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Peiper's War (Hardback)

The Wartime Years of SS Leader Jochen Peiper, 1941–44

WWII Frontline Books Hitler & the Third Reich Frontline: WWII

By Danny S Parker
Frontline Books
Pages: 632
Illustrations: 32 b/w
ISBN: 9781526743428
Published: 30th March 2020

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‘A bad reputation has its commitments.’ So wrote home Jochen Peiper from the fighting front in the East in 1943, characterizing his battle-hardened command during the Second World War. Peiper’s War is a new serious work of military history by the renowned author Danny S. Parker which presents a unique view of the Second World War as seen from a prominent participant on the dark side of history.

The story follows the wartime career of Waffen SS Colonel Jochen Peiper, a handsome Aryan prodigy who was considered a hero in the Third Reich. Peiper had been Heinrich Himmler’s personal adjutant in the early years of the war, and, having procured a field command in Hitler’s namesake fighting force, the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, he become famous for a flamboyant and brutal style of warfare on the Eastern Front. There, in his sphere, few prisoners were taken, and motives of racial genocide were never far from unspoken orders.

Transferred to the west, Peiper’s battlegroup incinerated a tiny town in Northern Italy and killed the village mayor and priest. Being well-connected to Himmler and other generals of the period, Peiper finds a place in the narrative as a storied witness to the inner workings of the Nazi elite along with other prominent SS officers such as Kurt Meyer.

In this meticulously researched work, we witness the apex and then death spiral of Nazi military intentions as Peiper fights for Germany across every front in the conflict. Peiper’s War provides a telling inside look at Hitler’s war and then how the dark secrets of his security-minded command were improbably unearthed at the end of the conflict by an obscure top-secret surveillance facility in the United States.

Peiper’s War is about Jochen Peiper who served in the elite 1st SS Panzer Division, seen as Hitler’s best of the best. This book also reveals how Piper worked closely with Heinrich Himmler and maybe this is where he learnt some of harshness and callousness as he was feared in his field. Peiper ended up fighting in the East and the West and this is where he is more well-known as he played a large part in the Battle of the Bulge. Whilst fighting in the West, Peiper and some of his men executed some American POW’s for which he was prosecuted and sentenced to death, which was never carried out.

This book portrays Peiper, you could say as a decent man who did actually have the trust and respect of his fellow soldiers, I would say that the harshness of war especially serving on the Eastern Front, he probably would have been a very decent man in all aspects. This is a lovely and well written book, very well researched and clearly written, in fact I thoroughly enjoy reading it. Although it isn’t your best ‘read in bed’ book, as this is a pretty weighty tome and comes in at about 590 pages. There are a good number of maps throughout the book that are very easy and clear to read. In conclusion, I will say that this is a fascinating book and it’s in danger of being in my Top 10 books of the year.

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UK Historian

This book has provided me with a new insight of the man who was Joachim Peiper, both from his actions and how he was considered by those around him. Jochen as he preferred to be called was an interesting character who does in my opinion seem to be a dedicated National Socialist in mindset. I do find myself wondering what the man was like after his release and move to France where he was murdered in the 1970's. I wonder what sort of man he would have been if he had not fought on the Eastern Front and what this would have had on how history remembers him.

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Armorama

Excellently annotated maps and numerous photos, quite a few of which were new to me, add to the quality of Parker’s work and the 150 pages of notes give an indication of the level of research. His next book is on Peiper in the Ardennes. I’m already looking forward to it. I'd doubt those with a predilection for dressing up in black are though.

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WW2 Talk

Rather like waiting for a bus, along come three books to the review desk that focus on the SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler (LAH).

The three are ‘Peiper’s War’ which details the wartime actions of Jochen Peiper the renowned leader, and the other two are personal memoirs by Werner Kindler (Obedient unto Death) and Herbert Maeger (Lost Honour, Betrayed Loyalty). I read all three concurrently with the intention of checking accounts and hopefully gaining an insight into those events from different perspectives. I therefore, with apologies to each author and the publishers, have combined the reviews as each book is mutually supporting and the added value of all three books is certainly greater than the sum of the parts. I would suggest that anybody seriously interested in knowing more about the LAH should buy all three books.

The biography of Peiper between 1941-44 concentrates on the Eastern Front and the incredible performance of the LAH on the battlefield against overwhelming odds. Their superior training, tactics, equipment and morale consistently outperformed the Soviet Army, which by and large was a poorly trained militia. Casualty reports underline the toe to toe superiority of the LAH and the development of the Panzer Grenadier tactics. Intrinsic to the success of the LAH was its leadership and Peiper emerges as a soldier’s soldier; a man who led by example, who quickly grasped changing situations and formed them to his advantage, who protected his soldiers through his efficient use of them and who in return enjoyed their total loyalty. This was particularly evident in the actions around Kharkov and Kursk in 1943.

Obedient unto Death and Lost Honour, Betrayed Loyalty give the soldiers view and really add value to the Peiper biography. Both of the authors portray the gritty reality of fighting on the Eastern Front and place the war as a matter of the survival of Germany rather than the pursuit of the political objectives of its national Socialist leadership. Sustained by the purported war aims of the Allies and the evidence of Soviet atrocities (which of course were matched by some German elements) the German soldier expected to have to fight to the death as surrender was very unattractive. Both authors deliver a clear narrative of their and the LAH’s exploits and whilst at times (particularly with Kindler) it seems a daily list of battlefield actions and close order fighting, it must be so as that was the intensity of their experience.

All three books are recommended. Read separately they stand as excellent accounts, and read together they are even better.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Danny S Parker

DANNY S. PARKER developed a keen interest in the history of the Second World War at an early age. For twenty years, he has researched an in-depth biography of Jochen Peiper - an effort which spans over 200 interviews in the US and Europe. Unique information developed on the Malmedy massacre saw the publication of Fatal Crossroads in 2011. His general biography of Peiper, Hitler's Warrior, was released in December 2014 and this latest book chronicles the war years of that iconic personality. The author is particularly interested in preserving the rich history of the Second World War and through it conveying insight into the human condition. His other interests span the gamut: low energy home design, invention and machines, Zen practice and good coffee. On Twitter: @DannySParker

Perfect Partner

The Battle of the Bulge: The German View Perspectives from Hitler’s High Command (Paperback)

As Allied armies swept towards the Reich in late 1944, the German high command embarked on an ambitious plan to wrest the initiative on the Western Front and deal a crippling blow to the Allied war effort. This superb book brings together a wealth of primary source material - including German documentation and debriefs of German generals - to tell the story of this famous campaign from the German point of view. It examines preparations for the offensive, the progress of the operation and assessments of the Wehrmacht's performance from leading figures in German high command. It also includes a…

By Danny S Parker

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