Murder at the Abbaye: The Story of Twenty Canadian Soldiers Murdered at the Abbaye d'Ardenne


187 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-919614-63-9
DDC 940.54'2142





Reviewed by Dave Bennett

David Bennett is the national director of the Department of Workplace Health, Safety and Environment at the Canadian Labour Congress in Ottawa.


During World War II, almost all the German military atrocities on the
Western Front were committed by the Nazi formations of the Waffen SS.
The June 1944 murder of 20 Canadian soldiers at the Abbaye d’Ardenne
was not the biggest mass murder carried out by the SS, but it was
arguably the most monstrous since it had nothing to do with military
operations. When Kurt Meyer, the regimental commander in the 12th SS
Hitler-Jugend Division, announced that the SS would take no more
prisoners, it was an incitement to cold-blooded murder, which was duly
carried out by Meyer’s subordinates in his tactical headquarters at
the Abbaye.

Colonel Campbell is a man with a mission: to preserve and revere the
memory of 20 very ordinary soldiers, mainly from Eastern Canada.
Interviews with the former comrades and surviving relatives of the dead
serve as the basis of this book’s account of their lives, their brief
experience of battle in Normandy, and the terrible circumstances of
their deaths. Campbell has combined first-hand experiences with the
secondary historical sources to produce what must rank as one of the
most discerning and revealing accounts of Canada’s part in World War

In other areas, his grasp is less sure. For example, the 12th SS was an
elite unit with an outstanding military record and a unique method of
training; as portrayed by Campbell, however, the members of this unit
were just a bunch of murderous fanatics. This poses a dilemma for
historians: are there any military virtues in an unjust war?


Campbell, Ian J., “Murder at the Abbaye: The Story of Twenty Canadian Soldiers Murdered at the Abbaye d'Ardenne,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 12, 2024,