Joachim Peiper and the Malmedy massacres again

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tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 24 Sep 2003 15:01

Piper knew nothing about the Malmendy incident, but still was tried for it. If the allies could have gotten anything at all on Rommel or any German commander they would have been tried.

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Re: Rommel in France, 1940

Post by John W » 24 Sep 2003 15:55

Michael Miller wrote:Mr. Mills~

Rommel commanded 7.Panzer-Division in France. The order of battle for this Divsion (in "Die Deutschen Divisionen 1939 - 1945") shows no SS components, and I think it unlikely that any SS unit was ever attached to this Division while Rommel commanded it (15.02.1940 - 14.02.1941). The two 1940-vintage massacres in France with which I'm familiar are Wormhoudt, perpetrated by elements of LSSAH (under Wilhelm Mohnke?) and Le Paradis, carried out by Fritz Knochlein's company of the SS-Totenkopf-Division. I may be mistaken, but neither unit served under Rommel's command or control.

Regards,
~ Mike Miller
And if I am not mistaken, Rommel shared a dislike for the SS (partly because of his suspicions about Himmler) and made sure the SS never set foot in Afrika.

Also, like Mike pointed out, the "Geistabteilung" was the one that was commanded by Rommel. And that was ALL he was responsible for.

In anycase, his future conduct as Commander of the DAK would certainly have weighed in his favour (I am thinking like Oskar Schindler perhaps?)

@ tonyh: But wasn't Peiper in command of the KG responsible for that massacre? If so, doesn't that make him responsible?

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Post by tonyh » 24 Sep 2003 16:38

I think you are mistaken. It would have had nothing to do with Rommel if the German high command wished to post an SS detachment to the North African theatre. His "say" wouldn't have altered any command decision.

Also, Piper may have been in command. But he was miles away from Malmedy when the incident occured. And dispite all the allied efforts to pin some balme on him for ordering the incident, nothing concrete could be found.

If all you need for a proscecution of a commanding officer is that they were in charge of a guilty party then there are hundreds of officers from all sides who would be liable to face the same charge, wouldn't there?

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Post by chalutzim » 24 Sep 2003 16:47

tonyh wrote:(...) If all you need for a proscecution of a commanding officer is that they were in charge of a guilty party then there are hundreds of officers from all sides who would be liable to face the same charge, wouldn't there?


Hence, leave Peiper and another criminals alone. Moral relativism will pay the bill.

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Post by John W » 24 Sep 2003 16:55

chalutzim wrote:Hence, leave Peiper and another criminals alone. Moral relativism will pay the bill.
Moral Relativism maynot always be a bad thing...

There are cases in Hospital everyday where one has to excercise Moral Relativism (or am I confusing this with Pluralism?). I mean to say that sometimes, it needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis...


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Post by Rob - wssob2 » 24 Sep 2003 17:25

Also, Piper may have been in command. But he was miles away from Malmedy when the incident occured.


Peiper wasn't "miles away from Malmedy" when the SS shot the US POWs at the crossroads, but leading the kampfgruppe column some indeterminate distance ahead. I belive Peiper actually passed some of the US GI's, calling out "It's A Long Way to Tipperary, Boys" but I'll have to confirm that story.

And dispite all the allied efforts to pin some balme on him for ordering the incident, nothing concrete could be found.


Peiper was tried and found guilty, along with many of his fellow SS men. BTW there was plenty of "concrete" evidence found, most of it in the form of dead civilians and GI's with a bullet in the chest and a skull smashed in from a Kar98 rifle butt. The trial concerned several dozen incidents of masssacres by Peiper's men, not just the crossroads incident.


If all you need for a proscecution of a commanding officer is that they were in charge of a guilty party then there are hundreds of officers from all sides who would be liable to face the same charge, wouldn't there?


A commanding officer is responsible for the actions of his men. Period. This is common in ALL modern armies. If he's not responsible, he's not commanding.

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Post by David Thompson » 24 Sep 2003 18:17

tonyh -- You wrote:
Piper knew nothing about the Malmendy incident, but still was tried for it.


You then said:
Also, Piper may have been in command. But he was miles away from Malmedy when the incident occured. And dispite all the allied efforts to pin some balme on him for ordering the incident, nothing concrete could be found.


