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Jochen Peiper


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#1 Keystone Two-Eight

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 10:53 PM

Recently purchased the book " Jochen Peiper, Battle commander SS Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler" by Charles Whiting on amazon for $2.32 U.S. (in hardback). I have started reading it, and it is a pretty interesting read so far, but I cant help but feel that there is an under current of sympathy for Peiper in mr. Whitings words, almost to the point where it seems pro nazi. He claims that while Peiper -as commander of the forces in the area- was indeed ultimately responsible for the Malmedy massacre, he nonetheless was innocent of it because he wasnt exactly present for the executions. he goes on to question why an investigation into Peipers murder has not been forthcoming.

Has anyone else read this book, and if so, did you come off with the same feelings I did?
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#2 Martin Bull

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 07:11 AM

Hello Keystone Two-Eight

I haven't read this book, and I have to come right out and say that I'm not a fan of Charles Whiting's books ( we've discussed him here some time ago ). However, unlike some authors, he doesn't have a 'Nazi bias' but I find most of his work superficial and his sources are thin. However, he was one of the last authors to actually interview Peiper ( shortly before he died ) and Whiting certainly seems to have capitalized on that fact and maybe fallen under the 'Peiper spell' somewhat.

Peiper is of course an interesting and controversial subject and has become a cult figure in certain quarters. The most comprehensive biography is the enormous one by Patrick Agte who is unashamedly biased toward his subject ( loads of great photos, though ).

IMPO, one of the better books about Peiper is 'The Devils Adjutant' by Michael Reynolds, which focuses on the actions of KG Peiper in the Ardennes. As a soldier himself, Reynolds stick to the more military viewpoint.

My own viewpoint is that Peiper was a dedicated, ruthless and totally professional Nazi ( in this case, yes, Nazi ) soldier. And although maybe he didn't pull the triggers himself, KG Peiper undoubtedly did some very unsavoury things in the Ardennes and he was the guy in charge. I wouldn't have liked to have been an inexperienced GI or innocent Belgian civilian suddenly being confronted with elements of KG Peiper.
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#3 PzJgr

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 11:29 PM

I have 'The Devil's Adjutant' and agree with your assessment. It almost seems like there has been a surge of sorts on producing 'new' books on old topics with an emphasis on 'opinion' rather than fact. maybe it is just me.
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#4 TheRedBaron

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 12:43 AM

Dont read the Williamson bio of Peiper then... Utter tosh.

He goes on about Peiper saving Italian jews and being an honourable 'knight'... Not too mention laying it on thick about him 'defending his home' against terrorists.

Peiper was a good commander... But he was brutal and utterly ruthless.
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#5 Skipper

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 07:24 AM

Well said the fact that he was a good commander does not take away the fact that he was a war criminal. There will always be people like Williamson to defend him, I ignore them.

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#6 Vince Noir

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 10:11 AM

Peiper is one of the many Waffen-SS who has been 'glorified' over the last 20 years.

There seems a need with some historians to portray these men in a very favourable light. They were products of their times, brutalised in war for an evil regime. Trying to portray them as some sort of herioc ideal worrys me greatly.
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#7 bigfun

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 01:01 AM

thanks for this guys, as I have been wanting to read of this for some time, now I have a few books to consider!

thanks again!!
Scott :flag_USA_ww2: :flag_netherlands:

#8 FalkeEins

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 07:06 PM

Peiper is one of the many Waffen-SS who has been 'glorified' over the last 20 years.

There seems a need with some historians to portray these men in a very favourable light. They were products of their times, brutalised in war for an evil regime. Trying to portray them as some sort of herioc ideal worrys me greatly.


..well said ...

#9 Jim Baker

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 09:33 PM

Dont read the Williamson bio of Peiper then... Utter tosh.

He goes on about Peiper saving Italian jews and being an honourable 'knight'... Not too mention laying it on thick about him 'defending his home' against terrorists.

Peiper was a good commander... But he was brutal and utterly ruthless.


Williamson? What is the title of this book?

Thanks!!

#10 Paul Errass

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 12:23 PM

Got to agree with Martin re Michael Reynolds book but the best i have ever read is Patrick Agte's Jochen Peiper Commander Panzer Regiment Leibstandarte.

