Tuesday, 24 January 2012


Hitler conceived the Ardennes Offensive in the summer of 1944 as a powerful blow to split the Anglo-American armies and regain the initiative on the Western Front.  Overriding his generals’ objections, Hitler ordered preparations for a large-scale offensive with the ultimate objective of Antwerp.  He believed a severe setback would cause the Allied coalition to collapse, and at least permit the Germans to sue for a separate peace with the English and Americans.(above is an Aurfix conversion of my own, the only converted part is the missing rifle that I rebuilt in metal then covered in floor putty but didnt work out well to be honest)
Hitler’s plan called for a surprise armored thrust out of the heavily wooded Ardennes area of Belgium and Luxembourg.  The offensive would have to take place in poor weather to prevent Allied aircraft from swarming on the German tanks as they had in Normandy.  New “Volksgrenadier” infantry division
s were created from the remnants of units shattered in Normandy, and some of the best panzer divisions were refitted for the effort.  All operational and logistical preparations were shrouded in the greatest secrecy.  The deception was highly successful; no Allied commander really believed that the Germans were still capable of a powerful counteroffensive in the West, much less that they were actually preparing to launch it
The main thrust was to be made by the 6. Panzerarmee, organized into two panzer corps with four panzer divisions, two volksgrenadier divisions, and a parachute division.  The more powerful 1. SS-Panzerkorps included the rebuilt 1. SS-Panzerdivision, the “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler.
” Trasporto Truppe Semicingolato Tedesco Sd.Kfz. 251/1 Ausf. C, 1:72 Modellismo ESCI 8359 Along with the other panzer divisions earmarked for the offensive, the LSSAH had received an influx of new personnel and equipment.  However, the panzer divisions of late 1944 were no longer as powerful as before.  None had a full complement of two tank battalions (one of Panthers and the other of PzKw IVs).  Some had their second battalions rounded out with assault guns, while others had corps level heavy tank or tank destroyer battalions attached to replace their missing second battalions.  s. SS-Pz.Abt. 501 was attached to the Leibstandarte’s 1. SS-Panzerregiment as that unit’s second battalion
.Cannone d’Assalto Tedesco Sturmgeschütz III con Zimmerit, WTS Koblenz
Following standard German practice, the SS panzer divisions tasked organized their units for combat as combined arms kampfgruppen, or battle groups.  Kampfgruppe size and organization varied, but was roughly equivalent to a U.S. reinforced regiment or armored combat command. Carro Lanciafiamme Tedesco Panzer III (Flamm), WTS Koblenz The 1. SS-Panzerdivision’s priority kampfgruppe assigned to spearhead the attack was built around the 1. SS-Panzerregiment.  The regiment’s commander was one of the most successful Waffen-SS

armor leaders, SS-Obersturmbannführer Jochen Peiper. 
 Cacciacarri Tedesco Tiger (P) Elefant, WTS Koblenz
Peiper’s kampfgruppe included his regiment, with a mixed tank battalion of Panthers and PzKw IVs and the attached s. SS-Pz.Abt. 501.  Also attached was the third battalion from the division’s 2. SS-Panzergrenadierregiment.  This armored infantry battalion, commanded by SS-Sturmbannführer Josef “Jupp” Diefenthal, was mounted in half-tracks.  Peiper also had his regiment’s organic pioneer and self-propelled Flak companies, plus an attached battalion from the 1. SS-Panzerartillerieregiment (105mm guns), an additional battery of self-propelled guns, another armored engineer company, and an attached Luftwaffe Flak battalion.  All of the kampfgruppe’s combat elements were motorized and armored.
Each of the lead battle groups of the 6. Panzerarmee were to exploit penetrations of the American front lines made by volksgrenadier divisions, then rapidly drive to intermediate objectives on the Meuse River.  Army headquarters assigned five routes called rollbahn for the kampfgruppen to use on their way to the Meuse.
While not totally restricted to exact routes, the kampfgruppe commanders were to follow the general route of their assigned rollbahn to prevent confusion and traffic jams.  Kampfgruppe Peiper was to use Rollbahn D, which in large part twisted and turned through the hilly terrain along secondary roads barely wide enough for the tanks.  Peiper remarked to U.S. interrogators after the war that his assigned route had been fit only for bicycles.   Due to his need for swift penetration and exploitation through the restricted terrain, Peiper planned for the Tiger battalion to bring up the rear of his kampfgruppe.  The Tigers would then lead through the more open terrain past the Meuse.
The number of tanks fielded by s. SS-Pz.Abt. 501 for the Ardennes Offensive has been a matter of debate.  Records and veteran accounts indicate that the battalion received its full complement of 45 Königstigers between 3 October and 3 December 1944.  How many of these actually participated in the attack is unknown.  According to a former 1. Kompanie tank commander, some did not leave the assembly area.    The battalion was plagued with maintenance problems and breakdowns, even early in the advance.  The Army Group B situation map for 17 December 1944 shows 30 Tigers present with the 1. SS-Panzerdivision.  At least 20 can be positively identified from photographic evidence or veterans’ accounts.  It is probable that the battalion was up to full strength or nearly so by 16 December, but that only around 30-35 of the Tigers actually participated as a unit in the initial advance of Kampfgruppe Peiper.  Others were readied or repaired later and fed into the battle as available, but did not catch up with the main body.
The Tiger battalion moved by night into its forward assembly area north of Tondorf on 12 December 1944.  While the men knew that they were attached to Peiper’s regiment, the attack orders were kept secret until the last moment.  Peiper briefed his battalion and company commanders on 14 December, but the tank commanders and crews were not informed of their mission until the night before the advance

