Bill O’Reilly, late of Fox News, once made the following claim in an exchange with former NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark: “In Malmedy, as you know, U.S. forces captured SS forces who had their hands in the air and were unarmed, and they shot them down. You know that. That’s on the record. Been documented.” Of course, Clark knew nothing of the sort. O’Reilly had gotten the facts completely reversed, and not for the first time—several months earlier, he had made the identical misstatement on air. However astonishing, O’Reilly’s false claim was hardly unusual. It offered no more than an extreme example of the bizarre form that the Malmedy affair has assumed in collective memory.
The story of how a massacre of U.S. soldiers came to be remembered as an instance of American abuse of defenseless Nazis is the subject of Steven