Joachim Peiper and the Malmedy massacres again

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 21 Oct 2003 01:32

Well I lost I big post to the log-in monster and I ain't doing it again.
Excuse the following sarcasm, as it does little justice to what I would have posted.

I suppose the 6th SS PZ army did not have any vital mission during the Bulge while the rest of the German Army was doing its last desperate attack without fuel reserves. So the supply and fuel dumps that stretched all the way into Leige had no bearing on the German battle-plan. What is a delay of a couple hours when you busy are murdering civilians and surrendered soldiers, anyway

The three US divisions you mention were at 100% and they had all their elements right up front for first few days of they German attack since they were ready for it.

I suppose since SS are political soldiers, they don't get pissed -off when they fall behind schedule by a few minutes/hours/days or when there country or everything they don't believe in is at stake.

Poor leadership was responsible for both the mission failure and the

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 22 Oct 2003 15:18

Here is a short part of an SMU digital libary publication on "The Battle of the Bulge"
General Hodges' First Army headquarters, set up in the declasse resort hotels and casinos of the once fashionable watering place, was remote from sound of battle on the morning of 16 December, but in a matter of hours the slashing thrust of the 1st SS Panzer Division roughly altered its ordered existence. The nature of the ground along which the Americans would attempt to defend the myriad headquarters and service installations, railheads, and depots, must be explained. Southeast of Spa runs the Ambleve River, the creation of a series of tributaries flowing south from the springs and swamps of the rugged Hohes Venn. The Ambleve, bending westward, is joined by the Salm, a north-flowing tributary, at the town of Trois Ponts, then angles northwest until it meets the Ourthe River and finally the Meuse at Liege. The Ambleve and the Salm are narrow and rather minor streams; the valleys through which they course are deep-cut, with long stretches

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of steep and rocky walls. A line on the map tracing the course of the Ambleve River and its initial tributaries will pass from northeast to southwest through three important bridgeheads and road centers, Malmedy, Stavelot, and Trois Ponts. From the first two, roads led north to Spa, Verviers, and Liege. Although both Malmedy and Stavelot were administrative centers of importance (Stavelot contained the First Army map depot with some 2,500,000 maps), the most important item hereabouts was the great store of gasoline, over two million gallons, in dumps just north of the two towns.

The 1st SS Panzer Division (SS Oberfuehrer Wilhelm Mohnke) was the strongest fighting unit in the Sixth Panzer Army. Undiluted by any large influx of untrained Luftwaffe or Navy replacements, possessed of most of its T/O&E equipment, it had an available armored strength on 16 December of about a hundred tanks, equally divided between the Mark IV and the Panther, plus forty-two Tiger tanks belonging to the 501st SS Panzer Detachment. The road net in the Sixth Panzer Army would not permit the commitment of the 1st SS Panzer as a division, even if two of the five roads allocated the army were employed. The division was therefore divided into four columns or march groups: the first, commanded by Colonel Peiper, contained the bulk of the 1st Panzer Regiment and thus represented the armored spearhead of the division; the second was made up from the division's Reconnaissance Battalion; the third and fourth each comprised armored infantry and attached heavy weapons; the heavy Tiger detachment was left to be fed into the advance as occasion warranted.

Kampfgruppe Peiper on the Move

On the morning of 16 December Colonel Peiper journeyed to the advance command post of the 12th Volks Grenadier Division, whose troops were supposed to make the gap in the lines of the American 99th Infantry Division north of the Schnee Eifel through which his armor would be committed. [1] To Peiper's disgust the infantry failed in their assigned task and the day wore on with Peiper's column still waiting on the roads to the rear. The blown bridge northwest of Losheim increased the delay; for some reason the engineers failed to start repair work here until noon or later. This was not the end. In midafternoon the horse-drawn artillery regiment of the 12th Volks Grenadier Division was ordered up to support the infantry, hopelessly clogging the approaches to the bridge. Peiper himself took over the job of trying to straighten out this traffic Jam but more time was lost. It was not until 1930 that the armored advance guard was able to reach Losheim, the village which gave its name to the gap at the northern terminus of the Schnee Eifel. At this time Peiper received a radio message saying that the next railroad overpass was out, that the engineers would not get up in time to make repairs, and that he must turn west to Lanzerath

[1] The records of Peiper's unit were destroyed just before his capture. In 1945, however, Peiper was interviewed by members of the ETO Historical Section. (See Ferriss, Rpt Based on Intervs in January 1945, passim.) Much of the tactical detail used herein comes from the 3,268page trial transcript of the so-called Malmedy Case tried before the U.S. General Military Government Court in 1946. A good summary of the latter is found in a manuscript by Royce L. Thompson entitled The ETO Ardennes Campaign: Operations of the Combat Group Peiper, 16 26 December 1944 (1952), in OCMH files.

