Joachim Peiper

Joachim Peiper born 30 January 1915 – 14 July 1976, also known as Jochen Peiper, he was a member of the after joining the Hitler Youth from the age of 18, a member of the German SS and a war criminal who was responsible for the 1944 Malmedy massacre of American prisoners of war. During World War II in Europe he served as personal adjutant to Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, between September 1939 and September/October 1941, and thereafter as a Waffen-SS commander.

During his career with Himmler, Peiper witnessed the SS policies of ethnic cleansing and genocide in Eastern Europe; he persistently denied or obfuscated this fact following the war. Transferred to a combat role, Peiper served in the SS Division Leibstandarte on both the Eastern and the Western Fronts, commanding a battalion and then a regiment. He fought in the Third Battle of Kharkov and the Battle of the Bulge. Peiper’s command became known for atrocities against civilians and prisoners of war.

Peiper was convicted in the Malmedy massacre trial and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted, with Peiper serving 12 years in prison. He was accused of committing the Boves massacre in Italy; the investigation was closed due to insufficient evidence that Peiper issued the order to kill civilians directly. After his release from prison, he worked for both Porsche and Volkswagen, before moving to France, where he worked as a freelance translator. Throughout, Peiper maintained frequent, albeit discreet, contact with his SS network, including HIAG, a Waffen-SS lobby group. Peiper was murdered in France in July 1976, after his identity as an SS-man and war criminal had been publicized there. A relatively insignificant combat leader, Peiper achieved cult status among those who romanticise the Waffen-SS. With his good looks and a multitude of awards, Peiper came to represent the image of the daring Panzer divisions. The admiration continues to the 2010s, with the official Facebook account of the US Department of Defense featuring a glamorized picture of Peiper to commemorate the 2019 anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. In fact, Peiper was an embodiment of the Nazi ideology and an egocentric, ruthless commander who ignored his own losses and created a culture within his unit where war crimes were not only tolerated but expected.

Ben Davidson

Hello, I have been studying all aspects of history for about 25 years. I have a BA History from the University of Bedfordshire. My historical areas of interest are anything really, but I specialise in 19th - 20th century Britain, America and Ireland. I am also strongly aligned with most military history, really enjoying WW2 and the US Civil War. Chuck in the king or queen and Bob's your uncle.

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