SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Peiper - Naive, Desperate or Suffering from Battle Fatigue ?

Discussion in 'Axis Units' started by Drew5233, Jun 25, 2009.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Further reading about the Ardennes Offensive revealed a story about Joachim Peiper and a certain US Army major called Hal D. McCowan.

    On December 24th Peiper made the decision to withdraw the remainder of his Kampfgruppe (around a thousand men) out of La Gleize area in an attempt to get back to the German Lines around the La Venne area.

    Prior to this he had taken a considerable number of Americans prisoner and decided to leave the American and German wounded behind. However he did decide to take the senior American officer along with him.

    Peiper drafted up an agreement on paper with the senior American prisoner that was Major McCowan. It basically stated that the American PoW's would be left at La Gleize to be released later when the German wounded soldiers had recovered in American hospitals and returned to German lines. To make the agreement 'official' Peiper got McCowan to sign the document, which he did but stated that he doubted his American superiors would honour such an agreement nor did he have the authority to sign it. McCowan also had to give his word of honour that he would not try and escape and would move with Kampfgruppe during the break out. Peiper told him that he would be exchanged when the German wounded were handed over.

    During the early hours of Christmas day during the retreat Kampfgruppe Peiper ran into an American unit and during the brief firefight McCowan seized his opportunity and escaped. When Peiper was told the Major had fled he refused to believe it.

    After the war Preiss stated that Peiper was still convinced that McCowan had either been killed or badly wounded and it wasn't until he saw an article in the Star and Stripes Magazine describing his exploits sometime later that he finally believed McCowan had broken his word.


    A little more digging revealed via Wiki that McCowan (Promoted) appeared at Peipers trial giving evidence for the defence.

    After the end of World War II, Peiper and other members of the Leibstandarte were tried for war crimes in the Malmedy massacre trial. During the course of the investigations, Peiper and his men were allegedly tortured, both physically and psychologically, claiming to have been repeatedly beaten, and threatened with having their families handed over to the Russians. Peiper volunteered to take all the blame if the court would set his men free; the court refused. Peiper, as the commanding officer, was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging, as were many of his men. He then requested that his men be executed by firing squad; this request was also denied. Favorable testimony concerning Peiper's treatment of American prisoners at La Gleize, offered by Lieutenant Colonel Hal McCowan, was unable to alter the opinion of the court. McCowan, who, along with his command, had been captured by Peiper at La Gleize, was labeled an enemy collaborator by the court for testifying that wounded American soldiers in Peiper's custody had received equal priority with German wounded in receiving medical treatment, and that at all times during his occupation of the town, Peiper had behaved in a professional and honorable manner.


    Joachim Peiper - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    Cheers
    Andy
     
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    It just shows that people aren't black & white put we're all various shades of grey.

    This comment sucks, that's a pathetic conclusion.

    McCowan, who, along with his command, had been captured by Peiper at La Gleize, was labeled an enemy collaborator by the court
     
  3. Franek

    Franek WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I heard two versions about Peiper concerning the massacre at Malmedy. One version was that it was he that gave the order for the massacre, the other claims that he was not there. If the latter is true, then where was he? Any answers?
     
  4. Ruimteaapje

    Ruimteaapje Member

    Peiper did not give the order, it was most probably Sturmbannführer Poetschke (the commander of his tank battalion) who passed the cross roads later and had the pow's executed. By the time the massacre started Peiper had already moved on in the direction of Stavelot with the "Panzerspitze" (the armoured spearhead of the Kampgruppe). Look for Jens Westemeier's book or Danny Parker's upcoming magnus opus for the full story on Peiper and the massacre.

    I would not call Peiper naive. It was most uncertain if he and his men would succesfully escape the La Gleize pocket and with Malmédy in mind Peiper could use some goodwill from McCowan and the other prisoners incase he had to surrender himself and his Kampgruppe to the Americans.
     
  5. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I think the whole Malmedy Massacre thing is another thread-ATB's Battle of the Bulge doesn't give an answer as to what happened as in their opinion no one seems to know. They put forward several plausable, credible theories as to what happened that day.

    Anyway the purpose of my post was to try figure out what Peiper was thinking by getting McCowan to make such a promise and sign the document.

    To me it seems a rather weird thing to do and that any soldier let alone a commander would surely know that it would never happen regarding his soldiers being returned. (Hence the title)

    I did wonder if he did it as a means of justifying to his subordinates and junior officers his decision regarding leaving the wounded behind. A keep the peace jesture if you will.

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  7. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Can anyone give an assessment or overview of Peiper's contribution in Normandy , did he suffer from fatigue or exhaustion when there ?

    I think he did what he could to get his people back to his own lines and I do not regard him as being without any redeeming qualities but he has become something of a cult figure for various reasons.
    He was not guilty of the killings in Belgium and revenge does seem to have been a motivating factor from the Americans point of view understandable but when you railroad the legal proceedings it does not help.
     
  8. Ruimteaapje

    Ruimteaapje Member

    If "the killings in Belgium" is Malmédy then indeed he was not guilty of that. But mind you, he had his share in killing pow's and civilians during that week in the Ardennes.
     