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in the 3d Parachute Division sector. This move was completed by midnight, although a number of tanks and other vehicles were lost to mines and antitank fire while making the turnabout at Losheim. At Lanzerath Colonel Peiper discovered that the 3d Parachute also had failed to punch any sizable hole through the American line, although the 1st SS Panzer Division had taken Krewinkel and so helped the 3d Parachute forward. Irritated by the hours frittered away, Peiper took an infantry battalion, put two of his Panther tanks at the point of the column, and at 0400 attacked toward Honsfeld. Opposition had evaporated. Honsfeld was surprised and taken with ease. [2]

The original route assigned Peiper's kampfgruppe ran west to Schoppen. This was a poor road, bogged with mud from the winter rains, and since the 12th SS Panzer Division had not yet come up Peiper pre-empted the latter's paved route through Bullingen. Also he had been told that there were gasoline stores in Bullingen, and a great deal of fuel had been burned during the jockeying around Losheim. Sure enough, the gasoline was found as predicted. Using American prisoners as labor, the Germans refueled their tanks. They scooped up much other booty here and destroyed a number of artillery planes on a nearby field. When American gunners commenced to shell the village the column was already moving on, although it suffered some casualties. By this time Peiper and his staff believed that the breakthrough was complete; no American troops appeared on the sensitive north flank, and only an occasional jeep scuttled away to the west of the column.

It was between noon and one o'clock of 17 December, on the road between Modersheid and Ligneuville, that the German advance guard ran into an American truck convoy moving south from Malmedy. This was ill-fated Battery B of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion. The convoy was shot up and the advance guard rolled on, leaving the troops to the rear to deal with the Americans who had taken to the woods and ditches. About two hours after, or so the dazed survivors later recalled, the Americans who had been rounded up were marched into a field where, at a signal, they were shot down by machine gun and pistol fire. A few escaped by feigning death, but the wounded who moved or screamed were sought out and shot through the head. At least eighty-six Americans were massacred here. This was not the first killing of unarmed prisoners chargeable to Kampfgruppe Peiper on 17 December. Irrefutable evidence shows that nineteen unarmed Americans were shot down at Honsfeld and fifty at Bullingen. [3]

The Malmedy massacre would have repercussions reaching far wider than one might expect of a single battlefield atrocity in a long and bitter war. This "incident" undoubtedly stiffened the will of the American combatants (although a quantitative assessment of this fact is impossible); it would be featured in the war crimes trials as an outstanding

[2] Ch. VIII.

[3] The massacres perpetrated by Peiper's troops were the subject of a special Congressional investigation: 81st Cong., 1st sess., Report of the Subcommittee on Armed Services, United States Senate, Malmedy Massacre Investigation (dated 13 October 1949). Cf., Records of the War Crimes Branch, USFET, 1946. The postwar SS view of the Malmedy incident is given in Paul Hausser's Waffen-SS im Einsatz (Goettingen, 1953), pp. 242-47

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example of Nazi contempt for the accepted rules of war; and it would serve a United States Senator as a stepping-stone toward a meteoric career. But the Malmedy massacre and the other murders of 17 December did not complete the list chargeable to Peiper and the troops of the 1st SS Panzer Division. By 20 December Peiper's command had murdered approximately 350 American prisoners of war and at least 100 unarmed Belgian civilians, this total derived from killings at twelve different locations along Peiper's line of march.

So far as can be determined the Peiper killings represent the only organized and directed murder of prisoners of war by either side during the Ardennes battle. [4] The commander of the Sixth SS Panzer Army took oath in the trials of 1946 that, acting on Hitler's orders, he issued a directive stating that the German troops should be preceded "by a wave of terror and fright and that no human inhibitions should be shown." There is conflicting testimony as to whether the orders finally reaching Peiper specifically enjoined the shooting of prisoners. There is no question, however, that

[4] Hitler's order to take no prisoners probably had wide circulation. Lt. Col. George Mabry, commander of the 2d Battalion, 8th Infantry, has stated that his unit captured a German colonel from the Seventh Army who had such an order. Ltr, Gen Barton to author, 17 Nov 59.

