How many surrendering German soldiers were shot on sight by American troops in WW2?

Mudassir Ali
Jan 18, 2020 04:35 PM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Jan 18, 2020 04:36 PM

I don’t really know how many surrendering German soldiers were shot on sight by American troops in WW II….but I can relate a tale of four German soldiers who weren’t shot on sight by an American soldier when surrendering; and for a very good reason.

For those who’ve read others I’ve posted here on Quora…this is another of my dad’s stories, from the 3rd Armored Division in WW II. My father was a medic in the 3rd Armored.

He once told me the following story, which took place somewhere in Belgium before the Battle Of The Bulge.

My dad told me;

“We had bivouacked in an old Belgian house which was kind of wrecked; half the roof was missing. But the other half was intact and would keep the rain off us if the weather got bad, so we all bedded down in the attic for the night.

I awoke the next morning to the smell of frying eggs. I crawled out of my bedroll, and saw one of my buddies frying up five or six eggs in a pan under the heating element we used to be issued for cooking.

Hell…I hadn’t had a fresh egg in months; just the powdered stuff, which was pretty awful after a while.

So I said to my buddy, “Where the hell’d you get those?”

And he said, “No sweat. There’s a Belgian woman in a farmhouse about a hundred yards up the road. For a pack of smokes or a few bucks in scrip, she’ll sell you as many as you want. So help yourself…because these eggs are mine, pal.” Lol.

So I decided I would get me some eggs, too.

Putting on my boots and throwing on my jacket and helmet, I left the house and started walking up the road in the direction my buddy had told me to go.

After a five minute walk, I sure enough came to a large Belgian farmhouse on my left. There was a woman out in front in the yard, drawing water from a well.

Approaching her and engaging in some pidgin English and the little ‘parlez-vous Belgique’ I had picked up, I made her to understand I wanted some eggs…holding out two packs of Lucky Strikes.

“Ahh!”, she said. “Oui!” She left me standing there by the well and walked over to a henhouse. After a minute or two, she emerged with a woven straw basket filled with eggs.

We made the exchange, and she put maybe fourteen or fifteen fresh eggs in my helmet. And after a smile and a few “merci beaucoup’s”, off I went with my eggs.

I was one happy guy! It was a beautiful morning, too…the sun was shining and the birds were chirping…and all I could think of was eating those eggs, lol.

I’d gotten about halfway back to the house, about fifty yards up the road, when suddenly…from out of the shrubbery on both sides of the road…four fully armed German soldiers came crashing out of the bushes and jumped out onto the road about five yards in front of me.

Throwing my helmet and those eggs up into the air, I turned and started to run the other way. But I was so frightened that I actually tripped over my own feet, and went sprawling headlong and facedown into the dirt.

I knew I was a dead man. And son…my hand to God…I just curled up in a ball on that road, closed my eyes and waited for the impact of those slugs. I remember thinking, ‘I hope it doesn’t hurt too much.’

But nothing happened!

And about five seconds later, I heard and felt boots on the ground beside me. And two seconds later, two pairs of hands grabbed me by the arms and lifted me to my feet.

I opened my eyes. There were two of the Germans standing there, one on each side of me. They had picked me up off the ground. And one of them produced a small cork brush with bristles from his jacket pocket, and began briskly dusting off my uniform, making little “tsk, tsk” noises as he did so.

And two of the other German soldiers, who appeared to be the youngest of the four, were actually scrambling around, delicately picking up every egg they could find that hadn’t been broken, and gently putting them back inside my helmet.

They approached me grinning, and held out the eggs and helmet to me. Dazedly, I took it in my hands.

And then the soldier on my left, the oldest one, I think, smiled, raised his arms and said; “Kamerad…vee are… SORRENDERED… ja?? Sorrendered? Verstehst? (Understand?)”

And the other three soldiers grinned and nodded, also saying in unison, “Ja, ja… sorrendered!“

Holy shit! They were surrendering to me!! And I wasn’t dead!!

I couldn’t believe it!

Still trembling from the scare I’d received, I quickly collected myself. Pointing to their weapons, I said, “Okay, boys…let’s have ‘em.”

Quickly and happily disarming themselves, they handed over to me two MP-40 submachine guns, two KAR 98 rifles, a beautiful steel blue P-38 Luger pistol (which I later kept for myself), and a bunch of those potato masher hand grenades. One of them gently took the eggs and helmet from me and, slinging the rifles and machine guns over my shoulders and stuffing the Luger and grenades in my belt, I pointed up the road and said, “Let’s go, boys…VORWARTS MARSCH!!”

As if on parade, they quickly formed up single file and, with me at their rear, off we went up the road, back the way I’d come.

As we walked up the road, I began to realize what had happened.

Those German boys must have been hiding in those bushes all morning, perhaps even for a whole day, just waiting for someone to surrender to. Hell, they knew the jig was up. Any German soldier with half a brain knew it. And those boys weren’t willing to die for Adolf and a lost cause. And when they saw me, with the red crosses on my helmet and armband, they must have thought, ‘Here is the man to surrender to!’ Because the Germans knew that, per the Geneva convention, medics didn’t carry rifles or sidearms; I never carried a weapon. (Although I’d certainly been trained to use one).

So those boys knew that, when they jumped out onto the road, I wouldn’t shoot them down. Because I couldn’t have, even if I’d wanted to, lol.

I didn’t bring them back to the wrecked house we’d camped out in. No, sir. I marched them about another mile up the road, to the CP. When the sentry on duty outside the command post saw those Germans marching up, he quickly brandished his rifle in a panic.

“Hold up!!”, I shouted to him. “These guys are coming in…they surrendered to me!”

Astonished, he ran inside the CP, and seconds later, he and our battalion commander emerged.

“Jesus Christ, private!”, the CO said to me. “Nice work, son!!”

“Yes sir, Lieutenant”, I said. “I always make it a point to never let these bastards get the drop on me!”

Several guys ran over, and everyone began slapping me on the back and congratulating me for a job well done, lol. Nobody ever even asked how I, an unarmed medic, had managed to capture those Germans. But I was sure happy enough to let them think what they wanted and to get the credit for it, lol.

I turned those four boys over to the MP’s; they were quickly frisked and then marched towards the POW compound. But as they walked away, they all turned and grinned at me and waved, and one of them called out, “Danke schon, mein Herr! Danke schon!”


A few days later, our division commanding officer, General Maurice Rose (killed a few months later during the Bulge while trying to surrender) visited our company. As we stood there in ranks, my CO called me out. I marched smartly to the front of the formation and gave a salute. General Rose shook my hand and said to me, “Private…I’ve heard you recently distinguished yourself. Congratulations, son.” And he handed me an award certificate, signed by himself; a citation for performance “above and beyond the call of duty”.

Man! This was in front of the whole company…I felt ten feet tall. (Although I’m sure that my two closest buddies, who I’d told the real story to, were probably snickering to themselves, lol).

After a few words to the company, General Rose left and we broke ranks. A lot of the guys came up to me, shaking my hand and congratulating me.

Little did they know, lol!”

(Author’s note; We still have the certificate my father received, with General Rose’s signature on it. The ink has faded after almost seventy-five years, but it’s still clearly legible!)

Thanks for reading!

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