Thank you for all the contributions, gives allways new ideas to think about.
Some points about Preuß and Peiper and my evaluation:
Preuß was disliked by his comrades. Preuß burned down his men. Preuß was tough. Preuß obeyed his orders.
There are no explanation given by vets, why Peiper liked Preuß, because they couldn´t stand Preuß, but there are enough statements from vets, that Peiper liked Preuß. (for example Gührs, Rumpf) There must have been an incident shortly before the Battle of the Bulge, therefore Preuß got the task to lead the Spitzenkompanie. But he did the job and different to Sternebeck, it was forgiven.
Nevertheless: Peiper liked Preuß, because he never said no. He was an SS-Officer as Peiper liked to have them. And for Peiper, this kind of SS-Leaders were easier to handle than critical leaders like, to mention only one, Gruhle. I can not imagine, that the proposal for the Knight´s Cross was ordered by higher command. This was done by Peiper himself. And it was influenced by his personal esteem.
The comradship between Peiper and Poetschke broke during the Malmedy trial, when it came out, that Preuß ordered or did by himself the murdering of an US soldier. This was not the bad thing in Peipers eyes, his units had murdered before prisoners and civilians in every theatre, but this murder was done, because Preuß wanted to have the boots and a ring of that prisoner. For Peiper, influenced totally by the SS ideologie of his Master Himmler, this was the exact thing Himmler mentioned in his perverted ideas: "Sauber bleiben". You are allowed to kill millions of people, but do not steal there personal items for personal advantage. This broken friendship of Peiper and Preuß for sure influenced also the evaluation of the vets after the war about that relationship.
For Diefenthal and the connection to Himmler. This old Officers from LAH knew Himmler all personal. They met during the war several times and in Diefenthals SS-file you can find the letter asking to get the command. Wisch was heavily wounded and had no influence at that time. I can not evaluate Diefenthals leadership during the Battle of the Bulge, but mostly Peiper was in his SPW, too. But all in all, for me the attack of the Battlegroup Peiper was a military desaster, I can not see any stand out leadership and therefore no reasons to give high medals at all. The medals are only a way to hide the desaster.
That´s all for now.
Thank´s again for your contributions