(1) "The Malmedy incident" -- The term "Malmedy massacre" is a general descriptive term for at least 11 separate incidents over a 6-day period, involving units of the 1st SS Panzer Division "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler," which were charged as war crimes by an American military tribunal. These war crimes charges involved the killings of:

(a) 86 captured American soldiers on the road from Baugnez , Belgium on 17 Dec 1944
(b) 50 captured American soldiers around Bullingen 17 Dec 1944
(c) 19 other American POWs at Honnsfeld, Belgium 17 Dec 1944
(d) 93 civilians at Stavelot, Belgium 18 Dec 1944
(e) 31 captured American soldiers at Cheneux, Belgium 18 Dec 1944
(f) 8 other American POWs at Stavelot 19 Dec 1944
(g) 44 American POWs at Stoumont on 19 Dec 1944
(h) 5 Belgian civilians around Wanne, Belgium 20 Dec 1944
(i) over 100 American POWs at La Gleize, Belgium on 18 Dec, 21 Dec and 22 Dec 1944

(2) "Peiper knew nothing"/"dispite all the allied efforts to pin some balme on him for ordering the incident, nothing concrete could be found" -- Peiper testified that on 14 Dec 1944 he visited the LAH headquarters and was given an order, signed by SS-Oberstgruppenfuehrer Josef "Sepp" Dietrich, which Peiper described as follows:
I can remember that in this material, among other things, was an order of the Sixth SS Panzer Army, with the contents that, considering the desperate situation of the German people, a wave of teror and fright should precede our troops. Also, this order pointed out that the German soldier should, in this offensive, recall the innumerable German victims of the bombing terror. Furthermore, it was stated in this order that German resistance had to be broken by terror. Also, I am nearly certain that in this order was expressly stated that prisoners of war must be shot where local conditions should so require it. This order was incorporated into the Regimental Order." (quoted in Charles Messenger's "Hitler's Gladiator: The Life and Times of Oberstgruppenfuehrer and Panzergeneral-Oberst der Waffen-SS Sepp Dietrich," Brassey's, London: 1988, p. 178)


Dietrich testified that he had indeed given such an order, because the Ardennes offensive represented "the decisive hour of the German people." (Messenger, p. 179). Dietrich went on to say:
"The Fuehrer said we would have to act with brutality and show no humane inhibitions. He also said that a wave of fright and terror should precede the attack, and that the enemy's resistance was to be broken by terror." (Richard Gallagher, "Malmedy Massacre," Paperback Library, New York: 1964, p. 111).


Peiper's adjutant, Hans Gruhle, confirmed the existence of the order, and Peiper's battalion commander Josef Diefenthal admitted that, pursuant to this order, he had told his men to execute captured American troops. (Messenger, p. 179).

Four other witnesses at the Malmedy massacre trial, who were not defendants, testified that Peiper told his troops:
"Drive on recklessly, give no quarter, and take no prisoners." (Gallagher, p. 111).


Peiper and Dietrich later retracted their statements, saying that they made them as the result of depression. However, the testimony of other witnesses corroborated the original confessions, and as a result Peiper and Dietrich were convicted.

For these reasons, I think your statements about Peiper are inaccurate.

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Post by TH Albright » 24 Sep 2003 21:18

As a "murky" caveat to the existence of the "no prisoners" order and Peiper's pep talk to "..drive recklessly..and give no quarter, I might add that KG Peiper (and KG Knittel) was the only element of the 6 SS Pz. Army to commit documented atrocities during the Ardennes offensive; other elements of the LSSAH, such as KG Hanson, did not, while the three other SS divisions in Dietrich's Army also were "clean". Moreover, KG Peiper did take hundred of prisoners during the offensive. While this isolation of atrocities to essentially one unit hints that maybe no order was formerly given, Peiper's position in the vanguard of Dietrich's attack leads me to believe that all concerned in the 6 SS Pz Army were prepared to sacrifice POW's to tactical expediency, perhaps even, necessity..given the timetables of the offensive. I believe Peiper let his men know that prisoners should not be taken in specific situations where local conditions of the advance did not warrant it. In most instances, KG Peiper did take prisoners. The Baugnez crossroads shootings happened in such a confused situation. Most historians think that Peiper did not order this specific shooting, and that the massacre was perpetuated under "ambiguous" circumstances. SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Werner Poetchke may have given an order for the massacre after Peiper and the point had left for Ligneuville. The shootings may have been ordered at the junior officer level based on the large numbers of prisoners in the field and the urgency to get all troops forward; both Peiper and Poetchke had been pushing the column forward at tremendous speed for hours before the shootings to make up for lost time. Other incidents of POW shootings by KG Peiper seem to have been spontaneous, small scale atrocities precipitated by enlisted and non-com personnel who were acting on the "spirit", if not orders, of their officers; while not unique to any army, these incidents were often a hallmark of WSS behavior during desparate combat, usually offensive operations. There is no doubt that Peiper and his commanders encouraged their soldiers to fight mercilessly. However, the supposed La Gleize mass shootings never happened. The murder of civilians in the Stavelot area also must be laid at the feet of the KG Peiper/Knittel command staff, for they encouraged their men to look at Belgian civilians as potential terrorists and maquisairds; the cultural origins of Reich German hostility to the "border" region Belgians is a whole story in itself. All things considered, the Malmedy "incidents" were perhaps more noteworthy for who perpetuated them (the Waffen SS), than the actual events.

