named Martin Blumenson. He worked for the Army and he was given unlimited access to all of Patton’s documents. He died in 2005. How important was it that a historian who worked for the Army, didn’t transcribe Patton’s exact words?
 I went back to the States, to find out.
Bill Johnson:Chris.
Chris Harland-D…:Hi.
Bill Johnson:How are you?
Chris Harland-D…:Good, how are you? Nice to meet you, Bill.
 Bill Johnson is a military historian and former dean of the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. We walk past paintings of musket charges and the cavalry riding in. Then Bill points me to a plaque, with Martin Blumenson’s name on it.
Bill Johnson:I did check, Martin Blumenson was here. The Harold K. Johnson visiting professor of history from ’75 to ’76.
Chris Harland-D…:That’s after he published the Patton Papers. Bill starts walking down the hallway again.
 Did you know Martin Blumenson yourself?
Bill Johnson:No, I have never met him. I know him, clearly by reputation.
Chris Harland-D…:Bill is heading into a conference room. It’s got funky faux wood paneling. We sit down at the table side by side and swivel our office chairs to face each other. I pull out a folder holding my documents and pick out Blumenson’s transcription, the one that reads “There was some unfortunate incidents of the shooting of prisoners. I hope we can conceal this.”
 Then, I pull out a printed copy of Patton’s original diary, in his handwriting. Which clearly says, “Also murdered 50 odd German med.” Bill inspects them.
 If you were doing a transcription of Patton’s papers, what would you have done?
Bill Johnson:At this time, I think I probably would have looked at, from a historian’s perspective, this is a relatively small, isolated incident, far out of relevance to the bulk of the other material that’s there. And so, he may have just made a generalization.
Chris Harland-D…:Does it come across as sanitized in any way to you?
Bill Johnson:I’m sure that some people would immediately look at this and say, oh look he concealed the number. Others might look at it and say, no he didn’t know what the number was. He had a single report. We have a truism in the military which is never believe the first report. And so the question in Blumenson’s mind may have been, I don’t know what the real number is, so I’ll keep it general.
Chris Harland-D…:Do you think people who approach it thinking that it’s just a transcription of what Patton wrote verbatim, do you think they have some right to be disappointed?
Bill Johnson:Well, again, I think that if you look at some of these issues. Some of it is I’m sure that editors were trying to portray a broad positive picture and so sometimes these things get shaded. Winners usually get to write the history and get to determine what’s good or evil.
Chris Harland-D…:He’s saying, it’s complicated, so cut Blumenson a little slack. So I pressed one last time for answers about what happened in Chenogne.
 Is this clearly a war crime?
Bill Johnson:Well, under the law of land warfare, yes. Once people surrendered, they’ve surrendered. And so, there are clear definitions of what constitutes surrender and not surrender, what constitutes a combatant and a non combatant and all of these activities are reinforced at least on an annual basis throughout the Army.
Chris Harland-D…:The same rules are in the Geneva Conventions. Both Germany and the United States had signed them before World War II. Bill says US soldiers must follow orders, but they also have a higher responsibility.
Bill Johnson:Every soldier has the responsibility to disobey an unlawful order.
Chris Harland-D…:Every soldier has the responsibility to disobey an unlawful order. But if it was unlawful, if it was clearly a war crime, who was supposed to investigate it and why wasn’t it ever prosecuted?
Al Ledson:When we come back, Chris talks to a war crimes investigator who argued one of the biggest murder trials in human history. That’s coming up on Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX.
Speaker 7:Support from Reveal comes from Audible. You can now find and follow Reveal in Audible, along with hundreds of thousands of other podcasts. All in the Audible app and all free. No membership, no credit card needed. For over 25 years, Audible has been the leading provider of audiobooks and all kind of spoken word entertainment. Now you can find all them all in one place. So get Reveal, along with other popular shows by searching for the show in the Audible app. Go to or text pods to 500-500 to download the audible app and follow us there.
Byard Duncan:Hey folks, I’m Byard Duncan.
David Rodriguez:And I’m David Rodriguez.
Byard Duncan:We are reporters at Reveal, and we are investigating problems with the 2020 census. We recently uncovered a pattern of poor training, shifting deadlines, and clunky technology that produced chaos on the ground as the census came to a close.
