Joachim "Jochen" Peiper (30 January 1915 - 14 July 1976) was a senior Waffen-SS officer in World War II and a convicted war criminal. By the end of his military career in 1945, Peiper was the youngest regimental colonel in the Waffen-SS, holding the rank of SS-Standartenführer. He also served as personal adjutant to Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, in the period April 1938 to August 1941. He fought on both the Eastern and Western Fronts. During the Battle of the Bulge in December, 1944, men under Peiper's command massacred 84 American POWs near Malmedy, Belgium. Peiper and several others were tried and convicted in 1946 for the Malmedy massacre. He was initially sentenced to death, but that was commuted to life in prison after a number of appeals and independent investigations, including one by the U.S. Senate, concluded that there were errors in the pre-trial process.
Peiper was released in 1956. He worked in the German auto industry throughout the remainder of the 1950s and 1960s. He retired to France in 1972, and began a career translating English books into German. He was discovered in 1974 and identified by a former member of the French resistance, and was subject to death threats over the next two years. Peiper was murdered in July 1976, when he was shot by unknown assailants who then burned his house to the ground using Molotov cocktails. The assailants were never identified.
Joachim Peiper in The Man With the Iron Heart
Joachim Peiper was the second-in-command of the German Freedom Front as Germany was occupied by Allied and Soviet forces in the spring of 1945. When Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich was killed attempting to escape his bunker in the Alpine Redoubt in 1947, Peiper became the commander of the GFF (assuming the title of Reichsprotektor himself), witnessing the evacuation of the final American forces from western Germany later that year. His attempt to force the other Allies' hands using aircraft hijackings had mixed results; the Western Europeans scrambled to make changes to their security procedures and thus were forced to dance to the GFF's tune, while the Soviets simply stormed the parked aircraft at whatever cost to the hostages and their own soldiers.
- The Man With the Iron Heart, pg. 179.
- Ibid., pg. 493-495
- Ibid., pgs. 528-529.
- Ibid., pgs. 518-520.
|Reichsprotektor (Leader) of the German Freedom Front
(The Man With the Iron Heart)
From November, 1947
Incumbent at novel's end, 1948