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Post by tonyh » 25 Sep 2003 09:01

Rob - WSSOB wrote:
Also, Piper may have been in command. But he was miles away from Malmedy when the incident occured.


Peiper wasn't "miles away from Malmedy" when the SS shot the US POWs at the crossroads, but leading the kampfgruppe column some indeterminate distance ahead. I belive Peiper actually passed some of the US GI's, calling out "It's A Long Way to Tipperary, Boys" but I'll have to confirm that story.


If you can. As far as I knew he was nowhere near Malmedy.

And dispite all the allied efforts to pin some balme on him for ordering the incident, nothing concrete could be found.


Rob - WSSOB wrote:
Peiper was tried and found guilty, along with many of his fellow SS men. BTW there was plenty of "concrete" evidence found, most of it in the form of dead civilians and GI's with a bullet in the chest and a skull smashed in from a Kar98 rifle butt. The trial concerned several dozen incidents of masssacres by Peiper's men, not just the crossroads incident.


And what has that to do with Piper? There was no "concrete" evidence against Piper, other than he was in command. There was no order found ever. Despite all the allied efforts.

If all you need for a proscecution of a commanding officer is that they were in charge of a guilty party then there are hundreds of officers from all sides who would be liable to face the same charge, wouldn't there?


Rob - WSSOB wrote:
A commanding officer is responsible for the actions of his men. Period. This is common in ALL modern armies. If he's not responsible, he's not commanding.


That may be common in all armies, but a trial and prosecution is defintely not. Indeed, by those standards, some US commanding officers can be tried for a few shootings in Iraq today, never mind WWII. Smashing double Standards.

Tony

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Post by tonyh » 25 Sep 2003 09:35

David Thompson wrote:"Peiper knew nothing"/"dispite all the allied efforts to pin some balme on him for ordering the incident, nothing concrete could be found" -- Peiper testified that on 14 Dec 1944 he visited the LAH headquarters and was given an order, signed by SS-Oberstgruppenfuehrer Josef "Sepp" Dietrich, which Peiper described as follows:
I can remember that in this material, among other things, was an order of the Sixth SS Panzer Army, with the contents that, considering the desperate situation of the German people, a wave of teror and fright should precede our troops. Also, this order pointed out that the German soldier should, in this offensive, recall the innumerable German victims of the bombing terror. Furthermore, it was stated in this order that German resistance had to be broken by terror. Also, I am nearly certain that in this order was expressly stated that prisoners of war must be shot where local conditions should so require it. This order was incorporated into the Regimental Order." (quoted in Charles Messenger's "Hitler's Gladiator: The Life and Times of Oberstgruppenfuehrer and Panzergeneral-Oberst der Waffen-SS Sepp Dietrich," Brassey's, London: 1988, p. 178)


Thats the first time I've ever seen something like this. Someone should tell other historians, like Gordon Williamson, who states that no order was ever found. Can you corroborate the above with another source? Besides, thats an order from Sepp Deitrich, NOT piper, who was given a death sentence, while Deitrich was given just a life sentence. Don't you think that was rather harsh?

Peiper and Dietrich later retracted their statements, saying that they made them as the result of depression. However, the testimony of other witnesses corroborated the original confessions, and as a result Peiper and Dietrich were convicted.


