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September 11, 2010

“Peiper actually volunteered for classes in torture at Dachau”

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:18 am

The title of this post comes from a quote on a blog which you can read here.  Here is the full quote:

During his SS officer training, Peiper actually volunteered for classes in torture at Dachau inside the infamous Jewish concentration camp.

Joaquim Peiper in his SS dress uniform

Peiper was SS-Standartenführer Joachim Peiper, 1st SS Panzer Division, Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler; he was prosecuted as a war criminal in the infamous Malmédy massacre case.  A caption under a photo on the blog cited above identifies the proceedings against Peiper as “The Nuremberg Trials 1946,” but Peiper was actually prosecuted by an American Military Tribunal  held at the Dachau garrison, next door to the the former Dachau concentration camp.

Tour guides at the Dachau memorial site routinely tell visitors that  prisoners were tortured at Dachau, but neglect to mention which prisoners were tortured. In June 1945, the former Dachau concentration camp became War Crimes Enclosure No. 1 where 30,000 accused German war criminals were held while they awaited trial by the American Military Tribunal. Most of  the Germans were never put on trial, but many of them were tortured at Dachau to obtain confessions before they were prosecuted.

The tour guides also tell visitors that  Dachau had a “School of Terror” where SS men learned how to torture prisoners, but neglect to tell visitors that it was the SS men, who were accused of being war criminals, that were tortured by the American interrogators.

Kurt Framm was accused in the Malmédy Massacre case

The photograph above shows Herbert Rosenstock, an American military interpreter, seated next to 2nd Lt. Kurt Flamm, an SS man, who is answering questions put to him by the prosecutor, Lt. Col. Burton F. Ellis, who is standing. Note the marks on the face of 2nd Lt. Flamm.  It looks like he might have cut himself shaving.  Or maybe he had just come from the torture chamber where he was worked over to prepare him for his testimony.

The Malmédy Massacre, which was the name given to the shooting of 84 American soldiers who had surrendered, took place on December 17, 1944, the second day of the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, during the summer of 1945, the US occupation authorities rounded up over 1,000 former soldiers in the 1st SS Panzer Division and interrogated them. Seventy-five of them were originally charged as war criminals in the Malmédy case.

The accused in the proceedings included General Josef “Sepp” Dietrich, commander of the Sixth Panzer Army, who was a long-time personal friend of Adolf Hitler.   Peiper was the commanding officer of “Kampfgrüppe Peiper,” the armored battle group which spearheaded the German attack in Hitler’s Ardennes Offensive, better known to Americans as the Battle of the Bulge. Peiper’s rank was the equivalent of an American Lt. Col. when he was assigned on December 16, 1944 to lead the tank attack, but after the battle, he was promoted to Colonel. Peiper preferred to be called by his nickname, Jochen, rather than his real first name, Joachim.

One of those who were charged was 18-year-old Arvid Freimuth who committed suicide in his cell before the trial started. Charges were dismissed against Marcel Boltz after it was learned that he was a French citizen; France had made a law that no French citizen could be tried as a war criminal.  That left 73 men who were ultimately prosecuted by the American Military.  America had no law against prosecuting American soldiers who committed war crimes in World War II, but no American “war criminals” were ever prosecuted.

My favorite photo of Joaquim Peiper

The proceedings in the Malmédy Massacre case started on May 12, 1946 and the verdicts were read on July 16, 1946. All of the 73 men on trial were convicted and 42 were sentenced to death by hanging.

None of the convicted SS soldiers were ever executed and by 1956, all of them had been released from prison. All of the death sentences had been commuted to life in prison. As it turned out, the Malmédy Massacre proceedings at Dachau had become a controversial case which dragged on for over ten years, and had resulted in criticism of the American Occupation, the war crimes military tribunals, the Jewish prosecutors and interrogators at Dachau and the whole American system of justice.

Before the last man, who had been convicted in the Dachau proceedings, walked out of the Landsberg am Lech prison as a free man, the aftermath of the case had involved the US Supreme Court, the International Court at the Hague, the US Congress, Dr. Johann Neuhäusler, a Bishop from Munich, who was a survivor of the Dachau concentration camp, and the government of the new Federal Republic of Germany.

The accused SS men claimed that, before the court proceedings, they had already had a trial, which was conducted in a room with black curtains, lit only by two candles. The judge was an American Lt. Col. who sat at a table draped in black with a white cross on it. After these mock trials in which witnesses testified against the accused, each SS man was told that he had been sentenced to death, but nevertheless he would have to write out his confession. When all of them refused to write a confession, the prosecution dictated statements which they were forced to sign under threats of violence.

