The road on the other side of the bridge takes a very sharp curve at a small bunker (still there today) then goes up to Cheneux. The tank spearheading the column was blown to pieces by a direct hit from a bomb right there. It was therefore not possible to pass by the wreck for a while. We made desperate attempts to pull back towards the road but nevertheless lost at least two and a half hours. I then ordered Diefenthal to proceed at once in the same direction at a great speed to reach the main road and to prevent by all means the blowing of the next bridge which was near Neucy. We proceeded then to Cheneux about 1600, Dec 18.

The Kampfgruppe went to Cheneux. No American forces there. At the bridge near Cheneux, I was reached for the first time by my Command Group and I mounted a radio vehicle of this group. I received a report of all radio messages that have come in from my communications officer which, of course, had not reached me before then. Responding to other witnesses’ testimony that Americans had been killed in La Gleize and just before Cheneux was entered, Peiper said that was impossible because there were no American soldiers at all at that time in those villages. Peiper passed through Cheneux. After darkness fell we again reached the main road which we had planned to continue on from Trois-Ponts and just outside Neucy another bridge was blown in the front of our noses. I then ordered Diefenthal to start two combat bridge reconnaissance patrols, namely, on the north of the main road, the other south. The patrol south of the road found only one small bridge and got into Werbomont.

The recon patrol on the north side of the road (Group Preuss) was trapped into an ambush by American troops on the other side of the river and the leader of this patrol was the only one to come back. The capacity of the bridge which he had used was not high enough for our heavy vehicles. I, therefore, had to decide to turn the whole column around in order to proceed west on the road located further north near La Gleize and Stoumont, my plans being to re-cross the Amblève bridge west of Stoumont and thus finally being able to reach the main road again. I arrived in La Gleize for the second time about midnight, Dec 18.

(December 19) Peiper proceeded immediately to recon Stoumont. The results of the recon were that heavy enemy concentrations were in Stoumont. Upon that, Peiper planned and prepared an attack in the early morning hours. Contrary to my first plan I was not able to attack Stoumont at dawn because there was a heavy fog. The attack began at 0900. The terrain was very unfavorable. I was hardly able to make use of my tanks. The enemy had dominating positions. The attack itself was studded with severe crises and in one of these crises, the tanks of the Battalion Poetschke attacking on the right flank proceeded to my rear so I gave Poetschke the order to take a hand in there at once.

Poetschke himself left his tank grabbed a Panzerfaust, went over to every tank, and threatened every commander to shoot him down at once if he would go back one more meter. In that matter, the backward movement of this flank was stopped while at the same time I organized everything that was laying in the ditch, including Company Rumpf, from an attack on the town which made the decision. About 30 PWs were brought back from the main enemy line of defense which continued around the edge of the town. Upon I gave the order to herd them on to La Gleize at once.

During an exchange of questions and answers concerning the PWs aspect, Peiper said he was in La Gleize at about 1230 with Poetschke and Knittel since at the time mentioned (1000-1100) he was definitely still occupied with the attack at Stoumont and not in La Gleize. (Conference): Knittel said that at this time, only about two-thirds of the battalion had arrived in La Gleize and that the rest of it was lost somewhere towards the rear because the enemy had completely taken Stavelot again and that his vehicle situation would not continue into a westerly direction. Peiper then ordered him to turn around at once to clean up Stavelot and to ascertain whether our main route of supply which went through Stavelot would be secure. Knittle asked for some tanks to accomplish this mission but I could not do that. I had to send him away.

I knew that this mission wasn’t a nice one for him. At that time, the Commander of the 2.Battalion of the Panzer Grenadier Regiment (apparently this new force was from the 2.Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment, whose 3.Panzer-Grenadier-Battalion, under Diefenthal, had been a part of Kampfgruppe Peiper) reported to me. SS-Sturmbannführer Herbert Schnelle, who had just passed Stavelot made reports about the situation there and put his battalion under me. Peiper said that Stoumont was taken on Dec 19 at 1100.

The prosecution read the testimony of four witnesses who said PW’s were shot in Stoumont about 0700 to 0800 on Dec 19, but Peiper emphasized: at this time it was barely dawn at seven o’clock. I already described that after dawn a heavy fog prevented me from attacking and that I did not start to jump off on the attack before nine o’clock.

