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Agte, Patrick. Jochen Peiper: Commander Panzerregiment Leibstandarte. Winnipeg: J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing, Inc, 1999
Among students of the Second World War exists a sub-culture of enthusiasts
who will embrace Jochen Peiper as one of the finest books of recent
Gostl was then on his own. The enemy had detected him and placed Gostl's machine gun under aimed fire. Suddenly, he was badly hit; the shot shattered his left eye. Now began what Erich Gostl later described as "only doing my duty." He stayed behind his gun and fired belt after belt into the ranks of the attackers. The loud staccato of his MG-42 roared out and his bursts tore into the enemy. Grimacing in pain, the young Viennese lay behind his weapon and fired and fired and fired again. Once more he came under well-aimed fire. Shrapnel wounded him on the upper left arm, but he didn't even glance at the wound.
Here Agte describes another action with a bit less splatter:
Only after most of Peiper's Panzergruppe had raced through Honsfeld did the overrun Americans realize the disaster that had befallen them, and a few offered sporadic resistance to the following Panthers and paratroopers. SS-Untersscharfuehrer Willi Kritzler's Panther "232" and SS-Untersscharfuehrer Walter Puplik's Panther "235" of the 2./SS-Panzer-Regiment 1 were destroyed by antitank guns before Honsfeld. Two armored Flak carriers of the 10. (Flak)/SS-Panzer-Regiment 1 were destroyed in Honsfeld and the company commander, SS-Obersturmfuehrer Vogler, was wounded. After treatment, he remained with his company, which was distributed along the march column. When a Tiger from schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 501, which was carrying paratroopers from the 14./Fallschirmjaeger-Regiment 9, later ran into antitank gun fire near the cemetery in Honsfeld, the paratroopers jumped off, the Tiger rammed the wall and destroyed two antitank guns. The Tiger had been hit four times without effect. After that, the paratroopers discovered an American supply dump and supplied the Tiger crews passing through from its contents. Some 50 armored scout cars and half-tracks were captured in Honsfeld. Most of the Fallschirmjaeger battalion remained in the village, while a company-sized element stayed on the tanks of the Panzergruppe. The paratroopers continued with the Panzergruppe and accompanied Peiper's entire advance.
By way of comparison, Reynolds describes the same scene:
It was only later, after daylight, that the Americans in the houses and farms on the edge of Honsfeld began to offer some resistance. Sporadic fighting lasted for the rest of the morning, mainly involving the paratroopers on the Tigers brining up the rear of Peiper's column. They suffered thirteen killed and thirty-four wounded before the last Americans surrendered. It also seems that two Panthers of SS Lieutenant Christ's 2nd SS Panzer Company were hit during this period. It is just possible that they were engaged from the area of Hunningen but this appears unlikely as the range would have been at least 1000m. One TD of the 1st Platoon A Company 801st, sited near Hunningen and commanded by the Company Commander himself, claimed to have knocked out four Type IV German tanks and an SPW during the morning before it in turn was knocked out, but there is no mention of this on the German side. It seems more likely that the Panthers were lost to bazookas, or perhaps to fire from two guns of the 612th TD Company which were rushed into action once they could see. One, commanded by Sergeant Fayne Haynes, claimed to have hit three enemy vehicles.
In general, Agte describes more detail and utilizes more German sources,
but fewer Allied sources than Reynolds. In addition to being specifically
about Peiper, Reynolds' book tends to look more at the bigger picture while
Agte's work tends to highlight individual efforts.
...Jochen Peiper has an assured place in the long row of the greatest German soldiers of all time. His life as a soldier and as an unbending prisoner of the enemy powers is exemplary and can serve as an example.... Jochen Peiper can be considered, without question, representative of the best in German soldiers and as a servant to his people. Moreover, even during the war, he adopted the idea of one Europe, which had already been given initial form in the Waffen-SS.
As if this rhetoric were not sufficient to sour the wine, Agte closes his book with Jochen Peiper's own words as though worthy of reverence:
Where would the torn-apart west be today, without each of those dikes of German bodies that were so important to history and that can no longer be ignored? The line of occidental combat outposts runs in a wide circle from the Caucasus to Finland. Representatives of our entire culture keep watch silently. And although their grave mounds are leveled and many nations are still ashamed of their noblest sons, it is still only thanks to this avant-garde of the idea of a single Europe that Genghis Khan's heirs didn't ride their tanks all the way to the Atlantic.
Perhaps unwittingly, Agte proves on this final page that whatever can be
said about Peiper as a military leader, as a student of history Peiper seems to have
learned only what Adolf Hitler taught him.
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Reviewed 27 January 2000
Reviewed 27 January 2000
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