Battle of the Bulge

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Battle of the Bulge
US soldiers of the 290 Reg. Fight in fresh snow near Amonines, Belgium
US soldiers of the 290 Reg. Fight in fresh snow near Amonines , Belgium
date December 16, 1944 to January 21, 1945
place Ardennes , Belgium , Luxembourg
output strategic victory of the allies
Parties to the conflict

United States 48United States United States United Kingdom
United KingdomUnited Kingdom 

German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era) German Empire


United States 48United States Dwight D. Eisenhower Omar N. Bradley Bernard Montgomery
United States 48United States
United KingdomUnited Kingdom

German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era) Gerd von Rundstedt Walter Model
German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era)

Troop strength
about 83,000 soldiers at the beginning of the offensive,
400 tanks,
400 guns
about 200,000 soldiers,
600 tanks,
1,900 guns

87,000 casualties
(19,276 dead, 21,144 prisoners / missing, 47,139 wounded)

68,000 casualties
(17,236 dead, 16,000 prisoners / missing, 34,439 wounded)

Course of the Ardennes offensive from December 16 to 25, 1944.

The Ardennes Offensive , the German code name company "Wacht am Rhein" , was an attempt by the German armed forces to inflict a major defeat on the Western Allied armies and to recapture the port of Antwerp . Without the port, the Allies would not have been able to land the supplies they needed for their further advance. The Ardennes Offensive is considered to be the penultimate German offensive on the Western Front in World War II . Hitler hoped to be able to take advantage of the calm created by the Battle of the Bulge on other sections of the front. Therefore he ordered an offensive ( Operation Nordwind ) in Lorraine and Alsace to break up the 7th US Army . Both offensives failed.

Anglo American usage the battle as is "Battle of the Bulge" ( Battle of the Bulge called). In the winter of 1944, three German armies in the east and north-east of Belgium and in parts of Luxembourg surprisingly attacked the 12th Army Group . The areas around the cities of Bastogne , St. Vith , Rochefort , La Roche , Houffalize , Stavelot , Clervaux , Diekirch , Vianden and the southern eastern cantons were affected . The enterprise, which was originally referred to as "Enterprise Christmas Rose", began on December 16, 1944 and initially broke into the opposing front line over a width of 60 km by 100 km. The destination was Antwerp , through whose port most of the Allied supplies ran. German attack peaks came within a few kilometers of the Meuse , but on the flanks the troops were held up in protracted battles for places such as Bastogne and St. Vith, which gave the Allies time to regroup and bring troops into a counter-offensive. After six weeks the front was back to normal. The Americans were able to more than compensate for their losses in soldiers and material within two weeks, while the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS used up important reserves. After the failure of the Ardennes offensive, the Wehrmacht leadership named the "Wacht am Rhein" (Colonel General Alfred Jodl in his New Year's address in 1945) as the next target (or, as one Wehrmacht officer put it, they went from "Fortress Europe" to "Fortress Germany") .

In total, just over a million soldiers were involved in the battle. For the United States, the Battle of the Bulge was the largest land battle of World War II; About 20,000 deaths made it the bloodiest battle of the entire war for the US Army .

Starting position

The military situation in autumn 1944

After the Allied Operation Overlord, the Wehrmacht withdrew from the Atlantic coast to the former borders of the empire in the west after heavy defeats. On the Eastern Front , too, the Wehrmacht had found itself in a precarious situation since the Soviet summer offensives, which had inflicted the worst defeats of the war to date on the Wehrmacht on a front stretching over 2,500 kilometers. After the collapse of Army Group Center as a result of Operation Bagration in June and July, which was in July and August, Army Group North Ukraine in the Lvov-Sandomierz Offensive severely beaten and shortly thereafter Army Group South Ukraine in the Jassy-Kishinev Offensive almost destroyed.

The Army Group North , the early September Estonia , western Latvia could hold and a narrow land bridge to Central Army Group (→  operation doppelkopf ), was according to the puncture Soviet organizations to the Baltic Sea as part of the Baltic operations in October with 27 divisions cut off. In the north, after Finland signed the Moscow armistice with the Soviet Union on September 4, 1944 , the German units had to be withdrawn from northern Norway. In the southern part of the Eastern Front, the gate to the Balkans was open to the Red Army after Romania's conversion ( coup on August 23, 1944 ) to the Allies. The Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria on September 5 (details here ). Soviet tanks reached the Iron Gate and the Romanian-Yugoslav border at the beginning of September and advanced into the Hungarian lowlands in mid-September . The Battle of Budapest began on October 29th . Counterattacks by the Wehrmacht were able to temporarily stabilize the eastern front over a length of 1,200 kilometers between the Baltic Sea and the Carpathian Mountains towards the end of November . From July to November 1944, the Eastern Army had lost around 1.2 million soldiers. In November, 131 German divisions, 32 of them bound in Courland and 17 in Hungary, faced around 225 infantry divisions and around 50 large armored units of the Red Army. After that, the German troops were far inferior both personally and materially. In the winter offensive expected in 1945, the collapse of the eastern front seemed inevitable.

