SCHNELLE GRUPPE KNITTEL
A week of horror in the Ardennes : an investigation into the war crimes of SCHNELLE GRUPPE KNITTEL - December 1944 : Stavelot, Parfondruy, Renardmont, Ster and Trois-Ponts
In November 1984, a 60-year-old veteran from Gariboldi, Oregon, U.S.A, wrote a letter to the mayor of Stavelot. In the Second World War, Frank Warnock had been the 1 st Lieutenant in the 117 th Infantry Regiment, 30 th US Infantry Division. On the 22nd of December 1944 he had discovered the remains of twenty-three murdered civilians in the garden of the Legaye-Crismer house. He shared some of his recollections and this resulted in an extensive exchange of letters between him and local historians. In one of these letters Warnock concluded:
“Is there anything in these pages to suggest that haughty, arrogant bestiality is exclusive to the Hitlerite German? Certainly not. It was there long before Hitler and will remain among all races, cultures, colors, religions for a hundred or thousand generations to come. Until sanity comes to the human race. All groups on each of the continents have committed horrors on others or to each other. We have all tried to sweep our own horrors under the rug, but if we dare to peek a little, there they are. Staring back at us. All of us.”
After I had written and published my Gustav Knittel biography, a feeling remained that the victims of the ‘Schnelle Gruppe’ had been neglected. I had named them and had described their fate, to the best of my ability with the available sources, but they were still people who only came into view when they were murdered. They had no face, no life, no history for that horrid day in December 1944. I had to try to rectify this and, in fact, the same was true for the perpetrators. I mentioned them in Knittel’s life story, but the lower ranks in particular remained one-dimensional perpetrators. The seed for this new book had been sown.
All the veterans who helped me with my first book have passed away but I could go back to their children, back to the archives, the written memories, fellow researchers and, above all, back to Stavelot. The judicial documents had been embargoed for decades, but now the Belgian archives finally begun to reveal their secrets. And with the help of tireless ‘Sherlock’ Vincianne Boulanger, the new research gained momentum. The last living eyewitnesses were interviewed by her and relatives told her about the victims. Including her own father, Yvon Boulanger, whose grandmother, aunt and nephews were murdered by the SS.
While I finalise the manuscript for this book about a massacre that took place seventy-eight years ago, there is war in Ukraine and reports of new outrages are reaching us. Sadly, we have to conclude that Frank Warnock was right.
Timo R. Worst, the 30th of April 2022
Table of content
1 ‘Something might be amiss in Parfondruy’
4.1 The American Counterattack
4.2 The demise of the Pionierzug
4.3 SS-Mann Kilat
Reviews & ratings
Gordon Williamson, Scotland
An important and essential work
A very important scholarly work by an accomplished researcher and a perfect and very neccessary accompaniment to “Gustav Knittel”. A sobering account of the horrors suffered by innocent civilians at the hands of SS troops under the command of Gustav Knittel. Not an easy read, dealing as it does with some horrific events, but an essential one. Very, very highly recommended.
+ Illustrated with many rare photos.
15 July 2022
Jamie O., U.S.A.
Schnelle Gruppe Knittel
The book was great. Well written, well researched, and overall great book. The publishing was incredible. It’s a beautiful book, high quality, one of the nicest book in my library! Thanks to the author and the publisher.
17 July 2022
Blanluet (Boudard), France
Gripping story & thorough research
Nothing’s missing, everything is reviewed in detail, it’s all there. The analysis is unbiased for a grim part of WW2 history. The format I find convenient with plenty of photos with hefty captions, most of which never seen before. Hard to let down once you’ve started it. Waffen-ss blood ‘n guts !
+ Researched & documented
+ Unbiased though gripping
19 July 2022
C. M. Byrne, Ireland
Schnelle Gruppe Knittel
Following on for the well received ‘Career, Crimes and Trial of Sturmbannführer Gustav Knittel’, author Timo Worst’s new work focuses on the events that culminated in the murder of innocent civilians by ‘Schelle Gruppe Knittel’ in the scattered hamlets around Stavelot during the Battle of the Bulge. Worst’s use of primary archival documents and privileged interview material from both German veteran’s and the victim’s families ensure that the full picture of this grim week and its aftermath has been forensically pieced together.
The book itself is of superior quality, crammed with original photographs and documents. A must-have addition to any serious scholar’s collection.
21 July 2022
K. Rogan, U.S.A.
JP Speder, Stavelot, Belgium
Awesome Research Work
Meticulously researched and documented analysis of one of the grimmest events of the battle of Stavelot. The author brings you to the heart of the events, his unbiased research work of the actions and characters is emphasized by many photos, many of them adding a face to the victims names. Extremely well documented. Definitely a must read.
10 August 2022
This book is by far one of the better written ones regarding an aspect of the Ardennes Offensive (Battle of the Bulge). The author has done a terrific job piecing together the dramatic events as well as gathering information about those responsible for them. Caution: it is a very hard book to read, as it should be. What happened in those dark winter days should never be forgotten. Looking forward to reading more of this author.
+ very detailed account
11 August 2022