​​Kampfgruppe Peiper, German 1st SS ‘Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler’ Panzer Division​



​​Kampfgruppe Peiper was one of the three armoured groups of the German 1st SS ‘Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler’ Panzer Division.​

​​During the Ardennes offensive in the winter of 1944 to 45, the German forces made a last attempt to turn the war in their favour. The 1st SS ‘Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler’ Panzer Division was tasked with crossing the River Meuse in Belgium and capturing the city of Antwerp. For this to happen, the speed of the advance was key.

The Division numbered around 20,000 men and had around 100 tanks. The tanks ranged from Mk V Panthers, Mk VI Tigers, to the largest Mk VII King Tigers.

Within this Division was Kampfgruppe Peiper armoured group. They numbered 4,800 men and 800 vehicles, many of which were tanks. On 16 December 1944, at around 05:30, they left their positions in Germany and soon encountered several problems.

Along their route was a bridge that had been destroyed by German troops, following their withdrawal to the Siegfried Line months earlier. This bridge had not been replaced and they had to make an immediate diversion.

Passing through Lanzerath, Belgium, and following hours of delays, they slowly made their way forward, but were continually hampered by American defensive actions.

They battled against the American forces for roughly ten days, ultimately failing in their planned objectives. They left a wake of destruction in their path.

At several locations, they had to cross rivers, and on many occasions were forced to divert. Finally, at La Gleize, Belgium, those that remained of the Kampfgruppe were forced to abandon all vehicles and equipment and withdraw on foot searching for German lines.

They committed several war crimes and atrocities in the local villages and towns that they passed through. This included the murder of soldiers, such as the Wereth Eleven and the Malmedy Massacre, but was not limited to military personnel. They also murdered civilians, in villages such as Honsfeld and Stavelot.

After the war, Jochiem Peiper, leader of Kampfgruppe Peiper, and many of his men, were found guilty of war crimes during the Nuremberg trials.