I'm not surprised. Isn't there some "concern" surrounding the events in which these "statements" were extracted?

Bishop Wurm of Stuttgart had protested to the American authorities against what he called "terrible investigation methods which mock description." These "methods" consisted of beatings and kickings; knocking out of teeth and the breaking of jaws; starvation and solitary confinement for months without exercise or visitors or correspondence; promises of release from pain and the threat of death if the victim would sign statements incriminating others; threats of reprisals on the prisoner's wife, children and parents if he refused to sign dictated statements; mock trials in dark rooms around a table lighted only by candles around a crucifix; and bogus priests promising absolution if the prisoner would agree to sign false statements.

Lt. Colonel Ellis and Lt. Perl two of the investigators who extracted "confessions" from German prisoners of war, told Judge Von Roden of the Simpson Commission in 1949 that force was necessary in view of the difficulty in obtaining evidence. Perl said: "We had to use persuasive methods." He further admitted that these methods included "some violence and mock trials," and that the prosecution's case in the Malmedy cases rested on the evidence thus obtained.

Colonel A.H. Rosenfeld, who was Chief of the Dachau branch of the U.S. War Crimes Administration until he resigned in 1948, when asked at a press interview before leaving Germany whether there was any truth in the German allegations concerning mock trials, replied, "Yes, of course. We couldn't have made those birds talk otherwise. It was a trick and it worked like a charm."

Tony

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Post by David Thompson » 25 Sep 2003 15:39

tonyh --

(1) As I understand it, Dietrich's written order was never found. Dietrich and Peiper independently described its contents.

(2) You asked: "Can you corroborate the above with another source?" Chapter 2 of Michael Reynolds' "The Devil's Adjutant: Jochen Peiper, Panzer Leader," Sarpedon, New York: 1995, pp. 35-43, gives a lengthy description of the order, citing to interviews conducted by the US Army with SS-Brigadefuehrer Fritz Kraemer on 14-15 Aug 1945, with Peiper on 7 Sept 1945, and to a manuscript account (MS # A-877) captioned "Commitment of I SS Pz Corps during the Ardennes Offensive (16 Dec 1944-25 Jan 1945)" written by SS-Gruppenfuehrer Hermann Priess for the US Army in Mar 1946. See also Gallager's Malmedy Massacre, cited in my earlier post, pp. 110-11.

(3) You are correct in saying that the order was Dietrich's. As the quote from Peiper indicates, he incorporated Dietrich's order into his regimental order (in other words, he transmitted the order to the men of Kampfgruppe Peiper). Afterwards, Peiper supplemented the order with the verbal instructions about prisoners.

According to Reynolds' book (at p. 94), Peiper was present shortly before the POW murders at Baugnez crossroads. SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Hans Gruhle and SS-Unterscharfuehrer Hans Hillig both stated that Peiper had personally ordered Hillig to kill an American POW on 19 Dec 1944 at Stoumont, and there was also testimony at the Malmedy trial that Peiper gave orders, in the presence of SS-Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. Sickel and Hein von Westernhagen, to his men to shoot an American POW at Petit Thier. (Reynolds, pp. 247-48, 254-55).

(4) There have been a number of lurid reports regarding the use of beatings and psychological tricks to obtain confessions from the Malmedy defendants. Most of them originate with an article published in The Progressive in Feb 1949. This article appeared under the name of Judge Edward Van Roden of Pennsylvania, former chief of the US Army Military Justice Division in the European theater of operations.

There were a series of congressional hearings in the US Senate during 1949 on the alleged mistreatment of suspected German war criminals by their US guards, per the demands of US Senator Joseph McCarthy and others. These congressional hearings exonerated the US Army based on the combined testimony of the prisoners and guards. In the hearings, Judge Van Roden denied that he had written the "Progressive" magazine article on the mistreatment of suspected war criminals attributed to him.

The following quote is taken from "The Malmedy Massacre Trial," on-line at:

http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScr ... cre04.html

Shortly after this article was published in The Progressive, a Senate sub-committee disclosed that the article had actually been written by James Finucane, an anti-war activist who obtained the information used in the article from Rudolf Aschenauer, a German attorney for the accused. Finucane, who was the Associate Secretary of the National Council for Prevention of War, also gave similar information to Senator Joseph McCarthy. Finucane had heard Van Roden speak at a public meeting and had asked him if he could use his name in the byline of an article; Van Roden gave his permission. Van Roden later testified before the Malmedy Massacre Investigation Hearings Committee on Armed Services in 1949 that he had not written the article himself and that he could not confirm the allegations of physical abuse of the accused. The source for this information is "The Malmedy Massacre" written by Richard Gallagher in 1964.