David Rodriguez:Workers across the US are raising doubts about the accuracy of the information they collected and expressing worry about how it may affect government funding and political representation.
Byard Duncan:We’ve heard from over 120 census workers so far and we’re looking to hear from even more.
David Rodriguez:If you worked for the 2020 census and want to share your experience, text the word census to 474747.
Byard Duncan:Standard data rates apply and you can text stop at any time. Again, text the word census to 474747. Thank you.
Al Ledson:From the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, this is Reveal. I’m Al Ledson. World War II lasted six years. Six years of fighting and extermination on a scale never seen before. At the close of the war, there was an attempt at justice. The trials at Nuremberg and Dachau were one of the worlds first major experiments with international courts. Here’s reporter Chris Harland-Dunaway, with the final chapter in this story that we first brought to you back in 2018.
Chris Harland-D…:The Americans fought all the way to Berlin, where they clinked glasses of Cognac with their Russian allies. Spring went to summer to fall, then the Nuremberg trials began in Germany. The Nuremberg trials forced the Germans to answer for crimes against humanity during the war. Trials for Hitler’s cabinet ministers, the Gestapo secret police, concentration camp doctors, the worst of the worst. They sat in a courtroom wearing translation headsets.
Speaker 14:We are now ready to hear the presentation by the prosecution.
Chris Harland-D…:A young American prosecutor, named Ben Ferencz, stands at the podium. He looks confident, calm, and determined.
Ben Ferencz:Courts will show that the slaughter committed by these defendants was dictated, not by military necessity, but by that supreme perversion of thought, the Nazi theory of the master race.
Chris Harland-D…:It was the biggest murder trial in human history. 22 defendants, all part of Nazi death squads, known as the Einsatzgruppen. They were accused of murdering over a million Jews and other civilians. Before continuing, the American prosecutor pauses. He drinks some water, taking his time, and then makes an argument for the principle of international justice.
Ben Ferencz:The jurisdictional power of every state, extends to the punishment of offenses against the law of nations “by whomsoever and wheresoever committed.”
Chris Harland-D…:When the trial happened back in 1947, that young American lawyer was just 28 years old. Today, he is the last surviving prosecutor from Nuremberg.
Ben Ferencz:My name is Benjamin Ferencz, I’m 99 years old. I’m being interviewed now by a very nice gentlemen in Delray Beach, Florida.
Chris Harland-D…:I flew to Florida to meet Ben, and it’s worth repeating, he’s 99 years old. I was amazed to learn that two years before he stood at the podium in Nuremberg as chief prosecutor of the Einsatzgruppen, he was a janitor. He scrubbed floors and cleaned toilets in Patton’s headquarters. One day, towards the end of the war, he was called in for an interview.
Ben Ferencz:I met a colonel there who said we have gotten instructions from Washington to set up a war crimes branch and your name has been forwarded from Washington. And what’s a war crime?
Chris Harland-D…:What’s a war crime, asked the colonel.
Ben Ferencz:And that is literally a quotation of how the war crimes program here in the United States in World War II started.
Chris Harland-D…:Ben had a Harvard law degree. Studied international law, so he had a good answer. After World War II, there were two sets of war crimes investigations. And Ben worked on both of them. The most heinous cases involving concentration camps and the slaughter of civilians were handled in Nuremberg. But 100 miles away, trials in Dachau covered German war crimes committed against allied troops. One particular case at Dachau captured the public’s attention.
Speaker 17:State your full name.
Speaker 18:(foreign language)
Chris Harland-D…:Joachim Peiper was that German tank commander responsible for the Malmedy massacre. Remember, that’s when 84 American prisoners were shot on the first day of the Battle of the Bulge. During Peiper’s trial, dozens of his troops sat in stands pushed up against the wall. Each one wore a big card with a number on it, hanging on a string like a necklace.
Speaker 17:Number 42, were you ever a member of the Armed Forces of the German Reich?
Speaker 19:(foreign language) Yes.
Chris Harland-D…:The case ran for two months. First, the prosecution tried to find out if Peiper’s troops knew the rules of war. If they’d read the Geneva Convention.