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some of Peiper's subordinates accepted the killing of prisoners as a command and that on at least one occasion Peiper himself gave such an order. Why Peiper's command gained the bestial distinction of being the only unit to kill prisoners in the course of the Ardennes is a subject of surmise. Peiper had been an adjutant to Heinrich Himmler and as a battalion commander in Russia is alleged to have burned two villages and killed all the inhabitants. The veteran SS troops he led in the Ardennes had long experience on the Eastern Front where brutality toward prisoners of war was a common-place. On the other hand Peiper's formation was well in the van of the German attack and was thus in position to carry out the orders for the "wave of terror" tactic-which might be excused, or so Peiper claimed, by the rapid movement of his kampfgruppe and its inability to retain prisoners under guard.

The speed with which the news of the Malmedy massacre reached the American front-line troops is amazing but, in the perfervid emotional climate of 17 December, quite understandable. The first survivors of the massacre were picked up by a patrol from the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion about 1430 on that date. The inspector general of

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the First Army learned of the shootings three or four hours later. Yet by the late evening of the 17th the rumor that the enemy was killing prisoners had reached as far as the forward American divisions. There were American commanders who orally expressed the opinion that all SS troops should be killed on sight and there is some indication that in isolated cases express orders for this were given. [5] It is probable that Germans who attempted to surrender in the days immediately after the 17th ran a greater risk than would have been the case during the autumn campaign. There is no evidence, however, that American troops took advantage of orders, implicit or explicit, to kill their SS prisoners.

The point of Peiper's column reached Ligneuville sometime before 1300, in time to eat the lunch which had been prepared for an American detachment stationed in the village. Here the road divided, the north fork going to Malmedy, the western leading on to Stavelot. Although it was agreed that the armored columns should have considerable leeway in choosing the exact routes they would follow, a general boundary line gave the 1st SS Panzer Division the southern part of the zone assigned the I SS Panzer, while the 12th SS Panzer Division advanced in the northern sector. The 12th SS Panzer Division, of course, was still back at the line of scrimmage, nor would it break into the clear for many hours to come, but all this was unknown to Peiper. He did know that the Americans thus far had shown no disposition to throw punches at his north flank. Furthermore, the 3d Parachute Division had a clear field to follow up and protect his line of communications, while the 2d Panzer Division-so Peiper understood-was moving fast in the south and roughly abreast of his own advance.

Peiper had a precisely defined mission: his kampfgruppe was to seize the Meuse River crossings at Huy, making full use of the element of surprise and driving west without regard to any flank protection. The importance of this mission had been underlined during the initial briefing at the command post of the 1st SS Panzer Division on 14 December when Peiper had been assured that his command would play the decisive role in the coming counteroffensive. There seems to have been some hope expressed among the higher German staffs that the advance guard elements of both the 1st SS Panzer Division and the Fifth Panzer Army's 2d Panzer Division would reach the Meuse within twenty-four hours of the time of commitment. The distance by road, on the 1st SS Panzer Division axis, was between 125 and 150 kilometers (about 75 to 95 miles). Peiper himself had made a test run on 11 December to prove that it was possible for single tanks to travel 80 kilometers (50 miles) in one night. Whether an entire tank column could maintain this rate of progress for a day and a night in enemy country and on the sharp turns and grades of the Ardennes road net was a matter of guesswork. [6]

Whatever schedule Peiper was using,

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Post by David Thompson » 04 Jun 2006 16:42

For readers interested in seeing the US Senate investigation of allegations of mistreatment of the Malmedy defendants, the Baldwin subcommittee report is available at:

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Post by Rauli » 05 Jun 2006 15:37

Found this:
By carefully separating fact from fiction, a clearer picture emerges of the events surrounding the infamous execution of American POWs during the Battle of the Bulge.



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Post by Kurz Patrone » 06 Jun 2006 08:22

Rauli wrote:Found this:
By carefully separating fact from fiction, a clearer picture emerges of the events surrounding the infamous execution of American POWs during the Battle of the Bulge.


Excellent read,great points and it actually takes in consideration both sides of that faithfull day.

"Most German apologists, and certainly many former members of Leibstandarte,
subscribe to the explanation given by Peiper's adjutant, Hans Gruhle,
who said that there was a gap of about 10 minutes between Sternebeck
and the command group leaving Baugnez and the arrival of the first elements of the main body of the Kampfgruppe.
During this time the Americans were left to their own devices and, since they were not marching
toward the east as would have been expected of normal POWs,
the newly arrived elements mistook them for a combat unit and opened fire.
How Gruhle could have known what happened on that tragic afternoon, however,
is a mystery since he was allegedly traveling at or near the rear of the column!"