One cold freezing early morning in 1944 in the Ardennes forest, beneath snow sheets covered  with snow, Sergeant Klaus Hadderback, a dark haired 18 year old  soldier and veteran of Normandy , aimed at some ten members of an American infantry unit, he could make out the scared as shit faces of  men not wanting to be where they were. He fired in rapid succession and hit five then taking a
grenade launched it into the melee and then silence prevailed. Such was the Battle of the Ardennes.

Sepp Dietrich was put on trial for complicity in the Malmédy Massacre
 during the Battle of the Bulge. Though his direct involvement was never proved, Dietrich was sentenced to life in prison for “offences against customs and ethics of war”. Many senior German army officers came to his defence and the sentence was cut to 25 years. Dietrich was released in 1955 but was re-arrested and charged with taking part in the murders during the Night of the Long Knives of 1934. For this, he got an 18 months prison sentence. He was released in February 1958.
Sepp Dietrich died of a heart attack on April 21st 1966.

 The entire 99th Division, some fifteen thousand men, was under serious threat. This was no spoiling counterattack to hinder the 99th's attempts to penetrate to the Roer dams. Kriz had been right: the Germans had indeed been preparing for a truly massive attack. And now time was running out for the entire Checkerboard division, not just for Lyle Bouck.103
Five miles to Kriz's east, on the outskirts of the border town of Losheim, Jochen Peiper, the most decorated SS tank commander of the Third Reich, watched his point tank advance. The Panther V suddenly detonated a land mine and was put out of action. Peiper fumed as engineers were called in and began to remove the mines blocking his advance. Ironically, they were not American mines-they had been laid by Germans retreating to the Siegfried Line in October.

After Germany’s capitulation SS-Standartenführer Joachim Peiper was imprisoned and humiliated. He was accused of having ordered the execution of US POWs at Malmedy during the Ardennes Offensive. Officers and non-commissioned officers of Kampfgruppe Peiper were all physically abused. The prisoners were informed that if they did not sign the required confessions, their families would be handed over to the Soviets. The discovery of this inhumanity was later reported to Washington DC. The senate of the USA proceeded to investigate the case. This investigation took place after the verdicts had been handed down
. The prosecutions star witness, Sergeant Ahrens (US Army) was later uncovered having been giving false testimony on which basis dozens of men had been executed. Colonel Ellis, the prosecuting attorney said that he personally did not believe in the accusations. Major Hal McCown (former prisoner of Peiper) of the 30th Infantry Division came to the Malmedy Trial to testify about Peiper's honorable treatment of the American prisoners in Stoumont. Nevertheless Peiper offered himself and accepted any and all responsibility for whatever any of his men had been accused of - whether true or untrue. Peiper was sentenced to death and accepted the decision stoically. However, he was not executed because Senator McCarthy from Wisconsin US proved the courts perfidy. This did not help those men who had been killed before the inquiry ever began. After eleven years of custody Peiper was released as the last of his comrades in December 1956
.File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R65485, Joachim Peiper.jpg
No formal investigations or prosecutions were ever made concerning American and British massacres of Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS Prisoners of War (due to lack of political will or other practical and political reasons). Allied Forces committed similar atrocities both before and after the Malmedy massacre. According to American historian and Professor Stephen Edward Ambrose, who interviewed around 1,000 U.S. combat veterans, roughly 30 % told him they had seen U.S. troops kill German Prisoners of War. U.S. Army Major-General Raymond Hufft admitted when reflected on the war crimes he authorized: If the Germans had won, I would have been on trial instead of them. 

Malmedy War Crimes Trials, Dachau, Germany, June 20 1946
Jochen Peiper
In 1957, with the help of former French prisoner of war Mr. Gauthier, Jochen Peiper decided to relocate in France with his family. In 1960 he built a house in Traves (Haute-Saône), high up on the bank of the river Saône. Peiper and his family lived there quite peacefully for over sixteen years when Paul Cacheux, member of the French communist party, recognized him. This resulted in a hate-campaign openly directed by the communist party. He decided to send his beloved wife and daughter to their family in Germany. Peiper was convinced he would be unable to protect his family adequately in case of an attack. Fearing his neighbor and friend (former SS-Obersturmbannführer) Erwin Ketelhut would shoot at any attacker caused him to refuse his friend´s offer to spend the nights at his house. At 23:30 Peiper shot in the air to intimidate the intruders. He opened the door in order to talk to them. What happened afterwards can only be told by the culprits. The winner of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords SS-Obersturmbannführer Joachim Peiper’s body was found on July 14 1976 (French national holiday) without hands and feet. He died at about 01:00. His house was also burned down. The perpetrators were never identified, but were suspected to be French communists

