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ROBERT C. STERN, illustrated by DON GREER and RON VOLSTAD
Appearing more than a year older since we last saw him, Standartenführer Joachim Peiper, commander of the armored spearhead of the whole offensive, is seen here.
Panzergrenadiers on top, another late-war vehicle is seen here. This time it is a Pz IV/70 Panzerjager of HJ. Note the nearly pristine condition of the ambush scheme paint job. [US Army]
Another rare view of a rare late war vehicle. Being the first to receive new equipment as it came into service, SS units were frequently the only ones to receive some just-developed vehicles. In this case it is an SdKfz 234/1 Tatra "tropical" armored car. This shot must be from the first days of the campaign as it shows the eight wheel carrying a load of still smiling HJ grenadiers. [US Army]
A motorcyclist of HJ delivers a message to some Luftwaffe Fallschirmjüger who are riding an HJ Tiger ausf B King Tiger. Of interest is the evidence of the carefully sprayed ambush scheme visible on the rear of the Tiger II. Also the U-boat leathers being worn by the motorcyclist. This was a much more appropriate use for this all leather suit than as a tanker's uniform. [US Army]
An SS trooper is seen discussing the world situation with a disarmed Hungarian. There is little reason for them to smile. This photo is believed to be from one of the last series of propaganda shots attempting to show German strength. It was probably taken at Stuhlweissenburg [Szekesfehervar] west of Budapest, just prior to the last offensive, Unternehmen Frühlingserwachen [Morning Watch], The Tiger II in the background is not an SS vehicle, although it may belong to an associated Army sPz-Abt.
Having withdrawn all the way from Oranienbaum to Berlin, Nordland fought its last battles around the grave of its Führer. It died too. Among the last of its vehicles, this late SdKfz 250/1 ISPW is seen in the streets of Berlin. It was painted overall Sand Yellow with a hasty Red Brown overspray and a great deal of dirt. The division fought on for a few more days, surrendering in Charlottenberg, just West of the city.
Other Waffen-SS troops ended the war as victims of the outrage that followed discovery of the system of atrocities they had aided. Here can be seen the bodies of grenadiers of a detached battalion of Wiking which had taken over the defense of KL Dachau in Bavaria from camp guards. When the defenders of such camps surrendered, those who had not been killed in the battle were frequently executed by the Allies or turned over to the justice of the ex-prisoners. There were few survivors.
A fitting final shot. A Kfz 70, probably a Steyr 1500A of Hitlerjugend burns by the side of a French road. That fire marks the end of a system that witnessed great glory and committed atrocious horrors. And it marks the end of the fighting units of the Waffen-SS that were to the world the symbol of its armed strength. [Bundesarchiv]