Joachim Peiper (foreground) in his command vehicle Sd.Kfz. 251 giving instruction outside Kharkov

Joachim Peiper (foreground) in his command vehicle Sd.Kfz. 251 giving instruction outside Kharkov in February 1943. During this period the 320. Infanterie-Division was cut off by the Red Army with a wide gap of some 65km (40 miles) appeared between it and the Leibstandarte Division. A kampfgruppe under the command of SS-Sturmbannführer Joachim Peiper was formed and tasked with penetrating some 40km (25 miles) behind enemy lines, contacting the 320. Infanterie-Division, and guiding it back to the German lines. This was no small undertaking, but was one which Peiper accomplished with great success and remarkably little loss of life. For this achievement, Peiper was awarded the Knight’s Cross. It was the first of many daredevil exploits which would be carried out by this remarkable soldier.

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