There was no question that these mock trials had actually taken place, since the prosecution admitted it during the investigation after the Dachau proceedings ended.

According to James J. Weingartner, the author of A Peculiar Crusade: Willis M. Everett and the Malmedy Massacre, Lt. Col. Peiper had presented to the American defense attorney a summary of allegations of abuse made to him by his soldiers. The SS soldiers claimed that they had been beaten by the American interrogators and that one of the original 75 accused men, 18-year-old Arvid Freimuth, had hanged himself in his cell after being repeatedly beaten.

A statement, supposedly written by Freimuth, although portions of it were not signed by him, was introduced during the proceedings as evidence against the other accused. As in the Nuremberg IMT and the other Dachau proceedings, the accused were charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes, as well as with specific incidents of murder, so Freimuth’s statement was relevant to the case, even after he was no longer among the accused himself.

An important part of the defense case was based on the fact that the accused were classified as Prisoners of War when they were forced to sign statements incriminating themselves even before they were charged with a war crime.

As POWs, they were under the protection of the Geneva Convention of 1929, which prohibited the kind of coercive treatment that the accused claimed they had been subjected to in order to force them to sign statements of guilt. Article 45 of the Geneva Convention said that Prisoners of War were “subject to the laws, regulations and orders in force in the armies of the detaining powers.” That meant that they were entitled to the same Fifth Amendment rights as American soldiers.

After being held in prison for an average of five months, the SS  men had been charged as war criminals on April 11, 1946, a little over a month before their case before the American military tribunal was set to begin. By virtue of the charge, they were automatically reduced to the status of “civilian internee” and no longer had the protection of the Geneva Convention.

Lt. Col. Rosenfeld, who was the “law member” of the proceedings against the SS men, ruled against a defense motion to drop the charges; he ruled  that the men, accused in the Malmédy case, had never been Prisoners of War because they became war criminals the moment they committed their alleged acts and were thus not entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention of 1929.

On March 10, 1945, an order signed by General Dwight D. Eisenhower had reduced the status of all German POWs to that of “disarmed enemy forces,” which meant that they were no longer protected under the rules of the Geneva Convention after the war.

Moreover, as the law member of the panel of judges, Lt. Col. Rosenfeld ruled that “to admit a confession of the accused, it need not be shown such confession was voluntarily made….” Contrary to the rules of the American justice system, the German war criminals, who were prosecuted by the American Military Tribunal, were presumed guilty and the burden of proof was on them, not on the prosecution.

The prosecution case in the Malmédy masssacre proceedings hinged on the accusation that Adolf Hitler himself had given the order that no prisoners were to be taken during the Battle of the Bulge and that General “Sepp” Dietrich had passed down this order to all the  commanding officers in his Sixth Panzer Army. This meant that, in the eyes of the Americans, there was a German conspiracy to kill American prisoners of war and thus, all of the accused were guilty because they were participants in a “common plan” to break the rules of the Geneva Convention. Yet General Dietrich’s Sixth Panzer Army had taken thousands of other prisoners who were not shot. According to US Army figures, there was a total of 23,554 Americans captured during the Battle of the Bulge.  The alleged “Hitler order” to kill all the Allied POWs was never found.

The main evidence in the prosecution case was the sworn statements signed by the accused even before they were charged with a war crime, statements which their American defense attorney claimed were obtained by means of mock trials and beatings in violation of the rules of the Geneva Convention of 1929. The war crimes with which they were charged were likewise violations of the Geneva Convention of 1929, a double standard which didn’t seem right to their defense attorney, Lt. Col. Willis M. Everett.

Another double standard that bothered Everett was that there had been many incidents in which American soldiers were not put on trial for killing German Prisoners of War, but the defense was not allowed to mention this. Any of the accused men who inadvertently said anything about American soldiers breaking the rules of the Geneva Convention were promptly silenced and these comments were stricken from the record.  The killing of SS soldiers who had surrendered when the Dachau camp was liberated was unknown at that time because the US Army had kept this a secret for more than 40 years.

Following the defeat of the German Army in World War II, the Judge Advocate Department of the Third US Army had set up a War Crimes Branch which conducted 489 court proceedings in which 1,672 German war criminals were charged. This was apart from the proceedings against the major German war criminals before an International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Most of the secondary proceedings conducted by the American occupation forces were held at Dachau, between November 15, 1945 and 1948.  No Allied soldiers were ever prosecuted for war crimes committed during World War II.