Speaker 17:I’ll ask you once again, did you ever read the rules of the Geneva Convention whether in a book or in a pamphlet or in a manual in your life?
Chris Harland-D…:Yes, the soldier says. They did know the rules. Those American prisoners at Malmedy were slain in spite of that. When it came time for the sentencing:
Speaker 17:The court in full session believes two-thirds of the members present at the time the vote was taken, concurring, sentences you to death by hanging.
Chris Harland-D…:Death by hanging.
Speaker 17:(foreign language)
Chris Harland-D…:A camera flash bulb pops, and Peiper is taken away. His sentence was eventually commuted, largely for political reasons. But he and most of his troops were found guilty.
 This is what justice looked like for the Malmedy massacre. But what about the massacre in Chenogne? Americans killed a similar number of German troops. There were no trials for the Americans, no prosecutions, and certainly no death sentences. But there was a call for an investigation. One that few know anything about.
 It’s all inside a declassified file I got. One filled with confidential reports from just after the war, including one about Chenogne. A soldier named Max Cohen described seeing roughly 70 German prisoners machine gunned by the 11th Armored. Then, there was a back and forward. General Dwight D. Eisenhower demanded a full investigation. The 11th Armored said they sent it. Eisenhower’s office said, we don’t have it, send it again.
 Then the 11th Armored basically said, it’s too late. The war is over, the unit is disbanded. In the end, Eisenhower never received any investigation into Chenogne. I wanted to show all this to Ben Ferencz, the Nuremberg prosecutor
 Okay so, this is a confidential report. It’s not this one, it’s…
 Sitting on his couch in Florida, I ask Ben what he makes of it.
Ben Ferencz:Well, it smells to me like a cover up, of course. Okay, does that surprise you?
Chris Harland-D…:Yeah, it does.
Ben Ferencz:It doesn’t surprise me.
Chris Harland-D…:During his investigations for the trials at Dachau and Nuremberg, Ben thoroughly investigated German war crimes, driving all over, interrogating people, researching documents, exhuming hastily buried bodies with his shovel.
 So, was it ever your job to investigate American war crimes?
Ben Ferencz:No, we don’t do that sort of thing. No, I would never investigate American war crimes, I was hired to investigate German war crimes.
Chris Harland-D…:So even if you received evidence that an American war crime has occurred, like Chenogne, you wouldn’t be told to go investigate it?
Ben Ferencz:Well, the truth is, pay attention. Of course Americans committed crimes in war and it happens on both sides, on all sides, in all wars.
Chris Harland-D…:Is understanding that when our guys into a way, knowing from the get go that there will be soldiers among them who commit war crimes. Is that part of understanding war by its nature?
Ben Ferencz:War is the supreme international crime. We have glorified war for centuries.
Chris Harland-D…:The men and women who went to fight in World War II are often referred to as the greatest generation.
Ben Ferencz:That’s nonsense. There is no greatest generation. Greatest generation are the ones who have the courage to say what the government is doing is wrong and we will not support it. That’s the greatest generation, when they said hell no in the Vietnam war. Hell no, Mr. President. We won’t go. Stop war making is the answer.
Chris Harland-D…:Ben Ferencz says war crimes can only be avoided if countries avoid war in the first place. Not only will the bad guys commit them, the good guys will commit them, too. This is the natural course of humanity’s most destructive activity. It’s easier to deal with that truth in general, but what about in miniature, on a personal level?
 After those Americans killed prisoners in Chenogne, there was no big trial. I wondered what that did to them, what it was like living with that. When I was in Belgium talking to Roger Markay, that historian who investigated Chenogne, he talked a lot about Frank Hartzel’s experiences as a soldier. Going to war as young man, just 18. Seeing his first combat during the Bulge. Then, the war crime in Chenogne.
 Among the stories, there was one I had trouble understanding. Roger was vague enough that I almost forgot it. But, as I sat in Frank’s living room in the suburbs outside Philadelphia, I asked about it.
 When I went and visited Roger, Roger told me a story where you shot a German that you came across. It was at Chenogne, I think. Do you have any recollection of this? He was close to you, and I think John was there.
Frank Hartzel:No, I shot a soldier, two of them. But I don’t think John was there. I don’t know if anybody was there that saw it.
Chris Harland-D…:Tell me about what happened.