"Revisionist" websites have extensively re-circulated the supposed Van Roden article. See, for example:

"American Atrocities in Germany"
http://www.codoh.com/atro/atrusa4.html

"Atrocites Americaines en Allemagne"
http://www.vho.org/F/j/RHR/6/VanRoden22-28.html

Zundelsite
http://www.zundelsite.org/english/zgram ... 00301.html

"Real History and the camp at Dachau"
http://www.fpp.co.uk/Auschwitz/Dachau/VanRoden1948.html

None of these "Revisionist" websites bother to mention that Van Roden didn't really write the article and disavowed it in testimony before the US Congress. Perhaps as a result, most people who read the article on the "Revisionist" sites tend to believe the allegations.

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Post by tonyh » 25 Sep 2003 16:04

So, as it stands...

IMT says that Deitrich gave an order (assuming that it existed) and Piper transmitted it to his men (alledgedly). Piper and others, mostly draftee teens and non-coms give various "statements" but no written order is found despite all the efforts and Piper gets the death sentence and Deitrich gets life. Later Piper and Deitrich retract these "Statements". A furore over how the "Statements" were obtained arises and reaches back to the US. Subsequently the death sentces are commuted. the US army finds their own men "not guilty" of torturing the prisoners into giving false statements.

I still see no real concrete evidence against Piper for such a sentence. Just hearsay and some very dubious "statements", extracted under very dubious circumstances.

As far as I'm aware, the malmedy incident was not the only situation where the 1 SS Pan. Corps bagged POWs. In other POW's were captured, but not killed. Why would a verbal order be "obeyed" here, but not elsewhere? I think the actions at Malmedy were more unfortunate accident due to the green-ness of the young troops, rather than the strict adherence to a verbal "no prisoners" order, but a crime none the less. Much like we have seen green trigger happy nervous US troops in Iraq behave recently. However, somebody's head had to roll. Why not Piper, the commander of the men in question? The "evidence" against him is extremely flimsy at best.

BTW, I cannot gain access to "revisonist" websites due to a firewall.

Tony

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Post by David Thompson » 25 Sep 2003 22:41

tonyh -- I think the situation could be more accurately summarized this way:

(1) There was an order for the Ardennes offensive. The command units involved issued orders to their subordinate units. In accordance with this practice, the SS 6th Panzer Army issued orders to its subordinate units, including the SS Ist Panzer Corps, the SS 1st Panzer Division LAH, and Kampfgruppe Peiper. After the war, no copy of the written order from the SS 6th Panzer Army, could be found. (Your statement, "assuming that it existed," suggests that a veteran commander of an Army-sized unit of the Waffen-SS might not have committed the Ardennes offensive plan to writing when he instructed his subordinates how to carry out the attack. Can you think of a single example of a commander over the last 150 years who directed a major offensive operation solely on the basis of easily misunderstood verbal orders?)

(2) Dietrich, commander of the SS 6th Panzer Army, Fritz Kraemer, chief of staff of the SS 6th Panzer Army, Priess, commander of the SS Ist Panzer Corps, Peiper, commander of the 1st SS Panzer Regiment and Kampfgruppe Peiper, and Peiper's former adjutant, Gruhle, each independently and at different times gave affidavits describing the contents of the lost order. They agreed that the order stated
"that a wave of fright and terror should precede the attack, and that the enemy's resistance was to be broken by terror."
Peiper stated:
"Also, I am nearly certain that in this order was expressly stated that prisoners of war must be shot where local conditions should so require it."


(3) Peiper, and four members of Peiper's command, testified that Peiper passed this order on to his subordinates. Four non-defendant witnesses -- mebers of Peiper's command -- testified that Peiper verbally added
"Drive on recklessly, give no quarter, and take no prisoners."


(4) Other witnesses said that Peiper was present immediately before the murder of US POWs at Baugnez crossroads, and had personally ordered the shootings of American POWs on two other occasions. On both occasions Peiper's order was carried out.