Ignoring the obvious bias of Agte towards Peiper and the Nazis in general the book contains some of the best accounts of the Leibstandarte in many of the most famous Battles on the Eastern and Western fronts due to the fact that Agte has access to more original paper work, accounts and veterans personal archives than anyone .

It's big and it's expensive but for the photos alone it's worth it . The way the section on the attack on the first day of the Kursk battle was written made me feel as though i was actually there !!

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Paul
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#11 Skipper

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 04:57 AM

Hi doc, no need to post the same post three times, our members will read this one.

Fascinating? Hmm, just about how fascinating a crimininal could be. Are you admiring this murderer? I am not.

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#12 Martin Bull

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 06:22 AM

This seems to fit the Patrick Agte view of Peiper which, for sure, is not shared by many others. The 'correct treatment of Allied prisoners' ( such as McCown ) happened when, as I'm sure would have been obvious to the undoubtedly highly intelligent Peiper, defeat started to look inevitable......
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#13 FalkeEins

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 04:31 PM

..is it Reynolds who presents evidence of Peiper's 'mental breakdown' and subsequent absence from the front throughout the Normandy battles ...?

#14 Martin Bull

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 05:37 PM

Not so much evidence, as lack of......

Reynolds discusses ( on pp 247/248 of his book ) the fact that all mention of Peiper in German records or memoirs vanishes from 20th Decmber '44 to 4th February 1945 ( when he was awarded the Swords...). there is simply no mention of Peiper being involved in the Leibstandarte's actions around Bastogne. He next appears in an operational capacity in Hungary in February.

Reynolds suspects that Peiper was 'resting' in the interim period.
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#15 Martin Bull

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 06:26 AM

I can understand the point you're trying to make ( even though something tels me that this thread could easily degenerate into a 'flame war'...;) )

It would be foolish to deny that Peiper is a most interesting character of WWII and certainly at times I've almost fallen under the spell of Peiper mythology. His story to me is yet another warning against the perils of Fascism or any other kind of extremism. He was undoubtedly handsome, charming, intelligent and capable. Membership of the Nazi Party seems rather a red herring - until the end of his life, in interviews he was an unrepentant Nazi.

The fact remains that, in the Ardennes, although he may not have pulled the trigger it was only his unit which was involved in so many instances of prisoners and civilians being shot out of hand. The cynic in me says that, in the cellar at La Gleize, the prospect of being captured by the Americans was imminent and may have led to a softening of his own attitude toward US prisoners. And I always find the famous photo of Peiper at Himmler's side, visiting a concentration camp, rather chilling. Ordinary guy ? No.

To me he's a warning from history. And yes, as long as books are written about him and the Leibstandarte, I'll still read them........:o
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#16 ptimms

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 08:21 AM

Sorry I can't accept fact he behaved well to some prisoners means that he had a change of heart in the West, his command was responsible for several massacres in the Ardennes.

The issues with his brothers are interesting and not so well known, the elder brother attempted suicide at school and was left brain damaged dying in 1942 of tuberculosis. His younger brother (also in the SS) died in a car crash but there are suggestions he commited suicide after being accused of being a homosexual. Add this to the breakdown suggestions (and of course the strains of years of combat) and I think we have a very troubled man not the heroic Nazi knight some would have you believe.


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#17 FalkeEins

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 09:29 AM

there is also the international context - the 'real' enemy was suddenly not a 'beaten and bowed' Nazi Germany but the Iron Curtain sweeping across Europe. Hastings makes the point in his latest work that Americans in general - to paraphrase him - " had a hard time getting worked up about the Germans, barely regarded them as enemies and could only be stirred into action when their buddies were killed ..." (comment on Bradley's Army made by US commentator...)

both these factors go some way to explaining the " favourable " testimony delivered by US officers on Peiper's behalf at his trial...

#18 Timo

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 02:58 PM

Peiper is a fascinating character....I find it profound that he could be such a high ranking SS officer and former adjutant for Himmler and NOT be an official member of the Nazi party!