In the southeast, the Red Army's successes during the Belgrade operation put the German occupation forces in Greece , Albania and Yugoslavia in danger of being cut off. The withdrawal of Army Group E , ordered at the beginning of October, was initially regulated, but it became increasingly difficult to hold the front between the Adriatic  - Drava and Lake Balaton until November after the connection with Army Group South had been established . The Italian theater of war had lost a lot of its importance after the Allied invasion of Normandy. The Army Group C was the end of November with 23 divisions of varying quality, the line La Spezia  - Rimini across the Apennines keep though. Nevertheless, the ties of these forces through the Allies and through lively partisan activity as a whole had a significant impact. On the western front, the success of the Allied invasion of northern France through the heavy German defeats at Avranches and Falaise had finally become apparent . Under task of Paris , the retired Army Group B , the Field Marshal Model mid-August of Field Marshal von Kluge had taken over, back across the Seine rapidly eastward. Overall, it differed from the Eastern Front in that the German losses in the West were greater than those of their opponents.

After American and French troops landed near Toulon on August 15 ( Operation Dragoon ), the two German armies of Army Group G on the Atlantic ( Bordeaux ) and the Mediterranean that remained in south-southwest France had to be withdrawn; the attackers made rapid progress through the Rhone valley. In early September the withdrawal of the western army came on a line to a halt by the Scheldt estuary by Holland to West Wall south of Trier led from there the Mosel followed and then the border of Switzerland reached. All the German units were badly battered, staffed out and hardly in possession of heavy weapons. Chronic lack of fuel led to a loss of mobility, which had a particularly strong effect due to the Allied air superiority. The Siegfried Line was strengthened and occupied with quickly assembled units. In mid-September, Army Group B (Scheldt estuary to Trier) faced 21 infantry divisions and 7 armored divisions with far superior Allied forces on a front line of around 400 kilometers . Overall, the Wehrmacht had been pushed back into the former Reich territory on all fronts by late autumn 1944 and Aachen was the first German city to be captured by the Allies on October 21 . These were now far superior in terms of personnel and material and no longer expected to lose the initiative again.

From a German point of view, a change in these conditions was out of the question. The naval war , which on the German side could only be waged as a submarine war against enemy merchant and transport shipping, had been lost since 1943 (see Atlantic battle ). Since the beginning of that year, the Allies' increase in tonnage has exceeded its losses. The air war in 1944 had also long been considered decided. The Allies had absolute control of the air at the front and over the Reich . In order to have a chance for his counter-offensive, Hitler had to bet on bad weather, which would severely hinder the use of fighter planes and bombers.

The political situation

In view of the impending military collapse, the domestic political situation was dominated by total war . It was about the mobilization of the last personal, material and moral forces. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels , appointed Reich Plenipotentiary for the total war effort , used Nazi propaganda with a mixture of threats and promises, lies and half-truths in connection with his talent for speech to strengthen the perseverance or perseverance of the Germans and the possibility of a final victory to suggest. Rigorous measures and interventions in public, economic and private life should activate the last performance reserves. Many unwilling and unbelievers were hit by the brutal terror of the omnipresent police and repression apparatus under Heinrich Himmler .

The last European allies ( Hungary , Slovakia and Croatia ) still remaining in the German Reich after the change of sides between Italy , Romania, Bulgaria and Finland were, from a military, economic and political point of view, puppet states that the German Reich only held as allies with massive interventions in domestic politics could become. The French Vichy regime Philippe Pétain , which did not take part in the war but was heavily dependent on Germany, increasingly turned into a purely puppet regime as long as its domain had not already fallen into the control of the Allies.

Since the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, the Western powers had committed themselves to the demand for an unconditional surrender , which Adolf Hitler was not prepared to accept. There were enough reasons for this attitude of the Western powers. Atrocities committed by the Nazi regime were known and Roosevelt and Churchill refused to negotiate with Hitler. They did not want to have their complete freedom of action after the end of the war curtailed by early agreements with the Reich. In view of this, a separate peace with the West was not to be expected.

Stalin, on the other hand, did not seem completely averse to a peace agreement. Anger between him and the Western powers was obvious, especially in view of the repeated delay in the opening of the Second Front in the West, which had been promised since 1943. There were at least two cautious contacts between German and Soviet mediators (in Sweden in 1943 and through the mediation of Japan in 1944), which Hitler let slip by. Overall, based on current knowledge, it seems very unlikely that the Soviet Union would have seriously agreed to a separate peace. A victory over Germany with all its consequences was an expected goal and a separate peace could hardly have been communicated in the army.

