Author: Lesley Beck
Artwork: Lesley Beck
Edited by k0nsl
Peiper was a great commander. His men in Kampfgruppe Peiper speak very highly of him, they say he was like a brother or an “uncle figure” who always had time for them.
Peiper had many layers! He was a good man, very fair. He was not particularly harsh, a pragmatist maybe, but not the evil person who others write about, and although a member of the NSDAP he was quite apolitical; he was a soldier first and foremost.
As for him as a person. He was an educated man who came from a good background (not rich but not poor). He seemed slightly shy and even self-conscious, someone who did not open up easily unless he knew you well; stand-offish to some. He had a ready smile that made him a bit of a “poster boy” for the party propaganda moguls, probably much to his embarrassment!
He was a little twitchy, I guess that is what war does to you, I see him constantly looking at his hands or messing with his honour ring. He was also a heavy smoker, I think he smoked for some relief from the stresses he was under during his years as Commander.
If you look at his body language in images with him as Himmler’s Adjutant, you will see a slightly self-conscious young man. As he became embroiled in the Kursk and Ardennes offensives he kind of grew. That awkward “young man look” has gone and in its place is a strong and confident man who is responsible for the lives of many others other than himself.
After the war and his trials were over Jochen sought solitude in nature; the smile was mostly missing and he spent his days working his woods with his 2 dogs as companion. He liked nature and birds, even having a 1/2 tame crow as a friend which he spoke about in one of his letters.
Finally, I believe Jochen just wanted to be left alone; he wanted to be with nature and his dogs. The post-war world outside of his home did not hold any interest for him. He wanted seclusion.
I hope this goes some way to answering your question.