After the end of the war Peiper and other members of the Waffen-SS were tried for war crimes in the Malmedy Massacre Trial .  Peiper volunteered to take all the blame as CO if the court would set his men free; they refused.

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The Malmedy Massacre trial was a vicious farce, a “scapegoat” trial. The “Malmedy Massacre” a wartime propaganda hoax to denigrate the German nation further! The accusations were that a group of German SS men had deliberately massacred captured American soldiers. Several years later, American authorities admitted the claims were false.

 The Myth:

The 1st Panzer Division led by Jochen Peiper, was driving south of the Belgian town of Malmedy. Here they encountered a group of the American soldiers who they took by surprise, a fire-fight ensued. The 113 American prisoners-of-war who had survived the attack were then assembled in a nearby field . Peiper gave the order to shoot and at about 1415hrs soldiers from the 1st SS Panzer Division opened fire on the 113 men who were in the field. The firing stopped at about 1430hrs. Soldiers from Peiper’s unit then went around the field and shot at close range anyone who seemed to be alive – or clubbed them to death.

 The American media:

The American media jumped on the story, originally reporting hundreds of American deaths in the “massacre”, despite knowing nothing about it! The most sensationalist media report stated that Waffen SS soldiers had lined up the American PW’s, robbed them of any valuables they had then shot them at point-blank range!

Nothing like this happened. Some Americans {involved} later confirmed this did NOT happen. There was panic among the PW’s and one of the more inexperienced of the German crew fired . What happened thereafter can be read in Danny Parker’s Fatal Crossroads; the only book about this event that has some truth and accuracy to it.  Parker is an American, and as such he naturally feels more sympathetic towards his fellow countrymen than the Germans but, at least this book finally sets the record much straighter! 


After the war the Americans began a series of “political” prosecutions of members of the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS. The purpose of the SS trials was to portray the Waffen-SS as a group of thugs and evil war criminals.

One of the prime targets were the soldiers of the “SS-Panzer-Division Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler” for their “atrocity” at Malmedy, and their prize was none other than Jochen Peiper {Himmler’s adjutant}. They were interned and assembled at Schwabisch Hall. Like Nuremberg and other war-crime trials, many of the interrogators and prosecutors involved in the process were Jews (and Polish Jews). 

At the interrogations torture was used and some soldiers committed suicide. The interrogators fabricated confessions and through torture got several Germans to sign fake confessions.


Peiper-malmedy mugshot-landsberg (6)

Malmedy opinions :

US General Curtis LeMay, Head of the US Strategic Air Command said:

“the only reason we were not judged as war criminals is because we won the war. Ken Burns PBS WWII showed how during the Battle of the Bulge US officers ordered their troops many times to kill German prisoners of war. The WWII Allies air war caused the death of 1.5 million German and Japanese civilians that is to me a war crime.”

Major General Robert W. Grow
Commander of the U.S 6th Armored Division

“My service during World War II  was in command of an armored division throughout the European campaign, from Normandy to Saxony.

My division lost quite a number of officers and men captured between July 1944 and April 1945. In no instance did I hear of personnel from our division receiving treatment other than proper under the ‘Rules of Land Warfare’. As far as the 6th Armored Division was concerned in its 280 days of front line contact, there was no ‘atrocity problem’….

Frankly, I was aghast, as were many of my contemporaries, when we learned of the proposed ‘war crimes’ trials and the fact that military commanders were among the accused…. I know of no general officer who approved of them.” 

{Readers might want to find “Witness to History” a compilation of views, opinions and first hand accounts compiled by Michael Walsh, there is much to find there in Chapter 26 regarding post-war trials}

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