Frank Hartzel:They were in a foxhole and I shot him. I didn’t know I told Roger that, but I did.
Chris Harland-D…:Were they trying to surrender or were they-
Frank Hartzel:Yeah, they were. They were. Something I’ll never forgive myself for. It was my first day in combat and two young boys and I shot them. No excuse for it. And they’d been shooting at us and I could have just passed them by, we were under fire, it was our first attack. I didn’t have to shoot them, but that’s what we were trained to do, shoot. I shouldn’t have done it. I always felt guilty about that. If you had time to think about it, you probably wouldn’t do it but it’s a very different feeling when you are being shot at and you’re right in the middle of it and you are scared to death. Spur of the moment decision that you make, and sometimes you don’t do it and sometimes you do. And I was young and inexperienced and I did it, but I don’t want to talk about it anymore.
Chris Harland-D…:Okay, I respect that.
 To be clear, what Frank is talking about, happened in the first 30 minutes of battle, before the massacre at Chenogne. Frank and his buddies made a charge for the ridge, two Germans stood up from a foxhole. Their arms above their heads and called out to him, “comrade”. That’s what Germans yelled to surrender. Frank says it all happened so fast, that he acted out of instinct and fear.
 It’s been nearly three quarters of a century, and Frank hasn’t told anyone about this. Not his wife or children. So why now? The night after our first interview, Frank sent me an email. He had more to say about the two Germans. So I went back and sat down with him the next day, so Frank could tell me in person. He started by reading that email back to me.
Frank Hartzel:What I wrote was, you recently called to me my attention my hypocrisy in telling you that I wouldn’t shoot unarmed POW’s. Well, knowing that earlier that same awful day I had done essentially the same thing. I will tell you that I’ve never forgiven myself for what I did that morning and will regret it until the day I die.
 I can’t begin to tell you how many times throughout the last 73 years I remembered and regretted what I did during my first half hour in combat. Whenever I think of my sons or my grandsons, and how much I love them, I think of the bereavement of those unknown parents. When I think of the long, happy life I’ve had, of the joys of living and loving and learning and working and parenting, the beauty of our world, the marvelous discoveries about the composition and scale of the universe, the understanding of molecular biology, the digital revolution, et cetera et cetera. I think of how my action to these two boys who were no doubt as innocent and un-worldlike as I was of all that and so much more. There were times when I can’t rid myself of the memory for days on end.
 Once can plead extenuating circumstances, of which I guess there were a few. But in the last analysis, I committed an act for which their is no excuse and no forgiveness and I have lived with that realization most of my life.
Chris Harland-D…:Frank doesn’t know anything about those two young German soldiers, whether they lived, or died. Whether they were Hitler Youth, or unwilling conscripts. It’s impossible to know. One can plead extenuating circumstances, the order to take no prisoners, the Malmedy massacre just two weeks earlier. Maybe even the very fact that these two soldiers were fighting for Nazi Germany.
 Earlier, Frank told me that war is chaotic, that it’s different when you are up close. For Frank, the greatest extenuating circumstance, might actually be war itself. But some 73 years after shooting those two young men, it’s a point that brings him no comfort.
Al Ledson:We want to thank Frank Hartzel for sharing his story with us. Chris Harland-Dunaway reported and produced today’s show. He started working on it as a student at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. It was edited by Brett Myers.
 Since we first aired this story, Bill Johnson retired from the Army War College. We had research help from historians Benjamin M. Schneider, Justin Michael Harris, Danny S. Parker, and reporter Jason Leopold. Thanks also to my friend, Anna Sussman of Snap Judgment, for helping to bring this story to our attention. Score and sound design by the dynamic duo, Jay Breezy, Mr. Jay Briggs and Fernando my man-o Arruda. Our theme music is by Commarado Lightning. Support for Reveal is provided by the Reva and David Logan Foundation, the John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Democracy Fund, and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.
 Reveal is a co production of the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. I’m Al Ledson and remember, there is always more to the story.
Speaker 20:From PRX.