"On the other side of the coin, many Americans subscribe to the theory that orders had been
issued at the highest level that no U.S. prisoners were to be taken and that the offensive was to be conducted i
n a wave of terror. This latter point is correct. Hitler used those words in an address to his senior
commanders only four days before the attack. However, the fact that Peiper's men sent scores of prisoners
to the rear in the normal manner during their advance earlier on the 17th belies the no-prisoners theory,
and attempts by the Americans to produce written evidence of such an order for use at the Dachau war crimes trial came to nothing."

A combination of all these factors--an angry SS lieutenant colonel in a hurry, no spare men to guard the prisoners,
no easily available route to the rear and the possibility of American combat troops arriving at any moment--must have created
a nightmare scenario for the officer in charge. It is therefore quite possible that he decided to take the simplest and most practical
way out of his dilemma by giving an order to shoot the prisoners. And it is certainly possible that Peiper himself gave such an order
before he moved on. But if it was not Peiper, who could it have been? Among those present at Baugnez at the relevant time,
there are several possibilities: Major Werner Poetschke, commander of Peiper's 1st SS Panzer Battalion; Lieutenant Erich Rumpf,
commander of the 9th SS Panzer Pioneer Company; Lieutenant Franz Sievers, commander of the 3rd SS Pioneer Company; and,
in view of his later statements about events at the crossroads, it would be unwise to exclude Peiper's adjutant, Gruhle.
There are even some, such as Lieutenant Friedrich Christ, commander of the 2nd SS Panzer Company,
and a Sergeant Beutner of the 3rd SS Pioneers, who were later accused by their own comrades of having given orders to open fire on the prisoners.

But what of the possibility that the Germans opened fire on the prisoners because there was an escape attempt?
It is after all legal to shoot at escaping POWs, and there is evidence to support this theory.
In October 1945 one of the American survivors, in a sworn statement countersigned by one of the chief prosecuting officers,
Lieutenant Raphael Schumacker, and witnessed by Sergeant Frank Holtham, said: "I decided to try to get away and walked slowly
northwardly, but upon reaching a little dirt road or lane decided not to cross the lane or go around it. Sergeant Stabulis,
Flack and I were together on this proposition. We turned around, slowly retraced our steps....The group of soldiers in front of me were
standing still and I walked slowly southwardly towards the fence at the south end of the field, more or less using the men in front as concealment.
I know that Sergeant Stabulis and Pfc Flack were behind me. About two-thirds of the way towards the fence there were no more men
to provide concealment so when I reached this point I ran towards the fence as hard as I could, crawled through it and turned
to my right and headed for the woods west of the field as fast as I could. Machine gun fire was opened up at me but I was lucky enough
to make it to the woods without getting hit and was picked up by the 30th Division a couple of days later....
I would like to add that as I came out from behind the crowd into the clear and headed for the south fence, two single shots were fired, which were either pistol or rifle in my opinion."

So how do we explain the shootings at the Baugnez crossroads on December 17, 1944?
There seem to be only two reasonable explanations. The first is that it started in response to a specific escape attempt.
Someone saw two or three Americans make the break described in a sworn statement made to Lieutenant
Schumacker in October 1945; that person then opened fire and this in turn caused a commotion in the field
as some of the prisoners tried to push through their comrades to the west. But this movement,
and the fact that at least one and probably two Americans had by then escaped from the field,
only exacerbated the situation, and other Germans in the vicinity then fired. Even if this theory is accepted,
however, it in no way excuses the deliberate killing of wounded prisoners by those Germans who then entered the field.

The other explanation is that faced with the problem of what to do with so many prisoners,
someone made a deliberate decision to shoot them. And it is significant that the majority of the American survivors
spoke of a single German taking deliberate aim with his pistol and then firing two shots at the prisoners.
The sheer number of Americans in the field and the fact that they were standing in a group meant that many
were physically shielded by the bodies of their comrades. This explanation would then require that,
after the main shooting, it was necessary to send soldiers into the field to finish off the survivors.

On May 16, 1946, Peiper and 70 members of his Kampfgruppe, plus his army commander,
chief of staff and corps commander, were arraigned before a U.S. military court in the former concentration camp at Dachau,
charged that they did "willfully, deliberately and wrongfully permit, encourage, aid, abet and participate in the killing, shooting,
ill treatment, abuse and torture of members of the armed forces of the United States of America."
The location chosen for the trial and the number of defendants was clearly significant, and it surprised no one when
all the Germans were found guilty. The court of six American officers presided over by a brigadier general took
an average of less than three minutes to consider each case. Forty-three of the defendants, including Peiper,
Christ, Rumpf, Sievers and Sternebeck, were sentenced to death by hanging (Poetschke had been killed in March 1945),
22 to life imprisonment and the rest to between 10 and 20 years. "The Law of the Victors," as it has been called in postwar Germany,
had prevailed. But none of the death sentences was ever carried out, and all the prisoners had been released by Christmas 1956.
Peiper was the last to leave prison. Sadly, incomplete and rushed investigations, suspicions about the methods used to obtain confessions,
and inadequate or flawed evidence ensured that guilty men escaped proper punishment,
and there can be little doubt that some innocent men were punished during the trial. In the final analysis, justice itself became another casualty of the incident.

