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December 16, 1944--January 25, 1945

Today is the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge. It was Hitler's last gasp as German troops pushed the Allies back in the Ardennes, creating a 'bulge' in the Allied lines. This battle was the largest land battle that the U.S. Army would ever fight. It was also the worst winter in living memory. Apparently the worst weather waited until World War II to appear in Europe, as a vicious storm had wrecked supply ships and lines after D-Day in June.

American troops were looking forward to being rotated home for Christmas and others were hoping to drive on to Berlin without much resistance. The Battle of the Bulge caught them unawares, but by the end of January, the German resistance had been broken and the race was on for Berlin between the Allies and the Soviet Union.

Studies done of the battle noted that when the American soldiers were cut off from their units and commanders, they excelled in improvising and lower-ranked soldiers stepping up to take command, a characteristic of 'Yankees' but outstanding in this chaotic battle which covered hundreds of miles and snow-laden fields that could hide the fallen. Germans were the better all-around soldiers but the Americans were better at deviating from plans if necessary and not letting rank deter them from successfully completing a mission and doing it with as few lives lost as possible.

This characteristic was shown in the 1965 movie, The Battle Of The Bulge, along with the interesting side story of Germans infiltrating American lines, posing as American soldiers and creating confusion by switching signs and directing troops the wrong way, etc. They also covered the Malmedy massacre. The S.S. murdered dozens of American P.O.W.s and stiffened resistance along the American lines once word got out.

There was also an interesting scene as one character, a Nazi panzer commander, showed his superior a chocolate cake taken from a captured American prisoner. He said that the Americans had no concept of being conquered, and they had the fuel to ferry chocolate cakes across the Atlantic while the Germans scrounged for fuel.

Back home, Americans agonized over the fate of their loved ones as they followed the battle in the newspapers and on the radio. The homefront in the U.S. was a safe place from bombs but not from worry and fear.

The Battle of the Bulge

December 16, 1944--January 25, 1945

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