Peiper was a acknowledged and merciless war criminal (Boves, in Ukraine. His taking part in the crimes that occured is proven. He has also acknowledged to witnessing "experimentations" in Dachau in the early war on jews and on political prisoners, so was fully aware of what was going on.
He was  a translator after the war of nostalgic war nazi witnesses books, one from the "division charlemagne", (the french that enrolled as SS in the nazi army

His murder, "probably by french communists" might smack of far right propaganda. Why not say it is indeed a mystery? The current theory given in 2 recent french books is that Peiper probably fakes his own death in the arson of his house  to avoid  being prosecuted by italian justice. Indeed, he was discovered as a war criminal by the french communiste newspaper "l'humanité" 3 weeks before his "death". And Italy (itself full of bullshit as it had never ever prosecuted one of its own war criminals, said that the trial in Germany, that released Peiper had been a mockery,
Joachim Peiper was not involved with the Malmedy massacre, the only reason that he gets s much attention about it is because he was the responsible officer of the unit that shot the soldiers. What happened at Malmedy is to this day unknown.
It is "proven" that Paul Cacheux was leader of the group that murdered Joachim Peiper, but it is unclear if it was a failed attempt to scare him, or if it was a assasination.File:Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-738-0275-10A, Bei Villers-Bocage, Panzer VI (Tiger I).jpg
The Malmedy massacre was a war crime in which 84 American prisoners of war were murdered by their German captors during World War II. The massacre was committed on December 17, 1944, by members of Kampfgruppe Peiper (part of the 1st SS Panzer Division), a German combat unit, during the Battle of the Bulge.File:Massacre de Malmedy 23-0224a-1-.gif
The massacre, as well as others committed by the same unit on the same day and following days, was the subject of the Malmedy massacre trial, part of the Dachau Trials of 1946. The trials were the focus of some controversy.File:Malmedy Massacre.jpg
  Although one might think there was no direct involvment of Peiper in the Malmedy massacre, the fact is that Peipers' "Kampfgruppe" has left a bloody trail during its run from Lanzerath to La Gleize where it was finally stopped by the US armed forces. During their trial in Dachau, Peipers and his men, but also the commander of the 6th Panzer Army, Sepp DietrichSepp.jpg were accused of having killed in cold blood more that 300 American POWs Honsfeld, Büllingen, Ondenval, Malmedy, Ligneuville, StavelotFile:Cityscape Stavelot.jpg and StoumontFile:Stoumont JPG01.jpg. Moreover, there were also charges of cold blood killing of some 90 civilians (including women and (very) young children) in Stavelot and the surrounding area.
Several testimonies of his own men made during the Malmedy massacre trial (one of the Dachau trials) and before stated he would have ordered to make no prisoners and/or to have ordered the cold-killing of some of them.

Moreover, on the East front Peiper and his men had already got within the SS troops (no less!) a reputation of mercyless soldiers since they had burned several Russian villages and killed their inhabitants.
A few kilometres north of Cuneo in Italy, lies the town of Boves. After September 8th, 1943, it became an active center of the Italian underground because of the stationing of many stragglers from the now disbanded Regio Esercito (Royal Italian Army). These partisans were led by Bartolomeo Giuliano, Ezio Aceto and Ignazio Vian. After repeated requests to surrender, the partisans refused in spite of leaflets being dropped by the SS. On the 17th of September the German commander, SS Major Joachim Peiper, ordered two gun crews to shell the town. The partisans again refused to surrender. Two German soldiers were then sent forward (as decoys) to be captured by the partisans. Hoping they would be killed, it would give Peiper the pretext for a slaughter. The parish priest, Father Giuseppe Bernardi and the industrialist, Alessandro Vassallo, were ordered to meet with the partisans and to persuade them to release the two soldiers. The priest asked Peiper 'Will you spare the town?'. Peiper gave his word and the two prisoners were released. But the blood-thirsty SS then proceeded to burn all the houses in the town after which Father Bernardi and Vassallo were put into a car to do an inspection of the devastated town. 'They must admire the spectacle' said Peiper. After the inspection, Father Bernardi and his companion, Vassallo, were sprinkled with petrol and set alight. Both were burned to death. Forty-three other inhabitants of Boves were killed that day and 350 houses destroyed. Next day, a column of armoured vehicles went up the road that led to the partisan base. A lucky shot from their only 75 mm gun destroyed the leading armoured car. After an intense fire-fight the SS retreated with heavy losses. One of the partisan leaders, Ignazio Vian, was later captured by the SS and hanged in Turin. On the wall of his cell he had written in his own blood the words "Better Die Rather Than Betray

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