In this hopeless situation, some high-ranking German Nazi functionaries believed that the Western allies would break with the Soviet Union and would recognize that, after the success of the Battle of the Bulge , they could smash the “common Bolshevik enemy” in the east with the help of the steadfast German army in the west .

The leeway for a political solution to the conflict or for an active foreign policy of the Reich, however, was zero.

The offensive


Extensive ignorance of foreign policy contexts and the rules of the game of democratic decision-making in the governments of his Western opponents allowed Hitler to come to a wrong assessment of the foreign policy situation. In his view, the coalition of his western opponents, especially that of the USA on the one hand and Great Britain with Canada, Australia and New Zealand on the other, was on the verge of collapse. By wrongly evaluating numerous foreign policy indicators and combining them into an overall assessment determined by illusions or wishful thinking, he came to the conclusion that only one more sensitive blow was needed to break out on the Western Allies, which would cause the collapse of the anti-Hitler coalition . The Anglo-Americans would withdraw to their home countries and the German Reich would be able to successfully end the defensive struggle in the east against the impending Bolshevization of Europe.

Such a shaking of the political balance of the Western powers could, according to Hitler's view, only consist in an overwhelming military success, in a surprising, crushing major offensive on the Western Front. The last reserves of the Wehrmacht and the people had to be mobilized for this, everything had to be put on one card, the possible downfall of the Reich had to be accepted. The basic idea of ​​the Battle of the Bulge was born in Hitler's mind. All available files indicate that it was he alone who came up with the idea of risking the gamble in his own nihilistic attitude and attempting, with a final and ruthless effort, to "turn around" the war, which had long been lost militarily . A final military victory was no longer to be hoped for, even on the part of Hitler. Rather, in Hitler's illusory misunderstanding and megalomania, the “shock” of a successful German offensive in the western public was supposed to create the basis for the acceptance of a political end to the war. As a last resort , the Social Darwinist Hitler had already decided that the German people would perish if they were not able to crown their plans with success.

“In no other operation of the war was Hitler's irrational wishful thinking more evident, never was the gap between madness and reality greater. He brushed aside all the counter-arguments of his military advisers, all the calculations of the logisticians. He only believed in the 'power of will'. "

- Karl-Heinz Frieser : The German Blitzkriege. Operational triumph - strategic tragedy

However, there were also - at least from Hitler's point of view - rational reasons to make one last attempt in the West. In the east, despite apparently much more favorable conditions, there had been no decisive victory since 1941, and since the failure of the Citadel enterprise in 1943 the initiative had been on the side of the Red Army. In the west, where the Wehrmacht had been victorious within weeks in 1940, the distances were shorter and the traffic conditions more favorable. In addition, Hitler now assessed the fighting morale of the Western Allies lower than that of the Russians. In his view, this was the only chance, if anything, of turning the war around. To do nothing was tantamount to capitulating for Hitler. And so the last human strength should be used.


Field Marshals Model and von Rundstedt and General Krebs at a meeting in November 1944

"There was one man behind this gigantic deployment plan: Adolf Hitler."

His recovery of the “law of action”, which alone guaranteed him success, was developed by Hitler on the day on which the 3rd US Army broke up the German front around the bridgehead in Normandy , July 31, 1944, in a briefing with Colonel General Jodl , the chief of the Wehrmacht command staff in the OKW (High Command of the Wehrmacht) and his deputy, General Warlimont . Due to the 'allegiance problem' that Hitler felt not just since the assassination attempt of July 20, 1944 and in view of the current catastrophic situation in the West and also on the Eastern Front, he had to carefully develop his personal plans even in the immediate vicinity and initially Jodl of the necessity In the medium term, even more aggressive ideas will convince. The “blindness” that Hitler is often held up against by historiography towards the “facts” is put into perspective in the documents - for example, on July 13, 1944, when Caen was lost in the bridgehead , a “decree of the Fuehrer on authority in an operational area within the Reich ”, which gives detailed instructions for a restructuring of the command structures, the relations between the party and the armed forces as well as logistical issues“ in the event of an advance of enemy forces on German Reich territory ”.