I would like to know what kind of torture methods Peiper learned at Dachau.  Water boarding maybe?  He certainly got a lesson in torture methods when he was a prisoner at Dachau before he was prosecuted by an American Military Tribunal.

The training school at Dachau was for concentration camp administrators; Peiper probably did not take any classes at Dachau, since he had nothing whatsoever to do with the concentration camps.

The photo above shows Lt. Virgil Lary in the courtroom, as he identifies  Pvt. 1st Class Georg Fleps, a Waffen-SS soldier from Rumania, who allegedly fired the first two shots with his pistol in the Malmedy Massacre.

Some versions of the story say that Fleps fired a warning shot in the air when several prisoners tried to make a run for it. Other versions say that he deliberately took aim and shot one of the Americans. Panic ensued and the SS soldiers then began firing upon the prisoners with their machine guns.

The exact number of American soldiers who surrendered to the Germans is unknown, but according to various accounts, it was somewhere between 85 and 125. After the captured Americans were herded into a field, they were allegedly shot down by Waffen-SS men from Peiper’s Battle Group in what an American TV documentary characterized as an orgy, motivated by German “joy of killing.”

Forty-three of the Americans taken prisoner that day managed to escape and lived to tell about it. One of them was Kenneth Ahrens, who was shot twice in the back. Seventeen of the survivors ran across the snow-covered field, and made their way to the village of Malmedy where they joined the 291st Engineer Battalion.

The massacre occurred at approximately 1 p.m. on December 17th and the first survivors were picked up at 2:30 p.m. on the same day by a patrol of the 291st Engineer Battalion. Their story of the unprovoked massacre was immediately sent to General Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander of the war in Europe, who made it a point to disseminate the story to the reporters covering the battle.

The Inspector General of the American First Army learned about the massacre three or four hours after the first survivors were rescued. By late afternoon that day, the news had reached the forward American divisions. In his book , entitled The Ardennes, The Battle of the Bulge, Hugh Cole wrote the following:

Thus Fragmentary Order 27 issued by Headquarters, 328th Infantry on 21 December for the attack scheduled for the following day says: “No SS troops or paratroopers will be taken prisoners but will be shot on sight.”

In his book called The Other Price of Hitler’s War: German Military & Civilian Losses Resulting from WW 2, author Martin Sorge wrote the following regarding the events that took place after the massacre:

“It was in the wake of the Malmedy incident at Chegnogne that on New Year’s Day 1945 some 60 German POWs were shot in cold blood by their American guards. The guilt went unpunished. It was felt that the basis for their action was orders that no prisoners were to be taken.”


  1. Peiper was a good solider. He stood up for his men and lead not followed as had been eluded to by others here. Unless you have been in a war and fought in a war you have no clue what it is all about. If you look at the objective that he was given killing prisoners would be the very last thing he would do as that would polarize American troops which did happen. Lt Col Peiper spent time discussing the war with an American Army Major while the assault was under way. No good officer would want to do anything to support improving the opposition moral which killing POWs would. This was not a stupid Nazi zealot but a skilled officer who was a tactician.
    One thing that seems totally wrong is that Peiper said he was a Nazi and continues to be one until his death. That is totally wrong. He was never a Nazi he was an SS officer totally different and he stead fast refused to sign up as a Nazi.
    SS were totally different than your Nazi. They were supposed to be Hitler’s body guards but grew beyond that to become the most aggressive military forces.

    This guy was all about duty, honor, country and not about what was politically correct. He took full responsibility for the actions of the forces under him. He was lucky he was not executed or still in prison for taking that responsibility and most likely would have if the American torture that took place had not been made public. Had this not happened many would have been executed and or life in a military prison.

    I am no lover of Nazi or SS but I can respect someone that was a good officer regardless of where he was situated.

    Comment by Fun2drive — November 11, 2015 @ 4:56 pm

  2. Peiper was a hero and a brave man. Period. Any of those on here that say otherwise please tell us about your harrowing feats in the face of death, those things you did to save you fellow soldiers and the code you remained faithful to knowing it would cost your life and more….if you can do that to the extent that it diminishes Peiper’s bravery and honor than please by all means do so….otherwise shut your sniveling cowardly cornhole.

    Comment by jason frisbie — September 7, 2015 @ 8:34 am

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  5. You Nazi apologists and holocaust deniers are the modern age’s s c u m o f t h e e a r t h . Too bad jolly ol’ Jochen isn’t around to pound you in the ass. Or blow your brains out.

