Knight's Cross holders of the Kampfgruppe Peiper.

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Davy
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Knight's Cross holders of the Kampfgruppe Peiper.

Postby Davy » 31 Aug 2005 10:33

Hi,

i'm looking for all the Knight's Cross holders who was fighting in the Kampfgruppe Peiper and the 150.Panzer Brigade,
during the Battle of the Bulge.

These names have i already found:

Kampfgruppe Peiper:

Jochen Peiper - SS.PzRgt.1
Werner Pötschke - I./SS.PzRgt.1
Konrad Heubeck - 1./SS.PzRgt.1
Franz Staudegger - 1./s.SS.PzAbt.501
Josef Diefenthal - III./SS.PzGrenRgt.2
Georg Preuss - 10./SS.PzGrenRgt.2


150.Panzer Brigade:

Otto Skorzeny
Adrian von Foelkersam - Kampfgruppe X

and are there pictures of them during the Battle of the Bulge,
i know there ore non of Peiper.

Other info about these units are also welcome.

Thanks Davy.

Jan-Hendrik
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Postby Jan-Hendrik » 31 Aug 2005 10:56

Add Hauptmann Walter Scherf , Commander of Kgr. Y /PzBrg. 150 ...

Jan-Hendrik

jeweste
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Postby jeweste » 31 Aug 2005 15:16

As far as I can see, during the Battle of the Bulge the Elements of the Leibstandarte of Kampfgruppe Peiper
had only two Knight´s Cross Holders involved in the fights.

SS-Obersturmbannführer Joachim Peiper RK: 09.03.1943; Oakleaves: 27.01.1944
SS-Sturmbannführer Werner Poetschke RK: 04.06.1944

Georg Preuß was proposed by Peiper 26.12.44 and got the medal on 05.02.1945.
Josef Diefenthal was proposed by Peiper 28.12.44 and got the medal on 05.02.1945.

I would be interesteing in opinions about this two proposals by other forum readers. There are rumors, that Diefenthal took over command of the SPW-Bataillon by his good connection to Himmler and that he should get the Knight´s Cross by this command.
For Preuß: He was one of Peipers darlings, was lost during the offensive several times, missed the road, lost half of his company by driving into enemy ambushes. I cannot see any actions worth for the Knight´s Cross. Especially, were are the on one´s own decisions and the battle decisions for levels above.
Isn´t it amazing, that Peiper proposed two officers of his former SPW-Bataillon, but not a single one of his Tank regiment. If he was able to propose Preuß, SS-Obersturmführer Werner Sternebeck should have been proposed too.
For me, this is one indication, that Peiper gave medals specially to men he liked. And I got the impression, that he liked his former SPW-Bataillon much more then his Tank-Regiment. In the SPW Bataillon he was surrounded by friends like Guhl, Wolff, Dinse, Preuß and Gührs. Too many SS-Officers of the Tank regiment criticised Peipers leadership style.
A provocative thesis: Didn´t Peiper left the last remainings of the tank regiment everytime, after the regiment was burned down under his command. Russia january 44, Normandy august 44, Ardennes x-mas 44? He got the medals while his tank commanders were killed in the shoot down "Panthers". When he took over command in Russia Nov. 43, during one month under his leadership 6 out of 8 of his company commanders were killed or heavily wounded.

Poetschke was proposed for the oakleaves by Peiper 26.02.45, not so much for his actions at the Ardennes, but for his actions during Operation "Südwind".
Heubeck got the Knight´s Cross 17.04.1945, I assume, that he was proposed by Poetschke/Peiper for his actions during the Operation "Südwind", the fights at the Gran-Bridgehead and not so much for his actions during the Battle of the Bulge.

Greetings
Jeweste

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Postby Tolga Alkan » 31 Aug 2005 17:26

In the SPW Bataillon he was surrounded by friends like Guhl, Wolff, Dinse, Preuß and Gührs


I was thinking to point out that while reading first sentences of your post.This is a good point and I can agree with you Peiper seems to be doesn't focused on his young panzer crews.I wish I could have able to speak German and read your book about him.

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Davy
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Postby Davy » 31 Aug 2005 18:48

Hi,

i found that Diefenthal won his Knight's Cross on 18 december 1944 in Stavelot.
He was in the head of the Battallion and attacked Stavelot and so keeping the bridge
open for the maingroup of the Kampfgruppe Peiper.

Is this correct and was this action so spectacular for winning a Knight's Cross or was Diefenthal
just in the Kampfgruppe for commanding a fighterunit so he can win a Knight's Cross, such as Jeweste said?

Nothing more about the 150.Panzer Brigade?

Thanks for the info, Davy.