Peiper was a member of the NSDAP: he was registered on March 1, 1938, under Party-No. 5508134. Not being a party member is just one of many myths he created about himself after the war (in this case in an interview with Charles Whiting)

I think Peiper may have been a much better man than history credits him and that the barbarian and savage experiences on the Eastern front probably would demean and degrade the sensibilities and integrity of any military man placed in that situation. However, his appropriate treatment of American POW's during the Battle of Bulge (Lieutenant Colonel in US Army testified on his behalf at his Dachau trial) stands in profound contrast to his purported involvement in the Malmedy massacre which seems to be limited considering he was not at the scene when it happened but appropriately accepts responsibilty for his men's actions as their commanding officer. A most fascinating, controversial, and I suspect tormented man. This is what makes history interesting. I'm a newbie to this blog so I'd be interested in hearing other opinions and comments of my "psychological profile" for Jochen Peiper!

It is quite clear that Peiper was kind to his American prisoners once he realized that he was surrounded in La Gleize. He was trapped and is was far from certain that his daring escape back to the German lines would be successful. From his point of view he could very well become a POW himself in the very near future and - with the Malmédy massacre and all the other murders his men committed in the past week in mind - he could use all the goodwill he could get and you must keep that in mind if you read about Peiper and McCown. In the end Peiper toured the concentration camps as adjudant of Himmler and gave ice-cold descriptions of how he witnessed the gassing of prisoners.
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#19 Martin Bull

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 07:22 AM

Thanks for putting the record straight, Timo.

Of all the people to have secured Peiper's last-ever interview, it had to be Charles Whiting.:rolleyes:
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#20 scipio

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 07:49 AM

Attached File  peiperdoll-1.png   217.36KB   4 downloads
Some very sensible comments and information on this thread.


I just wondered what the consensus view would be on the Question of the rash of Boys "Dolls" featuring Peiper and other heros of the Waffen SS.

Is it harmless fun for eight year olds?

Personally I find these developments obnoxious and wonder just where they ultimatley lead.

#21 Carronade

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 01:52 PM

I just wondered what the consensus view would be on the Question of the rash of Boys "Dolls" featuring Peiper and other heros of the Waffen SS.

I'm not familiar with those, where are they made and sold? I could maybe see the Waffen-SS being represented in a series of WWII dolls, but if it's just the SS, that would be disturbing.

#22 Martin Bull

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 06:18 PM

If we're referring to the Dragon 1/6 scale models, sale of them is forbidden to anyone under the age of 14. Also, the circa £50 price-tag puts them outside the scope of most eight-year-olds' pocket money, I would guess.....
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#23 scipio

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 11:27 PM

Yes - I checked on the doll and at $99, it is obviously too expensive for a child.

However looking on the internet I did however see a poor looking Max Wunsche - made in HongKong for £9.

#24 tomahawk

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 04:07 AM

Just finished reading The Longest Winter by Kershaw, outstanding story of the 18-member 394th I&R platoon that impedes and delays Peiper's attack by nearly an entire day, and in it the commander of the platoon, LT Lyle Bouck, tells of writing to Peiper in the 1950's and inviting him to a reunion which Peiper declined. In his letter to Peiper, LT Bouck says "I know you faced charges of having your men shoot prisoners of war at Honsfeld, Bullingen, and Malmedy. Because we were not molested after a day of severe battle with the best German troops, I have always thought you had been accused of something for which you had no control. It is well known that in the heat of battle tempers flare and men will do things that they normally would not do. Many situations like this happened also in with our troops." (page 273). What an interesting comment coming from someone who was there and in direct contact with Peiper although as a prisoner at the CafeScholzen and how much in contrast to the theme and content of many posters here. It has changed my perspective of Joachim Peiper.

#25 TD-Tommy776

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 02:16 AM

While I was searching a different topic in CARL, I came across a document titled, War Experiences of commanders of German Panzer units.

The abstract reads:

Accounts by General Sepp Dietrich and Colonel Joachim Peiper, Commander of the First SS Panzer Regiment, First SS Panzer Division, and their involvement in World War II, between 1939 and 1945. The account was written by them for the trial judge advocate while they were awaiting trial for the Malmedy Massacre.


I figured this was as good a place as any to post the link, in case anyone is interested.

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