The on-site military orders sounded different to those affected not only in the summer of 1944, and often tactically senseless, but for Hitler there was no 'humanistic consideration' towards his own troops - he consistently pursued strategic intentions. This is reflected in the above-mentioned briefing on July 31, in which he persuaded Jodl and Warlimont to adopt his views: For example, Hitler interprets the “narrowing of space” as an opportunity, because one can “lock Germany off with a minimum of forces ". Hitler definitely sees the limitation of forces, the acutely limited mobility of the units, the lack of air superiority, the losses in the east, the existential problems of the previous allies with the consequence “possibly even surrender of the whole Balkans”. He takes into account the retreat to the Siegfried Line. He foresees Montgomery's strategy of breaking into Germany in the north. Conclusion: "These are so far-reaching thoughts that, if I were to share them with an army group today, they would cause horror, and I therefore believe that it is necessary that a very small staff of ours be deployed here." That is the most far-reaching one Conceived secrecy of future planning. Currently, the enemy’s supplies must be blocked by holding ports for as long as possible and logistical destruction and his “operation in the depths of space” must be made more difficult. Hitler orders the securing of a headquarters in the West and prepares his interlocutors for restructuring of the military organization and the commandos and familiarizes them with the idea of ​​"putting together a staff with a few intelligent and resourceful minds."

During the collapse of the defensive front in Normandy, Hitler exchanged the Commander-in-Chief West and Commander-in-Chief of Army Group B , Field Marshal Günther von Kluge , in both functions on August 17, 1944, for Field Marshal Walter Model without prior notice .

On August 24, 1944, immediately before the liberation of Paris by the Western Allies, the “Order for the expansion of the German western position” only deals with the Siegfried Line (including parts of the Maginot Line) and the “Moselle Line” as a “continuous tank obstacle ". The Somme-Marne line, which is still dealt with several times in the daily orders, does not play a role in the planning. On September 1, 1944, detailed instructions for "preparing the defense readiness" of the Siegfried Line and the western position followed. In instructions for warfare in the west from September 3 to 9, a comparatively flexible warfare is permitted with the aim of "gaining time for the formation and introduction of new units and for the expansion of the western position" and offensive operations in the south of the western front are prepared . With this Hitler had renewed the organizational structures in the rear area - also regulated the relationship of command between the Wehrmacht and the party in order to optimize the logistical preparation.

In mid-September 1944 “within three weeks of the fall of Paris and the devastating defeat of the German army in the battle of France, the Wehrmacht had almost restored its equilibrium; in any case it was no longer 'running' ”and“ on September 16, after his daily briefing in the 'Wolfsschanze', the Führer asked those generals whom he trusted most to have a second meeting in another room. ” Keitel and Jodl the Chief of the General Staff of the Army, Heinz Guderian , and General Kreipe on behalf of Göring. Hitler announced his plan for an offensive in the Ardennes: "across the Meuse and on to Antwerp."

“The next day, September 17, 1944, Hitler ordered accelerated preparations for the counter-offensive. He issued orders for the reorganization of the 6th Panzer Army and brought in a new man who would later play an important role - General Rudolf Gercke , head of the Wehrmacht transport system. "

On September 25, 1944 - the British withdrew after their defeat at Arnhem (Hitler had waited for the outcome of the battle) - "Hitler ordered Colonel-General Jodl to work out a comprehensive plan for the offensive." Keitel was given the logistics. “At the beginning of October Gercke had almost finished setting up the transport system. [...] Gercke's most important task, however, was the overhaul of the Deutsche Reichsbahn . "

The situation in the west had changed in the autumn: “The defensive victories that the Germans won at Arnheim, Aachen and Antwerp extended the war into spring 1945. These German successes thwarted Eisenhower's strategic plans and gave the Wehrmacht and the German people a new will to resist . […] On October 8th [after Toland on October 11th] Jodl submitted the draft for an offensive to be carried out through the Ardennes with the aim of Antwerp at the end of November. ”The company, initially called“ Christmas Rose ”,“ was based on two conditions: complete surprise of the enemy and a weather situation that made the use of Allied aircraft impossible. ”The highest level of secrecy was ordered.

“On the morning of October 12th, Jodl handed Hitler the plan that had been worked out.” The new code name was now “Watch on the Rhine”. With his appointment as colonel, Skorzeny received special assignments "behind the American lines". The next morning, October 13, von Rundstedt and Model received copies of the plan. Both immediately drew up 'counterplans'. “On October 27, the Führer met with Rundtstedt and Model.” Model tried to force a “small solution” (“Herbstnebel”) that seemed more appropriate to his powers, but “Hitler made the decision - against his votes Generals. On December 7th, he approved the final draft. [...] The company 'Wacht am Rhein' on the Rhine started. "

“At a final meeting on December 2nd in Berlin, in which v. Rundstedt refused, "[...] admitted Hitler Model," if the main operation should fail, one could always go over to the 'small solution'. […] On December 12th, four days before the start of the offensive, all of the higher leaders were called to Rundstedt's headquarters. [...] Hitler spoke for two hours, and for two hours the generals sat stiffly, each with an armed SS man behind his chair, who looked so grim that Bayerlein 'did not even dare to reach for the handkerchief'. "