The engagement in Stoumont Continued. After the first prisoners were brought back from the enemy line of resistances, and my attacking infantry had disappeared in the town, I drove promptly into the town with a jeep. Since violent firing was still going on there I stopped at the first house on the left side of the road. An American AT gun was standing next to that house, as was a knocked out and burning Panther, so I assumed that the clearing of the town would take a while yet. I planned to establish a message center in this house at first. Some of the officers of my staff as well as Poetschke, Westerhagen and Neuske arrived at my place, as did my communications officer. I had a conversation with an American Medic at the same time and I ordered that the Medic would be taken to the Aid Station since we could use him, and then I went to an American AAA position which was also located near the house in order to determine whether these weapons were still of use. When I returned, a severe artillery barrage started, which forced me to take cover.

I ordered the adjutant to establish the CP at a distance because the artillery was zeroed in too well at that point. With and in Poetschke’s jeep, we drove to Stoumont, met Sturmbannführer Diefenthal in the town western edge, and I ordered him to follow the escaping enemy at once and to see if all vehicles would not stop under any condition but rather increase their speed. We then followed the attacking spearhead and met it again at the railroad station, which was several kilometers west of the town proper. I walked to the first tank which was behind a sharp right-hand turn under severe American AT fire. On the right, that is, on the north end of the woods, more enemy infantry was located and a lot of firing was done. I met Diefenthal and 1/Lt Christ (CO 2.SS-Panzer-Company) in the ditch, had a short conference with a map. By that time it had become quite definite that due to our fuel situation we would no longer be able to attack further. I, therefore, had to abandon my intention to capture the next bridge and therefore ordered to hold the position which we had achieved until further notices.

At about 1200, with Poetschke, I returned to the CP in Stoumont, which in the meantime had been set up by the adjutant in the large castle located between Stoumont and La Gleize (Chateau de Froidcour). I ordered the CP to be taken out of the castle and be established into a small house located directly on the road Stoumont La Gleize.

I did this because wounded soldiers were already laying almost everywhere in the castle and I didn’t want to establish a combat CP under the flag of the Red Cross. Then I continued to drive on to La Gleize with Poetschke, after ascertaining whether any radio messages had come in. Met Sturmbannführer Schnelle, CO of the 2.Battalion of the 2.SS-Panzer-Regiment. I then returned to the CP and planned the defense. I placed Poetschke in charge of Stoumont, Westerhagen in charge of La Gleize, and temporally, Wolf of the Flak Battalion in charge of Cheneux.

(Question) What was the situation in Stavelot at this time?
(Answer) I had not received any message from Stavelot at this time but was of the opinion that troops which were following us should not have any trouble to break that resistance, particularly since a Panther of the 1.Battalion arrived in the course of the afternoon, which manned only by a driver alone because all the crew had become casualties. This man also reported about the condition in Stavelot to me. He said that he had gotten out of his Panther several times, had fought his way through with a machine pistol, but otherwise, it was still possible to get through.

(December 20)
(Question) That happened on December 20?
(Answer) On Dec 20, the conditions became much more strained. I was out of communications with the Division and the supply line had not been cleared either. Recon that were sent out in the direction of Stavelot returned without performing their task.
Furthermore, Recon patrols of mine could notice new concentrations north of La Gleize. In the afternoon, heavy attacks from the east were made in Stoumont, Cheneux was attacked from the southwest, and about 45 enemy tanks passed by us going east towards Stavelot. Through Intelligence and PWs interrogation, Peiper ascertained that he was surrounded by the US 36th Infantry Division, the US 3rd Armored Division, and the US 82nd Airborne Division. The conditions in Stoumont were particularly difficult because it was no longer possible to fight back the enemy which had broken through, and the enemy was in control of the western part of the town from then on. Peiper was in the CP of SS-Obersturmführer Franz Sievers the CO of the 3.Panzer-Pioneer-Company, in Stoumont on the afternoon of December 20.

(Question) Did you give up Stoumont?
(Answer)During the night of Dec 20/21, I ordered a counter-attack in Stoumont when we had regained the positions we had lost earlier. In the course of this, two officers as well as I do, believe that about 35 men were captured in the castle-like building in the western part of Stoumont. The combat in this building was particularly severe. Fights took place for every individual room which was pointed out to them by the infantry inside. Our positions in Stoumont became much more serious on Dec 21, and I had to consider giving up. In the early afternoon, the road at about 100 meters of the CP, about halfway between Stoumont and La Gleize, was cut by American troops. Threes had been demolished there and there were mines hidden in between the trees. The danger of Stoumont being cut off became obvious.I saw clearly that the enemy had now perceived my undefended northern flank, which had been represented by the large forest between the two towns, and I had to expect that stronger American forces would follow through these troops which had cut the road.

