- Second World War (1939-1945)
- SS-Sturmbannführer (Major)
- Kommandeur III.(gepanzerte) / SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 2 “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler” / Heeresgruppe Süd
- Awarded on:
- March 9th, 1943
Peiper’s Knight’s Cross recommendation reads as follows…
“On the 06.03.1943 SS-Sturmbannführer Peiper, commander of the III.(gep)/Pz.Gren.Rgt. 2 ‘LSSAH’, received the mission of breaking through the enemy line south edge of Porssjandje-Ljaschowa farm-Gawrilowka and thereafter thrust to the Peressel farm (the day’s objective).
Starting at 11:45, he reached the southern edge of Peressel at 13:45. By 14:00 he had broken through the nascent enemy blocking position, and thrust past this day’s objective on his own initiative. Driving through enemy columns, at 15:30 he ejected strong enemy units from preprepared field positions near Fedorowka-Bridok farm and created a bridgehead. He then held this bridgehead even though he had been cut off from his rearward connections and was being attacked by strong enemy forces on all sides. 3 T-34s were destroyed in the process.
Through his actions here SS-Sturmbannführer Peiper laid the groundwork for the successful attack against Walki on the 07.03.1943.”
"Peiper was ordered to take Zmiev and make contact with the 320. Infanterie (sic) Division. Peiper carried out this mission and brought back 750 wounded from the
320. Infanterie (sic) Division. While doing so he completely destroyed an enemy snowshoe battalion, which blocked his way back."
Peiper’s Oakleaves recommendation reads as follows…
“On the 04.12.1943 the Division received the mission of thrusting across the line Mokrentschina-Pekartschina into the flank of enemy forces in front of the XIII. Armee-Korps from the area northwest of Tschernjachoff. It was to destroy them with an energetically conducted strike, and then together with the other divisions of the XXXXVIII. Panzer-Korps enable the XIII. Armee-Korps to advance against the Teterew river. The plan was for this Korps to link up with the advance of the LIX. Armee-Korps.
Kampfgruppe Peiper (SS-Pz.Rgt. 1, reinforced SS-Pz.Aufl.Abt. 1, III.(gep)/SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 2, 2./SS-Pz.Pi.Btl. 1, 5./SS-Flak-Abt. 1) received orders to move out at 15:00 on the 05.12.1943. It was to bypass the enemy occupied Tschernjachoff to the west under cover of night, and thereafter advance along a broad front via Andrew, the high ground on both sides of Styrty. Later, without regarding any possible flank threats, it was to continue to win ground in the direction of Radomyschl.
The Kampfgruppe took Sseljantschina with its foremost elements in the opening stages of the attack on the 05.12.1943. Then, at 20:00, the reconnaissance of the III.(gep)/SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 2 reported that the enemy west of Pekartschina were firmly entrenched in built-up field positions and that the village itself was set-up for all-round defense. As the village could not be bypassed due to the unsuitable terrain conditions, and the bridges in the village needed to be taken intact, SS-Sturmbannführer Peiper personally took over command of the armoured Bataillon (which he himself had commanded previously). With exceptional boldness he led a night attack against the village. The enemy, totally surprised in their positions before and within the village, were completely destroyed under the weight of the weapons and flamethrowers of the friendly SPWs.
During a subsequent reconnaissance towards Andrejew, which SS-Sturmbannführer Peiper again personally led, valuable information was obtained for the armoured group’s attack on the following day.
With the results of his nocturnal reconnaissance thrust to guide him, Peiper launched his attack at dawn the next day. After crushing a Pakfront, Andrejew itself was taken at 06:00 and the Tschernjachoff-Korosten road was blocked. East of Andrejew the Kampfgruppe overran a few batteries, and after eliminating several Pak strongpoints the high ground along both sides of Styrty was under friendly control at 10:00. With this the first day’s objective was reached.
In an impetuous forward march the Kampfgruppe now moved further eastwards, overrunning and eliminating several batteries and Pakfronts. It encountered and crushed the command posts of the 121st rifle division at Kisselowka, the 322nd rifle division at Seliyzschy, the 148th rifle division at Kamenny Bridgets and the 336th rifle division at Kaitanowka. Here a halt for resupply was necessary.
On this day the Kampfgruppe captured or destroyed:
76 Pak (7.62 cm)
38 anti-tank rifles
71 horse-drawn wagons
This thrust by the armoured group, which took place alongside extreme difficulties related to navigation and terrain, penetrated 30 km deep into the rear of the enemy and caused the entire Russian frontline along its whole length to waver. The advance of the divisions from the XIII. Armee-Korps was thereby enabled.
As the enemy had managed to temporarily interdict the supply road during the course of the 06.12.1943, the armoured group was only able to recommence its eastward advance in the afternoon of the 07.12.1943, with its first target being Tschaikowka.
The Russians had heavily fortified this village with terrain obstacles and hastily brought-up Paks. To avoid losses, SS-Sturmbannführer Peiper decided to postpone an advance until the onset of darkness. Then he would bypass Tschaikowka from the north and thrust towards the east.
By around 19:00 the armoured group had already penetrated into the rear of the enemy (having dispatched the resistance of a few Paks) and thrust eastwards to a depth of about 10 km. Then, on orders of the Division, the Kampfgruppe turned northwards. It took Chodory and fought its way further northwards, entering the strongly fortified village of Sabolot. After hard urban combat SS-Sturmbannführer Peiper and his men had the village firmly under control by around 10:00.