Hitler's political calculation was "that he would now possibly achieve a compromise peace if he could deal a paralyzing blow to one or the other of his opponents." Against the Red Army, it seemed to him to be powerful and not feasible due to the 'depth of space' "Most likely" the law of action could be regained in the West. […] If Antwerp was taken, the Allies had lost the only (intact) large port […] and the Allied armies north of the Ardennes sat with their backs to the sea and without a sufficient port of embarkation, trapped. [...] Under such a defeat, Hitler believed, the coalition would break up. "

“None of the generals who had to endure the torrent of words believed that Antwerp could be taken, not least because of the lack of fuel. Hitler had promised enough supplies, but what had been allocated to them was barely enough to bring them to the Maas. They felt they needed to get hold of American camps, but because of the ban on aerial reconnaissance, they did not know where they were. At least they believed that they could reach the Meuse and inflict a heavy defeat on the Americans, provided that the deployment of forces remained unnoticed until the end. "

- Chester Wilmot : The struggle for Europe , p. 554 f.

When choosing the focus of attack between Monschau and Echternach , memories of the success of the sickle cut plan in May 1940 also played a role.

Hitler wanted to use a bad weather period to compensate for the enemy's air superiority.

This weather situation then developed in mid-December. At that time there was only a thin blanket of snow in the western German low mountain ranges, in the lowlands there was no snow at all. During the course of December 16, the current turned west / south-west and mild air masses with rain, thaw and poor visibility spread to the Ardennes area, so that the ground units would be able to act largely unmolested by air attacks.

To support the offensive, two commandos were planned:

  • Operation Greif was the code name for a command of German soldiers under the command of Otto Skorzeny . The English-speaking soldiers were supposed to camouflage themselves with uniforms of the US Army and carried the identification tags of fallen or captured US soldiers. The soldiers were grouped into four infantry, three tank, two replenishment and four tank destroyer companies, which were to be equipped with tanks and weapons from Allied booty. But there was a significant lack of equipment with heavy weapons. Of the 25 promised Sherman tanks , the troops received only two. The main task of the soldiers of the " Griffin Command " was to create confusion behind enemy lines; they were also supposed to occupy several bridges over the Meuse between Namur and Liège .

Forces involved

Three armies of Army Group B under General Field Marshal Walter Model - from north to south the 6th Panzer Army , the 5th Panzer Army and the 7th Army - had competed in the "decisive battle". Including the reserves of Army Group B , over 41 divisions with around a quarter of a million soldiers were ready to attack. They were concentrated on a 100-kilometer section between Monschau and Echternach. Model had its headquarters during the Ardennes offensive in the former headquarters of the OKH (part of the Führer headquarters Felsennest from 1940) in Hülloch near Bad Münstereifel . Shortly before the offensive began, Hitler moved into the Führer headquarters in Adlerhorst near Bad Nauheim .

German soldiers in camouflaged armored personnel carriers at the front in the Belgian-Luxembourg area during the Ardennes offensive, at the end of December 1944

Similar to 1940, German tank units were supposed to pave their way through the impassable terrain of the Ardennes and the western parts of the Eifel and throw the Allies back. The newly established 6th Panzer Army, to which the four SS tank divisions " Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler ", "Das Reich" , "Hohenstaufen" and "Hitler Youth" belonged, was located in the Losheimergraben area southwest of Cologne-Bonn. They had to carry out the main attack on the northern flank with the shortest route to Antwerp. In the order of the day of December 15, 1944, the Commander-in-Chief of the 6th Panzer Army, Sepp Dietrich , demanded that all of the Waffen-SS , Army and Air Force units subordinate to him should commit themselves to the last man.

American situation

In total, there were only four US divisions of the 1st US Army on the section of the front in question . At this point in time, the American side generally assessed the Germans' ability to attack as low, and an offensive in the Ardennes was the least expected. In addition, after the unsuccessful Operation Market Garden in September 1944 , the Allies were busy with their own offensive preparations north and south of the Ardennes. Thanks to Alan Turing in Bletchley Park , the English were able to decipher German radio communications. The most important orders on the German side, however, were transmitted by motorcyclist  - not by radio as before. The military intelligence services of the Allies did not succeed in deriving an "overall picture" and the correct ones from the individual elements that were certainly present, which indicated a planned large German enterprise (reports of troop transfers, individual statements from higher-ranking prisoners of war, intercepted radio messages, etc.) To draw conclusions.

The attack (December 16-20)

German infantry advancing, December 1944

Before dawn on December 16, 14 German infantry divisions advanced against only four divisions of the 8th American Corps on a 100 km front line. Supported by V-1 shells , the German infantry attacked the Allied positions, closely followed by tank divisions.