This place, where the place was cut, was eliminated again with all available messengers, liaison officers, and later part of the Preuss Company. We planned the evacuation of the main aid station inside the Chateau de Froidcour. All slightly wounded were taken to La Gleize, about 50 more severely wounded and unable to be transported were left behind with 15 American Medics. Since I faced the possibility of being surrounded simultaneously in Stoumont, in La Gleize, and in Cheneux, I decided to withdraw to La Gleize with all my forces, while however, still attempting to keep control of the bridge southwest of La Gleize, since I had not yet given up hopes of troops following us from behind. At dusk of Dec 21, the units withdrew from Stoumont to La Gleize.

Interrogation concerned a Maj Harold D. McCown, captured by Diefenthal’s 3.Panzer-Grenadier-Battalion. Discussed exchange of PWs and wounded with McGown. (Maj Harold D. McGown was the CO, 2/119th Infantry Division, 30th Infantry Division).

Asked about the exchange arrangement, Peiper replied: I might perhaps be permitted to say something which belongs here. Our positions in La Gleize had become very difficult. The town itself consists of a few houses only. It is surrounded by hills and offers very excellent artillery observation points to the enemy. Furthermore, to the north and west, the forest is very close to the town and therefore offers very good lines of approach to infantry. In view of the great enemy superiority, it was only a matter of days that the whole town would be shot to rubble. It was hardly possible to move in the streets.

All squares of the streets of the town were under direct machine gun and tank destroyer fire. Connected with that was a very great increase in our casualty rate. The town hardly had any cellars. The few cellars which were available were used for the prisoners and wounded exclusively, and the prisoners represented a terrific burden to me at that time, but it happened constantly that the guards who were standing outside the cellars in which the prisoners were kept, ran away during the artillery fire.

(December 21) In the evening of Dec 21, while inspecting the lines of combat I saw a number of Americans, I think there about eight, lying dead on the edge of the town. I wasn’t able to make any investigation because the firing was going on very lively. I continued on my way to Poetschke’s CP and asked him whether he knew anything about those American soldiers I hadseen out there. And he said, Yes, they had been shot in course of an attempt to escape during the afternoon.

(December 22) On Dec 22 at noon, the enemy attacked with very strong infantry and very strong tanks concentrations. They had penetrated the outermost houses. The whole town was filled with fog and the impression one had was that the infantrymen were in front of our doors. I Jumped out of my cellar with a machine pistol while my adjutant began burning the secret matter documents. On that occasion, I saw the whole town full of brown figures but could not decide where these were, the attackers or the escaping prisoners. In connection with this attack, Poetschke related to the incident mentioned above. Until that time I had the intention of defending the town until the last man, even if no aid would come.

(December 23) About noon on Dec 23, I received a mangled radio message from the Division from which I gathered that the Kampfgruppe which had been sent to my relief was not moving forward anymore and that, furthermore, higher headquarters had the wish that I return. I thereupon made the preparations for a break. I called Maj McGown in order to talk over the matter of the prisoners and casualties. I made a written agreement with him on these subjects. All the PWs were to be left under an anti-tank unit captain who had to give this agreement to the Americans reaching the town. A German doctor was also to be left, a 2/Lt Dr. Dittmann. Maj McGown accepted and was to accompany me. In later days I would exchange McGown for the left-behind German wounded.

(December 24-25-26) Wounded and Prisoners of War were left, when we broke out of La Gleize at about 0100, Dec 24. Peiper personally got to Wanne at about 0300 in the morning of Dec 25, slightly wounded. He had a violent heart attack and was taken down there unconscious. Wounded while breaking through the American main line of resistance which was precisely west of the Salm River. Asked about sleep he said: I did not sleep for nine days during the offensive. He then was bandaged and slept at the Regimental Aid Station (Dr. Sickel). In the morning of Dec 26, I was ordered to my Division CP. I had to report about what happened in the operation which had been concluded to my division commander in presence of the commanding general, Gruppenführer Hermann Preiss.
The Division CP was located in a little castle about ten kilometers west of Wanne (on the eastern outskirts) we stayed there until noon, then we drove to Blanche Fontaine, and set up a CP in the Chateau in Petit-Thier on Dec 26.

Direct testimony concluded with a discussion on availability to the Prosecution the next day of the notes Peiper used in testimony.

Cross-examination by Prosecutor Lt Col Burton F. Ellis Although Peiper’s Direct testimony to defense counsel needed some evaluation, that dealing with tactical matters generally reliable, surely. An exception, however, has been hours of attack whose connection with atrocity times was obvious, e.g., Stoumont. Cross-examination sought or did bring out discrepancies, some with tactical implications. These will be extracted with references provided to the direct extract pages, e.g. (#2.P) Recross-Examination.

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