Chris Harland-Dunaway is a freelance reporter and radio producer. His investigative reporting has appeared on Reveal, The Verge, PRI’s The World, and WHYY’s The Pulse.

Brett Myers is an interim executive producer for Reveal. His work has received more than 20 national honors, including a George Foster Peabody Award, four nationalEdward R. Murrow Awards and multipleThird Coast/Richard H. Driehaus Competition awards. Before joining Reveal, he was a senior producer at Youth Radio, where he collaborated with teenage reporters to file stories for "Morning Edition," "All Things Considered" and "Marketplace." 

Prior to becoming an audio producer, Myers trained as a documentary photographer and was named one of the 25 best American photographers under the age of 25. He loves bikes, California and his family. Before that, he was an independent radio producer and worked with StoryCorps, Sound Portraits and The Kitchen Sisters. Myers is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.

Amy Mostafa (she/they) was the production manager for Reveal. She is a UC Berkeley School of Journalism alum, where she focused on audio and data journalism as a Dean's Merit Fellow and an ISF Scholar. She has reported on science, health and the environment in Anchorage for Alaska Public Media and on city government in Berkeley and San Francisco for KQED. Her work also has appeared on NPR, KALW and KALX. Mostafa holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and public policy. She has most recently reported on housing and aging in the Bay Area. She is based in Reveal’s Emeryville, California, office.

Brett Simpson (she/her) was an assistant producer for Reveal. She pursued a master's degree at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where she focuses on audio, print and investigative reporting. She has received fellowships from the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, the National Press Club, the White House Correspondents’ Association and the UC Berkeley Human Rights Center. She is also the graduate researcher at UC Berkeley's Investigative Reporting Program. Most recently, Simpson reported breaking news for the San Francisco Chronicle and covered the coronavirus outbreak in the San Francisco Bay Area for The New York Times. She received a bachelor's degree in English at Princeton University, where she twice won the Ferris Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Projects in Journalism.

Jim Briggs III is the senior sound designer, engineer and composer for Reveal. He supervises post-production and composes original music for the public radio show and podcast. He also leads Reveal's efforts in composition for data sonification and live performances.

Prior to joining Reveal in 2014, Briggs mixed and recorded for clients such as WNYC Studios, NPR, the CBC and American Public Media. Credits include “Marketplace,” “Selected Shorts,” “Death, Sex & Money,” “The Longest Shortest Time,” NPR’s “Ask Me Another,” “Radiolab,” “Freakonomics Radio” and “Soundcheck.” He also was the sound re-recording mixer and sound editor for several PBS television documentaries, including “American Experience: Walt Whitman,” the 2012 Tea Party documentary "Town Hall" and “The Supreme Court” miniseries. His music credits include albums by R.E.M., Paul Simon and Kelly Clarkson.