The German troops managed to surprise. The Americans could not hold their overstretched sections of the front, a disorderly retreat with partial abandonment of weapons and material began.

“The 6th Panzer Army , which had to lead the main thrust under the command of Sepp Dietrich , broke through the enemy front on the left wing and on December 18, passing Malmedy , fought for the crossing over the Amblève beyond Stavelot . The right wing, however, was already held at Monschau by the tough defense of the Americans. ”As a result (and due to insufficient fuel supply) the left wing, which had advanced 45 kilometers, remained far from Liège and came under counter-operations.

The weather situation developed as hoped in these early days. The sky was almost completely covered and the daily highs rose to +10 ° C for several days, for example in Aachen. Only the Stößer company suffered from the storm and was a failure. Due to the strong wind, only about a fifth of the troops reached the landing zone, the remaining paratroopers landed spread over the entire Ardennes.

Planning and execution

“The attack by General von Manteuffel's 5th Panzer Army developed far more successfully. Even before the four infantry and the two tank corps started the storm in the front line after strong artillery preparations, surprisingly […] storm battalions had seeped into the thinly manned American sector. On the evening of December 17th, the breakthrough on and west of the Our was achieved in several places. The tanks crossed the river at about midnight and reached the American main line by morning. The 47th Panzer Corps under General Freiherr von Lüttwitz approached Bastogne and threatened St. Vith. "

- Gert Buchheit: Hitler the General , p. 161
Briefing of the situation in the Luxembourg combat area, December 1944

December 18, 1944

In the morning v. Manteuffel struck a breach south of St. Vith and his tanks were on their way to Bastogne . A combat command from Patton's 10th Panzer Division reached the city in the evening and in the night the 101st Airborne Division also arrived before the Panzer Lehr Division (Bayerlein). In the north, Peiper's tank column, west of Stavelot, was stopped by "a group of pioneers employed to operate sawmills [... who] blew up two bridges in front of them."

However, the US headquarters had no information about these local successes and: “Retreating troops clogged the streets and blocked the way for reinforcements marching to the front. At times units were seized with complete panic following rumors that the Germans were coming ... ”“ On the evening of December 18th, Hodges had to admit: 'The enemy line can no longer be determined because the front in the river and its course is somewhat unclear . "

Allied leadership response

The American High Command at Versailles received the first news of 'minor break-ins' on a long front on the afternoon of December 16. According to his own statements, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was immediately convinced that it was not a local attack ', but General Omar Bradley , commander of the American 12th Army Group, considered the process for the next two days as a' diversionary attack 'against' Patton's advance in the Saar area '. Two armored divisions were put on the march “to the Ardennes [...] the reserves of the SHAEF , the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions in Reims [but] did not even move into the Ardennes by the evening of the second day, December 17th Marching readiness set. ”Eisenhower ordered, however, that General George S. Patton and his 3rd Army , which was in the south of the Saarland , should turn left to the north in order to attack the advancing German troops on their southern flank.

December 19, 1944

Manteuffel's troops took " Houffalize on the right and Wiltz on the left flank at Bastogne , thus enabling the city to be quickly enclosed." Infantry was supposed to keep them in check - the tanks were heading towards the Meuse and Manteuffel requested immediate reinforcements from Model. Model suggested to Hitler that the six reserve divisions, “since Dietrich's attack [on the right wing of the offensive] had got stuck, to exploit the breakthrough v. Throwing Manteuffels [...] into battle. For political reasons, however, Hitler wanted the SS to deliver the decisive blow and insisted that the two SS divisions be deployed in the north so that Dietrich would have another chance. The three Wehrmacht associations were the utmost that he wanted to release for Manteuffel. "

It was not until the morning of December 19 that a meeting with Bradley , Jacob L. Devers , George S. Patton, and others, arranged by Eisenhower in Verdun, resulted in a reasonably coordinated approach. "Due to the threatened collapse of the command structure of the Bradley High Command" [especially in the 1st Army under Courtney Hicks Hodges ] the front split into two parts by the German advance saw itself prompted in northern Montgomery, "the British XXX . Corps […] in the possible danger zone between Meuse and Brussels ”. So Eisenhower, against the violent protest of the American generals, considered giving the British Montgomery the leadership in the north from December 20, and thus also the supreme command of the 1st US Army and the 9th US Army : “The regulatory intervention in the inter-allied command structure came not a minute too early, because the battle was already slipping out of the hands of the leadership. "

M36 tank of the 82nd Airborne Division near Werbomont, December 20, 1944

On the evening of December 19, the situation for the Allies had become “much more serious. […] There were no American forces available […] to close the twenty mile gap between the 101st Airborne Division [in Bastogne] and the 82nd Airborne Division around Werbomont. The Germans marched through this gate onto the Namur - Dinant - Givet section of the Meuse , which was practically undefended. […] If the Germans crossed the Maas, the only reserve left to stop them was the British XXX. Corps."

