Peiper, Joachim, born 30-01-1915 in Berlin, Gauleiter of Berlin was Josef Goebbels (did you know), more often known as “Jochen Peiper” from the common German nickname for Joachim, was a senior Waffen-SS officer and commander in the Panzer campaigns of 1939-1945. His father Woldemar Peiper was a WW I veteran, and he had two brothers, Hans-Hasso and Horst . Jochen Peiper’s second brother Hans-Hasso , born 1910, unsuccessfully attempted suicide in 1931 but was left in a vegetative state. He eventually died of tuberculosis in 1942. Horst Peiper, born 1912, on the photo right with his father Woldemar and Jochen, who served as a company commander in the recce battalion of the “Totenkopf” division, officially died in an accident in East Prussia on 11-06-1941. In reality he committed suicide after allegations of homosexuality.
By the end of his military career, Jochen Peiper was the youngest regimental colonel in the Waffen-SS, officially known as: SS Standartenführer Joachim Peiper, 1st SS Panzer Division, Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler (did you know). Peiper was recruited into the SS-Verfügungstruppe in 1935 upon his graduation from college. SS Oberstgruppenführer, Sepp Dietrich reviewed his application and admitted him into the 1st SS “Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler ” honour guard regiment, which was re-formed as a Waffen-SS combat unit at the outbreak of war. Initially he served as an Adjutant on Heinrich Himmler’s Staff
before moving onto command various Panzer units within 1st SS “Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler”. While on Himmler’s staff, Peiper met and married his wife, Sigurd “Sigi”, born Hinrich,and they had three children, Hinrich Elke Silke Mother Sigurd Hinrichsen, was a secretary on Himmler’s personal staff and a close friend of Hedwig Potthast, Himmler’s mistress. Hedwig Potthast died age 82, on 22-09-1994 in Baden Baden.
Hinrich Peiper is a attorney now. He did work for the Dresdner Bank in NYC. He is married to Dorothee Riegraf Peiper who is a collector and historian of early Native American art and artist. Hinrich currently lives in Frankfurt. He was born 14-04-1942. Elke is a language professor (retired). born on 07-07-1940. Silke was born on 07-03-1944, she was a business women.
Himmler was particularly fond of Jochen Peiper and took a keen interest in Peiper’s ascension towards command. At age 29 Peiper was a full Oberst of the Waffen-SS, well respected and a holder of one of wartime Germany’s highest decorations, the Knight’s Cross with Swords personally awarded to him by Adolf Hitler.
Peiper was a skilled combat leader and took part in a number of major Panzer battles of the war. His men were fiercely loyal to him, regarded by many as a “charismatic leader.” Peiper participated in some of the most notable battles of the war to include the two battles for Kharkov and the Kursk offensive of 1943 on the Eastern Front of Russia. Most notably, he commanded the Kampfgruppe Peiper of the LSSAH, assigned to the 6th SS Panzer Armee under Sepp Dietrich and SS Brigade General, Wilhelm Mohnke
during Operation Wacht am Rhein, Battle of the Bulge. Kampfgruppe Peiper advanced to the town of La Gleize, Belgium, before being turned back by American forces. Peiper was forced to abandon over a hundred vehicles in the town, including six Tiger II tanks, and made his way back to German lines with 800 men on foot. Peiper has been accused of, but never prosecuted for, the Boves Massacre. On another note, while in Italy, Peiper discovered that the Italian government had captured a group of Jews. Peiper had them released to him, and he then set them free. One of the Jews was a rabbi, who later wrote a testimony to Peiper’s kindness during his war crimes trial. After the end of World War II, Peiper and other members of the Waffen-SS were tried for war crimes in the Malmédy Massacre Trial. About 81 American POWs were killed during the Malmédy incident. According to John M. Bauserman (“The Malmédy Massacre”, a number of 40 of them had been shot in the head, 3 of them were killed by shrapnel, 4 of them died from bleeding, 3 of them from blow to the head, 3 of them of high explosive shells, 1 by concussion, 19 of machine gun or small arms fire, 3 were crushed, 4 died of unkown causes and 1 was officially declared dead.