During this night attack Kampfgruppe Peiper destroyed or captured the following:
1 tank (T-34)
1 Pak (4.5 cm)
61 Pak (7.62 cm)
21 anti-tank rifles
With this nocturnal thrust by his armoured group, again operating deep in the rear of the enemy, SS-Sturmbannführer Peiper had succeeded in creating a breach in the deep, strongpoint-like defensive system of the enemy. In doing so he prevented the formation of an operational bridgehead over the Teterew.
SS-Sturmbannführer demonstrated great personal bravery and skillful tactical leadership of his strong forces during these days of battle. His personal boldness, battle strategies, determined conduct, as well as his lightning swift recognition and exploitation of favourable opportunities, were of great importance in ensuring this great success by both the armoured group and the Division.
Furthermore, the SS-Pz.Rgt. 1 destroyed the following in the short time period 21.11.-24.12.1943 under the command of SS-Sturmbannführer Peiper:
100 tanks (T-34)
124 Pak (7.62 cm)
24 anti-tank rifles
7 anti-aircraft guns
2 aircraft (Il-2s)
Due to his repeatedly shown personal bravery, as well as the outstanding leadership of his Regiment, I hold SS-Sturmbannführer Peiper as worthy of the Oakleaves to the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. I would like to request that SS-Sturmbannführer Peiper be decorated with this high award.”
Peiper’s Swords’ recommendation reads as follows…
“SS-Obersturmbannführer Peiper has previously distinguished himself outstandingly in the campaigns of the 1. SS-Panzer-Division ‘LSSAH’ since August 1941, and been decorated with the Oakleaves to the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. More recently, during the first days of the great offensive in the west, Peiper once again showed decisive boldness, ruthlessness and level-headed leadership in every situation as commander of the armoured group of the Division.
After overcoming substantial road/terrain difficulties, and making contact with the 3. Fallschirm-Jäger-Division at Lanzerath, the armoured group launched a surprise attack against the heavily secured village of Honsfeld. It captured the village as well as the bulk of an American reconnaissance battalion. Quick to exploit this success, he immediately resumed advancing towards Büllingen. Despite strong resistance the thoroughly conducted attack succeeded, and in the process 12 enemy aircraft and abundant war materiel fell into the hands of the Kampfgruppe. Disregarding possible flank threats, with only the aim of a deep thrust in mind, the armoured group continued advancing through Möderscheid-Schoppen-Faymonville-Ligneuville. Near Baugnez an enemy supply column was annihilated, and after eliminating the blocking formations placed in front of it the Kampfgruppe forced the staff of the 49th Anti-Aircraft artillery brigade into flight.
Without regard for security or stopping the group carried on with its commander at the spearhead, pursuing the fleeing enemy and already reaching Stavelot by the evening. After reassembling the group attacked on the morning of the 18.12.1944 against tough enemy resistance made even stronger by the terrain, which heavily favoured the defense. The bridge here was captured, and the group immediately continued advancing further via Trois-Ponts towards La Gleize.
Already at 14:30 the village was captured, after breaking the very hard resistance. Chenneux and Stoumont were also captured despite the unexpectedly tough enemy fighting spirit.
Then fuel difficulties forced the group to halt.
Cut-off from the bulk of the Division, the armoured group held out against an enemy who was being reinforced daily, inflicting heavy losses against the foe. Starting on the 20.12.1944 the attacks of the 3rd American tank division and the 30th American infantry division, up to 14 in one day, were repulsed. On the 22.12.1944, when the elements in Stoumont and Chenneux were threatened with encirclement, SS-Obersturmbannführer Peiper decided to pull back all forces to la Gleize. Now being crushed by the materiel weight of these enemy divisions, a heroic battle commenced where every meter of ground was contested. Inspired by the unbroken will to fight of the commander, all attacks were fought off. After all Panzers were immobilized, and the last rounds had been fired, SS-Obersturmbannführer Peiper received the order to break out on the evening of the 23.12.1944.
Taking along the still usable war materiel, the 800-man strong Kampfgruppe disengaged from the enemy unnoticed at 02:00 on the 24.12.1944. Over the course of 22 hours it marched through trackless, mountainous wooded terrain in enemy territory. With great physical effort the enemy frontline at Roglin Vale was overcome. Despite all enemy units in this sector being on alert and enemy fighter-bomber/artillery-spotter aircraft being on the lookout for Kampfgruppe Peiper, the enemy resistance here was broken in a surprise thrust launched with the courage of desperation. The better part of the Kampfgruppe swam across the Salm river and reached friendly territory on the opposite bank. In the process SS-Obersturmbannführer Peiper was wounded while at the head of his Kampfgruppe.
Through this surprise thrust by the armoured group into the depths of enemy territory, conducted under the command of SS-Obersturmbannführer Peiper, several enemy divisions were forced to relocate from the Aachen-Jülich area. These were then tied down by the resistance of the armoured group in such a way that permitted friendly formations located further south to succeed in acquiring additional territory towards the west.
The following was destroyed or captured:
Armour: 21 tanks shot-up, 6 tanks destroyed in close combat.
Guns: 50 heavy anti-tank guns and 12 Pak-Flak destroyed.
Aircraft: 2 fighter-bombers shot down, 12 aircraft captured and destroyed.
In Honsfeld an encircled American reconnaissance battalion with their equipment was captured. The latter included about 15 armoured cars and 35 armoured halftracks.
Captured or destroyed wheeled vehicles: 180 vehicles of all kinds.
Enemy losses: About 300 enemy dead, 450 prisoners (including 4 staff officers).
I ask that this well-deserved and exceedingly brave SS officer be awarded the Oakleaves with Swords to the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.”