    Comment by Carl Grossschlong — February 6, 2013 @ 5:53 am

    • Sorry, Big Dick, your comments will be moderated in the future. If you have something to say, besides insults and name calling, your comments will be allowed. Otherwise, into the trash they go.

      Comment by furtherglory — February 6, 2013 @ 6:43 am

  6. Wow…… Anyone during that period that wore an SS uniform deserved a bullet behind the ear. You cant run with the hares AND hunt with the hounds as the old saying goes.
    If you have even visited these camps, which I have, then you will have gotten a good grip on the scale of pure viscous evil the whole Nazi machine was peddling.

    So you join the SS elite, which means your buying into that machine…….. which means when the whole party ends and the games over you stand up and get counted right?

    The whole lot of them should’ve been burned at the stake, having first been forced to beg for there wretched lives to every inmate in that camp, Jewish or otherwise.

    Sorry if that upsets any Liberal types on here, but unfortunately some things go beyond a civilized conversation and a court ruling.

    If you really think Dachau was a civilized POW camp with 3 square meals a day for the inmates and nobody got shot unless they made for the fences, then frankly your completely delusional.

    That’s my 3 cents worth.

    Comment by Ghostrider — June 7, 2012 @ 6:34 pm

    • You must be new to my blog. You might enjoy this post about how an American soldier and a “Polish soldier” were torturing German SS men at Dachau before they killed them. There were no “Polish soldiers” after Poland was defeated by the Germans in only 28 days. The Polish soldiers stopped fighting on the battlefield, but continued to fight as Resistance fighters. If captured, they were taken to camps like Dachau. When Dachau was liberated, the “Polish soldiers” were released so that they could torture and kill the guards. Read about it at

      Dachau was not a POW camp. It was a concentration camp for political prisoners including Resistance fighters who were acting in violation of the Geneva Convention.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 8, 2012 @ 11:57 am

    • idiot, perhaps we should burn every American marine for the abuses they carry out eveyday

      Comment by Micky m — July 30, 2013 @ 1:49 am

  7. What a bunch of whining. Peiper was not executed.

    Far more mercy was shown to him that to the many people the SS killed.

    Delusional denial of that fact won’t change anything.

    (And how is it that Peiper got through the whole war with barely a scratch, while so many of his men were killed or badly wounded? I will tell you how, as my dad told me from his experience about officers like that…they were always urging their men on! “Go ahead men, I am right behind you! Hahahahaaaaaa!!!!


    Comment by Melissa — November 22, 2010 @ 10:20 pm

    • It was not because “mercy” was shown to Peiper that he was not executed. It was because the SS men in the Malmedy Massacre case were tortured by American Jewish interrogators and were given mock trials which the Jewish interrogators admitted to. “the people that the SS killed” were POWs that tried to escape. Some of them did manage to escape and they returned to their lines and told about the POWs that had been killed. An American officer then told his men to deliberately kill German POWs the next day. A couple of years ago, there was a big controversy when Bill O’Reilly revealed that an order was given to deliberately kill German POWs. Few people had ever heard of this. In the military tribunals conducted by the Allies after the war, one of the new rules made up by the Allies was that no similar crimes of the Allies could be mentioned.

      Comment by furtherglory — November 23, 2010 @ 5:41 am

  8. I interviewed Burton F. Ellis of Fresno in 1986. I asked him about torturing confessions out of his German prisoners at Dachau. He said, “That was investigated and found not to be true.”

    I said, “Who investigated – Americans?”

    “Yes, but why are you so interested in this?”

    I said, “Well, Mr. Ellis, World War II was the most important thing that ever happened. I think we should know what really happened. I’ve been reading that you and your investigators tortured confessions out of those men by crushing their testicles, and even had women screaming from next door, making them believe that their wives were being tortured, and that’s why you got all your confessions.”

    “No, that’s not true.”

    “But the fact is, that Peiper and his men were eventually released. That would indicate that the army knew they were not guilty.”

    “No, no – they were guilty! But,” he said, “I’ll tell you this – Joachim Peiper was a hell of an officer and there are things you have to do in war.” This from an army lawyer.

    “Did you say that at his trial?”


    Comment by JB Campbell — September 28, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

  9. So what was the result of the investigation? Were these sadists ever put on trial themselves?

    Comment by Sceptic — September 14, 2010 @ 8:17 am

    • Surely, you jest! No Americans were ever put on trial for war crimes, or any other crimes, committed during or after World War II.