"Bradley's countermeasures lagged far behind the pace of the battle, and by the evening of December 19th he was no longer able to influence them." He had no contact with Hodges, who was trying to "his crumbling southern flank" and at the same time "To remodel the northern flank" - "(too much) for an army staff."

December 20, 1944

In the morning, Eisenhower implemented his decision - he called Bradley himself, and the conversation turned out to be long and heated. […] Eisenhower ended the conversation with the words: 'Well then, Brad, it is my order.' “The Allied front was now divided: Montgomery commanded the northern section, Bradley the southern section.

In the south the attacks on Bastogne failed. Manteuffel “drove forward with the Panzer Lehr Division himself, led them around Bastogne and let them advance on St. Hubert on the 21st. The 2nd Panzer Division bypassed the place in the north. ”The commander in the city, McAuliffe , refused to surrender. “It was clear to him that the assertion of the square bound strong German parts. […] The 7th Army , attacking to the left of the 5th Panzer Army , whose task it should actually have been to block the roads leading from the south to Bastogne, only achieved some success at the beginning. [...] Therefore, the 5th Panzer Army had to gradually divert stronger parts from its own ranks for flank protection, so that the tip of its attack wedge became thinner and thinner. "

The situation of the 7th US Panzer Division in St. Vith, which lay at the tip of a deep wedge ("horseshoe line") protruding into the area already conquered by the Germans , became critical . Commander Hasbrouck had no more contacts and could only send a situation report by courier.

Assumption of command Montgomery

Already on December 18 - before Eisenhower considered including the British - Montgomery had sent "his own liaison officers to the American front": "At noon on December 20 they reported to him firsthand." When US Army Headquarters arrived, he was better informed than Hodges himself. One of his staff officers reported: "The field marshal walked into Hodges' headquarters like Christ in the temple to cleanse him." The delegation of the command in the north of the battlefield to the British field marshal led to violent reactions in the US army and in the American press and public.

Armored patrol of the 82nd US Airborne Division near Heeresbach

Montgomery recovered, however, and at first it was just a matter of reacting immediately to the existing chaos. It was clear that the focus of the offensive was now on the 6th Panzer Army. The divisions of the 9th and 1st Armies were moved west and the British tried to convey to the Americans the need to take back exposed projections (especially the 'horseshoe') and shorten the line. Hodges wanted to attack, however, Montgomery gave in: On the night of December 21, the 82nd Airborne Division under Ridgway "completed the encirclement of the attacking column of Peiper and established a connection with the west side of the 'horseshoe' of St. Vith", ...

Attack phases December 16 to 24, 1944. Road connections

21st December

... but the following morning the 116th Panzer Division had "outflanked its [Ridgways] western flank with a quick advance in the Ourthetal [... and] already attacked, deep in its rear, Hotton, thirty miles west of St. Vith." Shortly afterwards “St. Vith was taken, and Ridgway found himself attacked with full force by the 2nd SS Panzer Corps . Far from closing the gap, the 1st Army was now being pushed back by attacks in rapid succession. ”These attacks were carried out by twelve German divisions, including seven tank divisions.

Second combat phase (December 21st to 31st)

The surprise attack on December 16 was a success and the operations behind the American lines had also had an effect. On the south wing, however, it was not possible to take the Bastogne traffic junction (there were three million gallons of fuel stored there ), St. Vith stayed in the middle and the SS Panzer divisions made no progress in the north. Only the combat group Peiper, which was guilty of crimes, was able to break through; it failed shortly before the opportunity to capture a huge fuel store (eleven million gallons) and was encircled itself. But the American defensive successes were based on the resistance of individual, mostly isolated units; the Allied command structure was still being reorganized on December 21st. The German 5th Panzer Army in the south remained offensive and the 6th Panzer Army had now started a renewed attack with reinforcements.

Montgomery now emphatically took the lead and was no longer “bothered by this or that development or prediction. [...] First he wanted to stop the Germans head-on in order to push them away from their strategic marching goal and force them to advance to the southwest, where they could not cause any harm. "

The second attack phase (arrowheads to the outer line)

The first attack by the 6th Panzer Army "was directed against the Malmédy - Butgenbach - Monschau section and continued for 48 hours regardless of casualties." The second attack (by the 5th Panzer Army) drove the 7th US Panzer Division out of St. Vith and back over the Salm and opened the road to Houffalize and St. Hubert. The third attack (by the 2nd and 9th SS Panzer Divisions ) was directed against the already reduced front projection of the 82nd Airborne Division and forced the opening of the road from St. Vith - Vielsalm - Laroche. "The fourth attack with the aim of extending this route via Marche to Namur was thwarted, but southwest of Marche the 2nd Panzer Division pushed past Rochefort to the last ridge before the Meuse."

