|SS-Obersturmbannführer Joachim Peiper|
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: A formal studio portrait, probably made in connection with the award of the Swords to his Knight's Cross with Oakleaves, on January 11 1945. Other awards and decorations shown in the photo are the German Cross in Gold, Close Combat Clasp in Silver, Panzer Assault Badge and Iron Cross First Class. Just visible on the right sleeve is the Tank Destruction Badge. Public domain.