Beginning November 1943, Peiper’s unit arrived on the Eastern Front, where it took part in combat in the area of Zhytomyr. On Nov 20, Georg Schönberger was killed in action, and Peiper took his place as commander of the 1. SS Panzer Regiment, a position he held until the end of the war. Peiper was 28 years old. Under his command, the regiment fought through the winter and was engaged in numerous night assaults against the Red Army. His Panzer unit played an essential role in stalling the Soviet offensive in the area of Zhytomyr. Peiper led actions by attacking the rear of enemy lines and captured four division headquarters. For this action he was awarded the Oak Leaves of the Knight’s Cross. Peiper’s aggressiveness and regiment command appointment caused resentment by some against him. In the mean time, brutal combat involving his unit continued. On December 5 and 6 1943, the unit killed 2280 Russian soldiers and took only three prisoners. During heavy fighting, the village of Pekartschina was completely burned with flamethrowers and its inhabitants killed. On Jan 20 1944, Peiper was withdrawn from the front. He left his unit and went directly to Hitler’s Headquarters where he was awarded the Oak Leaves to be added to his Knight’s Cross. Shortly afterwards, on his 29th birthday, Peiper was promoted to SS-Obersturmbannführer. However, Peiper was physically and mentally exhausted. A medical examination carried out by SS doctors in Dachau reached the conclusion that he needed rest. Therefore, he went to see his wife in Bavaria. In March 1944, the LSSAH was withdrawn from the Eastern Front. The transfer of all its units was not completed before May 24. Peiper joined his unit in April. The battles in the east had caused heavy losses of men and material. The new recruits were not of the same caliber as the pre-war volunteers, who’d been recruited according to strict criteria. In Belgium, five young recruits accused of stealing poultry and ham from civilians were sentenced to death by a court-martial. The verdict seemed out of proportion to the offense, especially when looking at similar cases. Peiper ordered the five shot on May 28 1944 and had the other young recruits marched past the corpses; but the executions actually had a negative impact on the morale of the regiment. The stay in the Belgian Limburg was devoted mainly to drills and refit, made more difficult due to the lack of material and gasoline.
Josef Mengele was born the eldest of three children on 16 March 1911 to Karl and Walburga (Hupfauer) Mengele in Günzburg, Bavaria, Germany. His younger brothers were Karl Jr and Alois. Mengele’s father was founder of the Karl Mengele & Sons company, producers of farm machinery. Mengele did well in school and developed an interest in music, art, and skiing. He completed high school in April 1930 and went on to study medicine at Goethe University Frankfurt and philosophy at the University of Munich. Munich was the headquarters of the Nazi Party. In 1931 Mengele joined the Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten, a paramilitary organization that was in 1934 absorbed into the Nazi Sturmabteilung (Storm Detachment; SA). In 1935, Mengele earned a PhD in anthropology from the University of Munich. In January 1937, at the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene in Frankfurt, he became the assistant to Dr. Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, a scientist conducting genetics research, with a particular interest in twins. As an assistant to von Verschuer, Mengele focused on the genetic factors resulting in a cleft lip and palate or cleft chin. His thesis on the subject earned him a cum laude doctorate in medicine in 1938. Both of his degrees were later rescinded by the issuing universities. In a letter of recommendation, von Verschuer praised Mengele’s reliability and his ability to verbally present complex material in a clear manner. The American author Robert Jay Lifton notes that Mengele’s published works did not deviate much from the scientific mainstream of the time, and would probably have been viewed as valid scientific efforts even outside the borders of Nazi Germany.
US Department of Justice, Criminal Division
In the Matter of Josef Mengele
Report to the Attorney General
United States of America
Exhibits Prepared by : Office of Special Investigations Criminal Division, Neal M. Sher Director, Eli M. Rosenbaum Principal Deputy Director
Josef Mengele was an SS physician, infamous for his inhumane medical experimentation upon concentration camp prisoners at Auschwitz. Born on March 16, 1911, in Günzburg, near Ulm, he was the eldest son of Karl Mengele, a prosperous manufacturer of farming implements. In 1935, Mengele earned a Ph.D. in physical anthropology from the University of Munich. In January 1937, at the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene in Frankfurt, he became the assistant of Dr. Otmar von Verschuer, a leading scientific figure widely known for his research with twins. In 1937 Mengele joined the Nazi Party. The following year, the same year in which he received his medical degree, he joined the SS. In June 1940, Mengele was drafted into the army, and thereafter volunteered into the medical service of the Combat Waffen-SS. Although documentation is scant and often contradictory regarding Mengele’s activities between this time and early 1943, it is clear that he first functioned as a medical expert for the Race and Settlement Main Office [Rasse und Siedlungshauptamt, or RuSHA] in summer 1940 at the Central Immigration Office [Einwandererstelle] North-East in Posen (today Poznan) and thereafter served as a medical officer with the SS Division Wiking (SS Pioneer Battalion V), with which he saw action on the Eastern Front. Wounded while on campaign, Mengele returned to Germany in January 1943, and began work at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (KWI) for Anthropology, Human Genetics, and Eugenics, directed by his former mentor von Verschuer. In April of 1943, he received a promotion to the rank of SS captain; this advancement shortly preceded Mengele’s transfer to Auschwitz, on May 30, 1943.
In 1933, approximately 9.5 million Jews lived in Europe, comprising 1.7% of the total European population. This number represented more than 60 percent of the world’s Jewish population at that time, estimated at 15.3 million. The majority of Jews in prewar Europe resided in eastern Europe.
During this period, the largest Jewish communities in this area were in :
Soviet Union, 2.525.000
Great Britain, 300.000
Before the Nazis seized power in 1933, Europe had a richly diverse set of Jewish cultures, many of which were dynamic and highly developed, that drew from hundreds and, in some areas, a thousand or more years of Jewish life on the continent. The diverse nature of individual Jewish communities in occupations, religious practices, involvement and integration in regional and national life, and other areas made for fruitful and multifarious Jewish life across Europe. In many countries, Jews stood as cultural and political luminaries, and had marched alongside non-Jews in World War I. In little more than a decade, most of Europe would be conquered, occupied, or annexed by Nazi Germany and its Axis partners, and the majority of European Jews – two out of every three – would be dead.
Official File – Brig Gen R. MCCLure, Chief PWD SHAEF (Main) (For Mr. C. D. Jackson)
From : Brigadier A. C. Neville, BGS (P&W), Main HQ, 21st Army Group
Report on Atrocities committed by the Germans against the Civilian Population in Belgium
This report was originally published in December 1944 by Headquarters 21st Army Group under the tittle of “Report on German Atrocities”. It has now been decided to publish that part of the original report which deal with atrocities committed by the Germans against the civilian population in Belgium. Since the original report was published certain additional information regarding German atrocities against the civilian population has become available and has been included in this edition.
The following abbreviations occur in the report :
SS – Schutz Staffel (Originally mean bodyguards, now signifies Nazi Party troops)
SD – Sicherheitsdienst (German Security Service)
SP – Sicherheitspolizei (German Security Police)
GFP – Geheime Feldpolizei (German Field Police)
VNV – Vlaamish Nationaal Verbond (Belgian (Vlaamishe) pro-German movement)
MNB – Mouvement National Belge (Belgian Resistance Movement)