Peiper, prisoner nr. 42, volunteered to take all the blame if the court would set his men free: the court refused. Major Harold D. McCown, Battalion Commander of the 30th Infantry Division 119th Regiment of the US Army,
testified during the trials that he had conversed half the night with Peiper. McCown had heard of the allegations of Peiper’s men shooting American POWs and asked Peiper if his men were safe. Peiper gave his word that McCown’s men would not be shot; McCown also testified that he had no knowledge that any POW’s were shot. Even so, Peiper was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging, as were many of his men. Peiper later requested that his men be shot by firing squad and was denied. However, due to issues with the case against them, many confessions had been ludicrously coerced by the use of mock hangings and harsh beatings of the prisoners; the sentences of many of the Malmedy defendants were later commuted to life and then to time served and Peiper was released on parole from prison at the end of December 1956, after serving 11 1/2 years, much in solitary confinement. Total casualties amongst the Waffen-SS will probably never be known, but one estimate indicates that they suffered 180.000 dead, 400.000 wounded, and 40.000 missing. World War II casualties indicates that the Waffen-SS suffered 314.000 killed and missing, or 34.9 per cent. By comparison, the United States Army suffered 318.274 killed and missing in all theatres of the war. Peiper remained friends with SS Obergruppenführer, Kommandeur 12 SS LSSAH, “Hitlerjugend”, Panzer Meyer,Waffen SS Sturmführer, member of 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler before he became Adolf Hitler’s personal adjutant, Otto Günsche, SS Standartenführer, Hitler’s body guard. Falaise Pocket, 12th SS Panzer Division, Max Wünsche and Oberstgruppenführer, Kommandeur der SS-Div “LSSAH”, Josef “Sepp” Dietrich .
Death and burial ground of Peiper, Joachim “Jochen”.
After release Peiper eventually went to live in Traves, Haute-Saône, France and supported himself as a translator. During the attack of 1940 he had been in France and he liked it, it was beautiful and peaceful. Thanks to his French nationalist friend Gauthier, he managed to buy a watermill in Traves. But the building was in bad condition and Peiper did not have the necessary means to restore it. SS-Obersturmbannführer Erwin Ketelhut finally took over the mill and Peiper had a house built for his family in Spannplate in 1960. The house was like a military fort – surrounded by bushes and was not seen from the street, but power lines leading to Peiper’s house give away its secluded position in the woods in this 1982 photo.
His mailbox was on the wooden pole on the left and was sometimes ransacked. For 16 years he was threatened and received anonymous phonecalls, but he still lived peacefully and was determined as was common to a soldier. Ironically, although Peipers tactical knowhow had kept him alive through 5 years of combat in France, Italy and Russia, he made one tactical error that cost him his life as he decided to settle in France. It does seem strange that he would choose France as a place to spend the rest of his days, but maybe he no where would really be safe. The French had been hating the Germans since 1940 and many probably couldn’t just switch off the hate at the end of the war, understandable considering massacres like Oradour-sur-Glane, and the Gestapos ruthless treatment of Resistance suspects etc. Perhaps he got a kick out of living dangerously and missed the excitement of war, so he settled in the “hostile environment” of France to try to recreate that adrenaline buzz. On 11-06-1976 Peiper was in a shop in Vesoul buying wire to build a fence for his dog. The salesman, Elsassian Paul Cacheux, a member of a communist party, recognized by his accent that he was German and asked him if he had been in France during the war. Peiper paid with a cheque that had his name and address. Cacheux checked the “brown lists” that contained all names of wanted Germans for Peiper’s name. He forwarded the information on Peiper to the French left-wingers. On 22-06-1976 a French communist newspaper “L’Humanite” published an articled entitled: “What is this Nazi doing in France?”. People demanded the government to make Peiper leave France. Leaflets were distributed in Traves where Peiper was called a war criminal and a Nazi. On the walls in Versoul people wrote: “Peiper, we’re gonna do July 14 for you!” (July 14 is a national holiday in France). Following explicit death threats there, Peiper was murdered in a fire attack on his house in the woods on 13-07-1976, age 61. The house was firebombed with Peiper inside as his wife Sigurd “Sigi”
, who had cancer, and his daughter Elke were away visiting Germany. He did not want to leave the house himself because he was afraid that it would be burnt down. His neighbour Erwin Ketelhut proposed that Peiper could spend a night in the watermill but Peiper refused. He also didn’t want Ketelhut to stay with him because Ketelhut had shot the attackers. “No,” said Peiper, “There has been enough killing already.” Jochen Peiper waited on his roof terrace from where he could see the whole area. Ketelhut had lent his gun to Peiper. 11.30 PM he heard some kind of rustle in the bushes and saw a dozen men climbing up the steep shore. He shot in the air to scare the drunk men away. They jelled at him to come out and he opened the door to talk to them. What happened next, only those know who were there. When the fire brigade found him, Peiper lay in his bedroom, on the left side with his back to the wall, one arm bowed before his chest. Nothing had fallen upon him. He died by the immense heat. The body was not cremated but shrunken. Jochen Peiper’s corps was burned and only a meter long, it had no arms or legs.
His body was really badly charred and an autopsy found smoke in his lungs, he’d gone down fighting, firing his .22 rifle and a pistol. It’s a pity he was killed like that, but sad to say, he practically asked for it. He had died approximately 1 AM and nobody was ever caught or admitted responsibility, but were suspected to be French Communists.