      Comment by furtherglory — September 14, 2010 @ 9:01 am

      • Okay, but what did the Congressional investigation conclude? That would be interesting to know. Did they bring out the crimes and then excuse them because they were dealing with “nazis?” Or something else? Do you have that on your website?

        Comment by Skeptic — September 15, 2010 @ 2:49 pm

        • I just looked it up. From Wiki, I’ll just copy the last paragraph on the page:

          Ultimately, the commission report combined with the intensification of the Cold War, which required that the United State have the West Germans on their side, led the American army to commute the last death sentence to life imprisonment. In following years, all of the men were released, one after another, the last being Joachim Peiper.

          I’m glad they were released, but of course justice was not served since the “investigators” were not found guilty of anything.

          Comment by Skeptic — September 15, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

          • You can read all about the Congressional investigation on this page of my web site:

            This page of my web site created a lot of controversy at the time that I wrote it and I got a lot of criticism in e-mail. One cannot even hint that the interrogators were guilty of anything because the general attitude of most people is that all Germans were guilty of starting World War II and killing the Jews so the accused men deserved to be mistreated.

            Comment by furtherglory — September 15, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

  10. It happened to me for a second time today, that the name of Lt. Col. Rosenfeld came to my attention. I have been reading a book written about eight years ago by a Russian patriot, and he has mentioned the names of Lt. Col. Rosenfeld, as well as Lt. Perl as torturers at the Dachau Trials. Were they Jews? Were they driven by tribal survivor instincts, but not justice. Were they really Americans with “Justice for All” beliefs, or, Old Testament/Talmud driven, bloodthirsty psychos?
    “Another witness, court reporter James J. Bailey, testified that he had seen Jewish interrogator Lt. William Perl strike the German prisoners. Kurt Teil, an interpreter for the army, testified that both Perl and another Jewish interrogator, Harry Thon, had spoken approvingly to him about violent methods of interrogation, and claimed that Thon showed him one of the SS men who was lying motionless in his cell with a hood still over his head after he had been interrogated.”
    The writer of the book “The Rat-People” is Orey Volot. The patriots of Russia still remember the names of all perpetrators against Germans, Russians and other people of Europe. They still remember the holocaust of Russian and all other Nations of former USSR made by Rosenfelds and Perls, working for NKVD/KGB.
    Did I answer your question, tampalam?

    Comment by Gasan — September 13, 2010 @ 9:21 pm

    • Harry Thon, Josef Kirschbaum, and William Perl were the subjects of a Congressional investigation in which they were accused of having used torture to force the SS soldiers to confess in the Malmedy Massacre case. All three were Jewish.

      Comment by furtherglory — September 13, 2010 @ 10:31 pm

  11. Lt. Col. Rosenfeld ruled that “to admit a confession of the accused, it need not be shown such confession was voluntarily made….”
    This is the proof of torture. “Non-voluntarily confessions” means they have been extracted from the defendants under “duress”, or in more common English, torture.

    Comment by Gasan — September 13, 2010 @ 7:40 am

  12. What evidence is there that German prisoners were tortured at Dachau?

    Comment by tampalam — September 13, 2010 @ 12:14 am

    • German prisoners testified under oath at the American Military Tribunal proceedings that they had signed their confessions after they were tortured. One of them wrote a final statement to the court before he was executed which you can read here:

      The Germans confessed to things that had not happened and the only reason they signed these confessions is because they were tortured while they were awaiting trial at Dachau.

      Comment by furtherglory — September 13, 2010 @ 6:47 am

  13. The blogger apparently did not understand how much he has revealed about Malmedy incident. The company commander Lt. Virgil Lary was, either not telling the whole truth, or just was lying altogether. After he surrendered his company, Peiper left two Panzer IV tanks with five crewmembers in each of them to guard 150 some American POW. Lary is telling us that two of them decided to escape and were shot. (They tried to escape after surrender, thus have lost the POW status). And then the machine guns of both tanks started to shot everybody else. Lt. Lary did not tell us what happened to him after Germans stopped shooting. Did he escape, or was he recaptured?
    It is my understanding, that after being left only with 10 guards, 150 some GI’s decided to overwhelm them and escape after they have surrendered once already. The Germans opened fire like every other guards in the world would do. In any case, even reading that blog, one can easily understand that incident was provoked by GI’s.
    In the worst case, it was their commander Lt. Lary, who ordered his people to attack German guards in a clear violation of Geneva Convention.

    Comment by Gasan — September 11, 2010 @ 2:23 pm

    • I have added an update about Lt. Lary. He survived and testified at the American Military Tribunal.

      Comment by furtherglory — September 11, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

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