Briggs' work with Reveal has been recognized with an Emmy Award (2016) and two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards (2018, 2019). Previously, he was part of the team that won the Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma for its work on WNYC’s hourlong documentary special “Living 9/11.” He has taught sound, radio and music production at The New School and Eugene Lang College and has a master's degree in media studies from The New School. Briggs is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.

Fernando Arruda is a sound designer, engineer and composer for Reveal. As a multi-instrumentalist, he contributes to the original music, editing and mixing of the weekly public radio show and podcast. He has held four O-1 visas for individuals with extraordinary abilities. His work has been recognized with Peabody, duPont-Columbia, Edward R. Murrow, Gerald Loeb, Third Coast and Association of Music Producers awards, as well as Emmy and Pulitzer nominations. Prior to joining Reveal, Arruda toured as an international DJ and taught music technology at Dubspot and ESRA International Film School. He worked at Antfood, a creative audio studio for media and TV ads, and co-founded a film-scoring boutique called the Manhattan Composers Collective. He worked with clients such as Marvel, MasterClass and Samsung and ad agencies such as Framestore, Trollbäck+Company, BUCK and Vice. Arruda releases experimental music under the alias FJAZZ and has performed with many jazz, classical and pop ensembles, such as SFJAZZ Monday Night Band, Art&Sax quartet, Krychek, Dark Inc. and the New York Arabic Orchestra. His credits in the podcast and radio world include NPR’s “51 Percent,” WNYC’s “Bad Feminist Happy Hour” and its live broadcast of Orson Welles’ “The Hitchhiker,” Wondery’s “Detective Trapp,” MSNBC’s “Why Is This Happening?” and NBC’s “Born to Rule,” to name a few. Arruda also has a wide catalog of composed music for theatrical, orchestral and chamber music formats, some of which has premiered worldwide. He holds a master’s degree in film scoring and composition from NYU Steinhardt. The original music he makes with Jim Briggs for Reveal can be found on Bandcamp.

Kevin Sullivan is a former executive producer of Reveal’s public radio show and podcast. He joined Reveal from the daily news magazine show “Here & Now,” where he was senior managing editor. There, he helped lead the expansion of the show as part of a unique partnership between NPR and WBUR. Prior to radio, Sullivan worked as a documentary film producer. That work took him around the world, with stories ranging from reconciliation in Northern Ireland to the refugee crisis during the war in Kosovo.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Sullivan launched an investigative unit for CBS in Baltimore, where he spearheaded investigations on bioterrorism and the U.S. government’s ability to respond to future threats. He also dug into local issues. His exposé of local judges found widespread lax sentencing of repeat-offender drunken drivers. Other investigations included sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests, and doctors who sold OxyContin for cash. Sullivan has won multiple journalism awards, including several Edward R. Murrow awards, a Third Coast / Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition award and an Emmy. He has an MBA from Boston University.

Al Letson is a playwright, performer, screenwriter, journalist, and the host of Reveal. Soul-stirring, interdisciplinary work has garnered Letson national recognition and devoted fans.

Najib Aminy is a producer for Reveal. Previously, he was an editor at Flipboard, a news aggregation startup, and helped guide the company’s editorial and curation practices and policies. Before that, he spent time reporting for newspapers such as Newsday and The Indianapolis Star. He is the host and producer of an independent podcast, "Some Noise," which is based out of Oakland, California, and was featured by Apple, The Guardian and The Paris Review. He is a lifelong New York Knicks fan, has a soon-to-be-named kitten and is a product of Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism. Aminy is based in Reveal’s Emeryville, California, office.

Mwende Hinojosa is a former production manager for Reveal. Prior to joining Reveal, she was the training strategist and innovation manager for the Bay Area Video Coalition, a nonprofit media arts center in San Francisco. At BAVC, she provided resources and support to students training in video, motion graphics, web and graphic design and managed a community for creative freelancers called Gig Union. She has produced segments for public radio stations KUSP, KQED, KALW and KUOW; videos and short documentaries for nonprofits; interactive panel discussions; and immersive storytelling experiences for tech companies. .