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Mugshot of Colonel Joachim Peiper, a defendant in the Malmedy Atrocity trial.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 66322

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    Mugshot of Colonel Joachim Peiper, a defendant in the Malmedy Atrocity trial.
    Mugshot of Colonel Joachim Peiper, a defendant in the Malmedy  Atrocity trial.


    Mugshot of Colonel Joachim Peiper, a defendant in the Malmedy Atrocity trial.
    Circa 1946
    Landsberg, [Bavaria] Germany
    Variant Locale
    Landsberg Am Lech
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Joseph H. Williams
    Event History
    On May 16, 1946 in Dachau, Germany, the trial of 74 SS members who had taken part in the Malmedy massacre began. All of the defendants were charged with violation of the laws and usages of war and with deliberately participating in the killing, shooting, and torturing of U.S. soldiers and unarmed civilians. The prosecution's case was made up mainly of sworn statements from eyewitnesses, which the defense later claimed were forced to testify under duress. The defense's case rested on testimony from a few witnesses, mostly ex-SS men, including Colonel Joachim Peiper who had headed the division charged with the massacre. The most stunning defense witness was the American soldier Hal McCown, who testified that, as a prisoner of Peiper, he received fair treatment, as did the other American POWs, and that he never saw murdered Americans. Neither Peiper's nor McCown's testimony helped, however, as the seventy-three defendants (one had been released to French custody during the trial) were all found guilty on July 11. On July 16, 1943, forty-three were sentenced to death by hanging (including Peiper) and twenty-two were sentenced to life in prison, with the rest receiving either ten, fifteen, or twenty year prison terms. Those associated with the case soon began to have their doubts about how the case was handled, however, specifically the eyewitness statements used by the prosecution. Some also expressed concern that US soldiers had carried out similar acts without being punished. One year after the trial ended, an Army office carried out a review of the trial and made large changes in the original sentences. Although no prisoner was released, twenty-five of the forty-three death sentences were reduced to life imprisonment, seventeen defendants had their life sentences reduced and those with shorter prison terms had them made even shorter. Many of these changes were made, the reviewing body said, because of the youthfulness of the defendants at the time. The charges with these changes were also reviewed a year later by the War Crimes Review Board, which, after declaring the pre-trial investigation flawed and saying the court had favored the prosecution, recommended to a higher body a further reducing of sentences. This higher body, the Military Governor of the American Zone, took some of the Review Board's suggestions into account, and its changes led to thirteen defendants being freed, and only twelve still facing execution. Still later, the Governor reduced the number sentenced to death to 6. As the end of the Malmedy affair approached, American military authorities reduced to life imprisonment the death sentences for the 6 remaining defendants.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Joseph H. Williams

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Colonel Joachim Peiper (b. 1/30/15) was a senior Waffen-SS officer. He commanded several Panzer campaigns during the war. Arrested after the war, he was indicted for his role in the Malmedy massacres of American POWs and Belgium civilians during the Battle of the Bulge. Peiper was sentenced to death by hanging. However, this sentence was later commuted, and Peiper was released at the end of December 1956, having served 11 and a half years. After his release, Peiper moved to France and worked as a translator. Twenty years later, on July 14, 1976, a group of Frenchmen threw a firebomb into his house killing Peiper.
    Record last modified:
    2005-10-04 00:00:00
    This page:

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