Generalfeldmarschall August von Mackensen, officer in the German Army, wearing the Totenkopf (skull and cross bones) which was part of German military gear since the 18th century
Anton Ludwig August von Mackensen (6 December 1849 – 8 November 1945), born August Mackensen, was a German soldier and field marshal. He commanded with success during the First World War and became one of the German Empire’s most prominent military leaders. After the Armistice, Mackensen was interned for a year. He retired from the army in 1920 and was made a Prussian state councillor in 1933 by Hermann Göring. During the Nazi era, Mackensen remained a committed monarchist and sometimes appeared at official functions in his First World War uniform. He was suspected of disloyalty to the Third Reich, although nothing was proved against him at this time.
I’ve always found it a nice detail how he continued to show up in his old imperial Prussian officers uniform long after the empire had fallen. (Prussia was one of several states that unified and became Germany in the late 1800s. Before that there was no one country called Germany, it was Prussia, Bavaria, etc.)
Here he is at the funeral of Wilhelm II in 1941:
Germans who were tried and convicted as spies during the Battle of the Bulge executed; December 23, 1944
After the Malmedy Massacre (which took place just 5 days before this execution), there wasn’t much quarter given to SS infiltrators who were caught wearing stolen U.S. uniforms. Any captured SS soldier was shot, not just spies.
Knowledge of the massacre “led to considerable retaliation against German prisoners of war during and after that battle.” Few Waffen-SS soldiers came to be taken prisoner by units such as the 3rd Armored Division. An example of the aftermath of the massacre is the written order from the HQ of the 328th US Army Infantry Regiment, dated December 21, 1944: “No SS troops or paratroopers will be taken prisoner but will be shot on sight.” A possible example of a related large massacre against Germans is the Chenogne massacre.
At the Saar river the 90th Infantry Division “executed Waffen-SS prisoners in such a systematic manner late in December 1944 that headquarters had to issue express orders to take Waffen-SS soldiers alive so as to be able to obtain information from them.”
The prisoners refused the ministrations of a U.S. chaplain. They kept their nerve by singing patriotic German songs. Prisoners are blinfolded and a large white paper target is pinned over their heart. After they were officially pronounced dead, the spies were cut down by MP’s, carried away and buried. (Source)