|Knight's Cross holder Joachim Peiper|
|Recipient of the Oak Leaves|
Peiper commanded his Panzers with great skill and daring. He also provided an example of personal daring which goes far to explain his success as a combat leader: he expected much of his men but demanded more of himself. One of many anecdotes that has survived describes Peiper´s destruction of an onruching Soviet T-34 tank with a rifle grenade at a few meters range. Peiper grinned, observing, that should suffice for the close-combat badge, boys. On November 20 1943, SS-Obersturmbannführer Georg Schönberger was killed in action, and Peiper took his place as commander of the SS-Panzer-Regiment 1 (Leibstandarte SS); a position he held until the end of the war. He was 28 years old. Peiper personally led the regiment through the winter and was engaged in numerous night assaults against the Red Army. His panzer unit played an essential role in stalling the Soviet offensive in the area of Zhytomyr. In the following days, Peiper´s panzers penetrated thirty kilometers into the Soviet rear, put to flight the field headquarters of four Soviet divisions, and claimed 2,280 Soviet troops killed, a figure that might be contrasted with a total of three prisoners taken during the same period. SS-Obersturmbannführer Joachim Peiper was to receive the Oakleaves of the Knight's Cross for these exploits. Images: Jochen Peiper receiving the Oak Leaves of the Knight's Cross in January 1944. Commons: Bundesarchiv.