    James S likes this.
  9. Ruimteaapje

    Ruimteaapje Member

    Anyway the purpose of my post was to try figure out what Peiper was thinking by getting McCowan to make such a promise and sign the document.
    I would not call Peiper naive. It was most uncertain if he and his men would succesfully escape the La Gleize pocket and with Malmédy in mind Peiper could use some goodwill from McCowan and the other prisoners incase he had to surrender himself and his Kampgruppe to the Americans.
    Somehow I managed to give 13 replies in this forum and each and everyone of them has been ignored by the other members. No clue if my contrubutions are not intersting enough or something else in going on but I'm out of here :rolleyes:
     
  10. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I think it was more a question of not being able to produce proof of any involvement, by way of witness's and statements.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  11. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Somehow I managed to give 13 replies in this forum and each and everyone of them has been ignored by the other members. No clue if my contrubutions are not intersting enough or something else in going on but I'm out of here :rolleyes:

    I have read your posts and found them interesting, but by not commenting, I am not ignoring your comments, just prompted to add to the thread.

    Please do not think that you are being ignored as your replies are very rational and well constructed.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Somehow I managed to give 13 replies in this forum and each and everyone of them has been ignored by the other members. No clue if my contrubutions are not intersting enough or something else in going on but I'm out of here :rolleyes:

    Who said that :unsure:

    :lol:

    You're not being ignored as Tom said sometimes folk just don't reply to posts on here (Trust me I know about that).

    I was only interested in Peipers thought process regarding his interaction with McCowan. Whilst I understand and appreciated your theory, actually as quite a good one my book as a possible explanation I have no interest in the 'Massacre' which is what this thread appears to be more focused on.

    If you keep leaving WW2 forums you will eventually have none to join ;)

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  13. Desert storm vet

    Desert storm vet Discharged

    My belief is Peiper is a honorable man. I believe he felt McCowan was too.
     
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Honour aside he was only a Major at the time and even I know that in the big scheme of what he was asking McCowan would have very little weight in allowing the German PoW's to return to German lines when they recovered from their injuries.

    I would have thought Peiper being a Lt. Colonel would have know that himself.

    Cheers
     
  15. Ruimteaapje

    Ruimteaapje Member

    I was only interested in Peipers thought process regarding his interaction with McCowan. Whilst I understand and appreciated your theory, actually as quite a good one my book as a possible explanation I have no interest in the 'Massacre' which is what this thread appears to be more focused on.
    Yet my reply to you wasn't about the massacre. I was talking about Peiper not being naive and that the massacre was a reason for him to make that deal with McCowan. I don't believe that Peiper was actually surprised or upset about McCowan's escape. Nor did he expect anything of it from his German superiors. He was simply thinking ahead and needed something for his future judges to "proof" that he was not the kind of person who committed murders like Malmédy and Trois-Ponts. Like I said, their escape from the La Gleize pocket was far from sure so from his point of view at the time of the deal with McCowan being tried could be in the very near future. I guess that is right on-topic.
    My belief is Peiper is a honorable man. I believe he felt McCowan was too.
    Honorable in what way? He was a die-hard nazi and deeply involved in mass murder. The McCown business won't change that.

    But enough said. Over and out.
     
    James S likes this.
  16. Desert storm vet

    Desert storm vet Discharged

    Yet my reply to you wasn't about the massacre. I was talking about Peiper not being naive and that the massacre was a reason for him to make that deal with McCowan. I don't believe that Peiper was actually surprised or upset about McCowan's escape. I guess that is right on-topic.

    Honorable in what way? He was a die-hard nazi and deeply involved in mass murder. The McCown business won't change that.

    But enough said. Over and out.


    I thought the massacres have not been proven?
     
  17. Ruimteaapje

    Ruimteaapje Member

    I thought the massacres have not been proven?
    The massacres DID take place and it was very clear to the Americans who did it: Kampfgruppe Peiper. Trapped in La Gleize and far from sure that his escape from the pocket through the American lines would be succesful Peiper could use a "defense paper" to show his possibly soon-to-be American captors that he was not the kind of man who kills pow's. He was not looking forward to a quick trial and execution by enraged Americans who held him responsible for Malmédy.
     
  18. Korps Steiner

    Korps Steiner Senior Member

    Peiper did not give the order, it was most probably Sturmbannführer Poetschke (the commander of his tank battalion) who passed the cross roads later and had the pow's executed.


    I would not call Peiper naive. It was most uncertain if he and his men would succesfully escape the La Gleize pocket and with Malmédy in mind Peiper could use some goodwill from McCowan and the other prisoners incase he had to surrender himself and his Kampgruppe to the Americans.

    Again what do you base this on ?? Have new facts come to light ?

    Very interesting new information on what evidence do you base your comments that Poetschke gave the order ???
     
  19. Ruimteaapje

    Ruimteaapje Member

    I gave my sources. I even gave them in the same post as the one you just quoted from.
     
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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