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Postby Marc Rikmenspoel » 31 Aug 2005 19:13

Jens brings up good points. I don't have any answers, but it is a topic I have too considered, and it is well worth further investigation.

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Postby Simon V. » 01 Sep 2005 02:53

A few remarks on Diefenthal and Preuss. First of all I wasn't aware that Preuss and Peiper were good friends? What is your source for this information. In fact I've heard that their relation wasn't too good. My source (a LAH Veteran who knew Preuss personally) states that Preuss was liked and respected by the higher command, and that this could have been the reason why he got the RK after all. He was a capable officer, with experience as OO, Adjutant, Zugführer and Kompaniechef. He was however '(in)famous' for his aggressive combat style. Furthermore he took over the SPW Btl. after Diefenthal got wounded at the end of March '45.

If Diefenthal was ready to command the SPW Btl in July 1944? Difficult to judge. Fact is that he was a good and well experienced officer with a long carreer in the LAH. He served as Zugführer, Adjutant of the 2.Pz.Gren.Rgt. LAH and Kompaniechef. After his wounds in November 1943, he returned to the LAH and was send to the Div.Stab. where he only stayed for a couple of days, after which he took over the SPW Btl. Diefenthal had been the Adjutant of Wisch (at that time Div.Kdr.) for quite some time, while Wisch commanded the 2.Inf.Rgt. / 2.Pz.Gren.Rgt. LAH. So it wouldn't surprise me that Wisch forwarded Diefenthal when the SPW was in need of a new leader. However Diefenthal didn't have much experience with commanding units higher then Kompanielevel. Nonetheless I don't think he did such a bad job as Btl.Kdr. I wonder where the connection Diefenthal-Himmler comes from?

Simon

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Postby Harro » 01 Sep 2005 03:17

I recently talked with an LSSAH officer who was send to a Btln. commanders course in France in May 1944. He told me there was also an officer from PGR2 LSSAH present who he described as a real goof. Stupid and his French was ludicrous. He did not want to give his name but is there any chance this was Diefenthal?

Jeweste, check your email for further info. I think a recommendation for Sternebeck was difficult at that time, following the disiplinary problems he had shortly before the Ardennes campaign started.

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Postby jeweste » 01 Sep 2005 13:39

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
jeweste

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Reader3000
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Postby Reader3000 » 01 Sep 2005 14:57

I guess the facts jeweste mentioned about the "Sauber bleiben" and Peiper being highly influenced by Himmler are due to the fact that Peiper was some time Himmler's Adjutant.

*edit*: Wisch was recovering from his leg wounds he received in the Falaise pocket.

Marc Rikmenspoel
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Postby Marc Rikmenspoel » 02 Sep 2005 06:54

The posts mentioning a veteran's name have been deleted, at the request of Simon V., this is not intended as an attack on anyone, and nothing more should be read into it than that Simon wished the name to remain private, and so it will. Carry on, everyone :D

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Postby pimberg » 02 Sep 2005 08:28

From what I have "heard" and read in parts, Jens seems to be correct in his assessment of Preuss. A possible extreme example is the story, whether it is true or not, is that Preuss had the nickname of "Gut Gut". It seems when he heard that one of his men got injured (or killed !!) he mockingly (allegedly) stated "goody goody - that means another free girl for me" or something to that affect ! This information can be found in the "Malmedy transcripts".

I really don't know if it is true.

A fact is that Preuss lived a very lonely life in his final years, living in a dwelling with only a dirt floor dying alone.

A veteran, who recently passed away, only had good things to say about Preuss. However he only served with Preuss prior to the war and in the very early months.

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Harro
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Postby Harro » 05 Sep 2005 10:43

jeweste wrote: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.

And more: none of the LSSAH Kampfgruppen managed to achieve much. Not Hansen, but certainly not Sandig or Knittel, apart from keeping the Amblève Kessel open, which gave Peiper and his men their chance to escape. Without Jürgen Brandt and his tank, the whole pocket would have collapsed under the pressure of Task Force Lovelady at Trois-Ponts on December 20th, and Peiper and his men would have been trapped.

I am still glad that your book about Peiper deals with the myth in an honest way and pinpoints the flaws and errors of those people who created the myth or keep it alive. It still strikes me as odd that so many books focus on Kampfgruppe Peiper and present its advance through the Ardennes as an outstanding example of Peipers leadership and of the supremacy of the Leibstandarte (or even de Waffen-SS in general).

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Davy
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Postby Davy » 12 Sep 2005 21:02

Hi,

i'm not sure, but was Hauptmann Albert Ernst the commander of the Tank Company of Kampfgruppe Y?
He won the Knight's Cross as Zugführer of the 1./Schw.PzJägAbt 519 on 22/1/44.
Does anyone have a picture of him?


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