|SS-Obersturmbannführer Joachim Peiper|
ϟϟ-Kampfgruppe Peiper and the Malmedy Massacre
During the Ardennes Offensive 84 US POWs were killed by their German captors. From the official story it appears that the shooting started when some of the prisoners made an attempt to escape. The Malmedy massacre was committed on December 17 1944 by members of the Leibstandarte SS. This led to considerable retaliation against German POWs. Few Waffen-SS Grenadiers came to be taken prisoner by units such as the 3rd Armored Division. An example is the written order from the headquarters of the 328th US Army Infantry Regiment, dated December 21 1944: No SS troops or paratroopers will be taken prisoner but will be shot on sight. A possible example of a related large massacre against Germans is the Chenogne massacre. At the Saar river the 90th Infantry troops murdered Waffen-SS prisoners in such a systematic manner that HQ had to issue express orders to take Waffen-SS men alive so as to be able to obtain information from them.
On December 21 1944, the men of SS-Kampfgruppe Peiper captured an American officer around La Gleize near Stavelot, Major Harold D. McCown (119th Infantry Regiment). Having heard about the Malmedy massacre, McCown personally asked Jochen Peiper about his fate and that of his men. McCown later testified that Peiper told him neither he nor his men were at any risk and that he (Peiper) was not accustomed to killing his prisoners. McCown noted that neither he nor his men were threatened in any manner. This strike could not advance any further. They were cut off from the rest of the German army and encircled. Without supplies and with no contact with other German units, SS-Obersturmbannführer Peiper decided on December 24 1944 to abandon his vehicles and march through the woods to escape capture. He left with the remaining 800 men and 36 hours later he reached the German lines with 770 men, having covered the woods by foot in freezing temperatures. Image: Courtesy of Family HZ (Private collection).