(5) Later, when they were charged with war crimes and put on trial by an American military tribunal at Dachau (not the IMT, as your synopsis has it), Dietrich and Peiper retracted their statements as they pertained to the question of responsibility for the cluster of murders of POWs and civilians which occurred over a 6-day period in and around Malmedy.

(6) Dietrich was sentenced to life imprisonment, while Peiper and others were sentenced to death in Jul 1946 for their involvement in the murders of American POWs and Belgian civilians. A year or more later, after the verdicts and the death penalties were confirmed, some of the prisoners raised questions about their confessions and their treatment by the US Army.

(7) The US Senate (not the US Army, as your synopsis had it), held a series of hearings on this topic. Both US personnel and German POWs had their statements and claims reviewed by the US Senate subcommittee investigating the issue. The US Senate subcommittee found that the prisoners had not been tortured into making their confessions, but that the US Army interrogators had used dubious methods such as falsely informing defendants that they had been implicated by others, and "mock trials" to induce some of the confessions. (Note that these allegations do not pertain to the 4 non-defendant witnesses against Peiper, nor do they necessarily establish that the factual claims in the other statements given by the defendants were "false.").

(8) As it became apparent that the "cold war" was going to be a long running show, the co-operation of West Germany became more important to the western allies in presenting a united front against communism in Europe. Beginning in late 1950, the US began to commute the sentences of many German war crimes defendants, including those in the Malmedy massacres trial.

(9) You said:
I still see no real concrete evidence against Piper for such a sentence. Just hearsay and some very dubious "statements", extracted under very dubious circumstances.
The expression "hearsay" means an unsworn or out-of-court statement of someone who cannot be cross-examined (because they aren't available as witnesses), made to show the truth of a matter. The statements in this case were made under oath, and most of them were made in court, so they cannot fairly be characterized as hearsay.

The purpose of this section of the forum is to present facts and reasoned discussion on issues of WWII history. The goal is to present the readers with the best information on which to come to a conclusion. Having made that point, I think that the questions of whether Peiper ordered the killings of POWs and Belgian civilians by his unit around Malmedy, whether he subsequently changed his mind about continuing this course of conduct when it became clear to him that the offensive would fail, whether Peiper did anything to punish the men in his unit who committed the war crimes, and whether he is probably guilty or innocent of the charges against him, can now be left to the readers to decide

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Post by John W » 25 Sep 2003 23:28

David Thompson wrote:
"Drive on recklessly, give no quarter, and take no prisoners."
Hi David:

This is an interesting quote and I would like to clariffy something. I for a second don't really think that that quote is wrong. My own brother gave a similar command when he was attacking enemy bunkers during the Kargil War :

"Maaro saalon ko. Kisi ko chodna nahi, kisi ko bacchke bhagne nahin dena. Hamlaa!"

Translated, it would mean:

Kill the <expletive>. Don't spare anyone and don't let anyone escape. Attack! Would this be considered objectionable? I think not because IMHO, Peiper could just be rallying his men before a battle? Or is it objectionable because of the 'take no prisioners' part?


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Post by David Thompson » 25 Sep 2003 23:53

Sturm -- You recounted a similar order you'd heard, and then asked:
Kill the <expletive>. Don't spare anyone and don't let anyone escape. Attack! Would this be considered objectionable? I think not because IMHO, Peiper could just be rallying his men before a battle? Or is it objectionable because of the 'take no prisioners' part?


SS-Sturmbannführer Josef Diefenthal, a battalion commander (III/2.SS.Pz.Gdr.) in Kampfgruppe Peiper, stated that pursuant to Peiper's order he had told his men to execute captured American troops. (Messenger, p. 179). And of course, there's also the witness testimony that Peiper personally ordered American POWs to be shot on two other occasions after Peiper had given his original order to
"Drive on recklessly, give no quarter, and take no prisoners."


Refusal to give quarter (accept the surrender of one's opponent) has been disreputable for at least 500 years, and has been a war crime for 100 years or more. The same is true of murdering prisoners.

You gave the example
Kill the <expletive>. Don't spare anyone and don't let anyone escape. Attack!
Back in the olden days when I used to wear green every day, such a command was usually phrased "Hit them hard and don't let up until the enemy is dead or surrenders!" If American troops in my time (1970-78) were given a command like the one in your example, they would ask the officer directly something like "Are you saying to take no prisoners?" (emphasis in original).

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