All that information was taken from the link given before.


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Post by David Thompson » 10 Jun 2006 04:45

The posts on the claimed Jochen Peiper letter now have a thread of their own in the Waffen-SS and Polizei section at:

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Post by tomjax » 11 Dec 2006 01:57

Peiper was one of those prisoners at Landsberg that my uncle, the assistant Commandant in charge of the executions knew very well and had many personal conversations with. Although he cannot characterize their realtionship as friends, they talked at length about tactics and war experiences.
It is unfortunate these conversations never got around to asking Peiper about his guilt.
My uncle feels he was guilty because he was in charge of it.
A chapter of his book, captor captive, is about malmedy and Peiper.
I can send it to anyone interested as scanned text.
tomjax at yahoo. com

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Post by Pillbuster » 11 Dec 2006 07:32

Last edited by Pillbuster on 13 Dec 2006 17:52, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by alf » 11 Dec 2006 11:41

Pillbuster wrote
It would take little effort for me to ID him then consequently the unit he served in with its brand of "honor".
I am glad you have stated it will take little effort. Please do, full details. Name, Unit, where served, what dates and where these killings ttook place. etc. So those of us interested can follow the paper trail.

So far, all that has been given is boastful heresay.and the Forum requires verifable information.

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Post by David Thompson » 11 Dec 2006 18:03

Pillbuster -- Your post at ... 232#991232 is a good example of the kind of input we can do without in the research sections of AHF. Please review the forum and H&WC section rules, posted for all to see at before posting here again. Consider this your warning.

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 11 Dec 2006 21:41

Pillbuster wrote:You all need to quit your damned bitching and whining about Malmedy.
Years ago a "proud" allied veteran routinely and loudly bragged straight into the faces of all those around him about gunning down time and time again (with a sweeping motion of his arm as if holding an automatic weapon) scores of German soldiers immediately after they surrendered and were disarmed.
What he bragged about took place LONG before Malmedy and LONG before the "liberation" of the KZ.
It would take little effort for me to ID him then consequently the unit he served in with its brand of "honor".
BTW, that braggart died long ago due to health reasons, and all of the folks he bragged to are still alive and doing well. Best of all, they are German vets who listened to and tolerated that loud preponderous a-hole.

:) , My kind of tact. Makes me look reasonable. :lol: Howvever you should work on your presentation, and please give a name to this person. I suggest starting a new topic for this "claim".

"Two wrongs don't make a right", so even if you have a legitmate claim about another war-crime/war-criminal, it in no way justifies what Peiper was judged accountable for.


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Post by Otto Carius » 31 Mar 2007 01:09

but this person who kept mispelling
Joachim Peipers last name was just perturbing me.

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Post by kamehouse » 31 Mar 2007 02:08

I am not sure if it helps(i hope it does though) but in the movie saints & soldiers the action is centered around the malmedy massacre/incident.
The way they show how it happens is more a mix of confusion and panic that lead to the shooting of prisonners,nothing such as a premeditated action.
When compared to the movie "the battle of the bulge"(where all the shooting is planned) it's quite interesting how the approach of a same event is radically different in 40 years time.
Just a thought.

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Post by David Thompson » 31 Mar 2007 04:16

kamehouse -- There was more than just a single incident at one time and place, as you can see if you read the whole thread.

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Post by Penn44 » 31 Mar 2007 05:19

kamehouse wrote:I am not sure if it helps(i hope it does though) but in the movie saints & soldiers the action is centered around the malmedy massacre/incident.
The way they show how it happens is more a mix of confusion and panic that lead to the shooting of prisonners,nothing such as a premeditated action.
When compared to the movie "the battle of the bulge"(where all the shooting is planned) it's quite interesting how the approach of a same event is radically different in 40 years time.
Just a thought.
Recommend you be highly skeptical of any movie on a historical event unless you are very well versed on the event from well-researched sources. They have a long track record of sacrificing historical accuracy for sake of "story." Beware of "documentaries" as well.



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