December 22nd
From 21/22 December, the influence of the Russian high pressure area on Central Europe began to expand again and significantly colder and drier air slowly pushed from the east over Germany to the Ardennes. A thin blanket of snow formed and the sky cleared.

“On the first day the Allied 9th Tactical Air Fleet flew 1200 sorties against the German supply units.” In addition, massive reinforcements approached the combat area: “On the southern flank of the breach, two corps of General Patton's 3rd American Army swung north, and on the 22nd, one of them launched a strong attack on the Arlon – Bastogne road. "

US soldiers prisoners of war, December 22, 1944

In the north, Montgomery prevailed against the US troop leadership and "saved the brave defenders of St. Vith [by evacuating them in good time] from annihilation". After a breakthrough by the 2nd SS Panzer Division against the resistance of the US commander, he also insisted on withdrawing the 82nd Airborne Division. "For him it was just a tactical maneuver, for Ridgeway it was mainly a matter of honor and the morale of his troops." The Americans wanted to throw all available units directly against the enemy - "But Montgomery by no means wanted the forces destined to counterattack into the defensive battle have drawn into it. "

After the complete enclosure of Bastogne the previous day, Brigadier General McAuliffe in command of the command refused a surrender request from General v. Lüttwitz disdainfully.

German grenadiers in a fire fight, December 22, 1944

December 23
Patton's relief attack on Bastogne was halted five miles from the containment ring and "driven back by a violent counterattack." As the besieged ammunition supplies dwindled, the battle for Bastogne came to a head. “The Germans carried out their heaviest attack so far, smashed the southeast corner of the cauldron and rose to a commanding height. Some tanks broke into the city streets, but the Americans quickly sealed off. In the morning the breach was closed again. "

December 24th
Also over the Christmas days it was mostly sunny and free of precipitation with cold nights and daytime temperatures around freezing point, so that the ground operations of the Wehrmacht were made more difficult by the air superiority of the Allies that was now again prevalent.

Manteuffels shock to the Meuse, which "reached the area 5 km east of Dinant", was due to a shortage of fuel. "The reconnaissance departments of the 2nd Panzer Division and parts of the following main body were cut off from American units." St. Hubert was taken by forces that had also bypassed Bastogne. "On Christmas Eve, Manteuffel managed to get in direct contact with Hitler's headquarters by telephone in order to explain the facts and make suggestions" - he was held in high regard by Hitler - and proposed to Jodl a new plan based on the situation: he wanted the one on his piano Do not cross the Meuse, but “advance in a circular north to the nearby bank of the Meuse, in order to cut off the Allied forces standing east of the river and to sweep out the bend in the river […] and thus also help the 6th Panzer Army forward.” Manteuffel: “I concluded by emphasizing the following points : I must have an answer tonight; OKW reserves must have enough gasoline; I'll need air support ”. During the night there was another contact, “but Jodl told me that the Führer had not yet made a decision. All he could do at the moment is to put another Panzer division at my disposal. "

In the meantime, Model had also joined in the talks: “The Aachen front edge could still be removed. Model pointed out that the forces required for the attack to the north could be released if the Fuehrer abandoned his plan for the offensive in Alsace, which was set to begin on New Year's Day. Hitler rejected the last proposal. He only agreed to the suggestion that Bastogne should be used first. ”So Manteuffel only had a free hand for the first act.

US patrol with a captured SS soldier, December 25, 1944

December 25th
He deployed the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division on the northwest corner: “The Germans attacked at 3:00 am on Christmas Day,” had made two breaches at daybreak, but were sealed off: “Each of the eighteen breached tanks was incapacitated Assuredly, not a man of the infantry escaped. In the morning the American front was restored. "

At the same time, "the advance guard of the 2nd Panzer Division" had been waiting for a day and a half on the ridge above Dinant, waiting impatiently for fuel and reinforcements for the final jump down the western slope of the Ardennes to the Meuse. The bulk of the division had taken Rochefort and marched further west. But “on its left flank the Panzer Lehr Division […] could not get through St. Hubert with strong forces , and on its right flank the 116th Panzer Division between Marche and Hotton was suddenly brought to a standstill. Of the tank reserves that Hitler v. Manteuffel had promised, one division had been branched off to Butgenbach, another was involved in the battle for Bastogne and the third, which was only approaching Marche, stayed behind due to lack of fuel. "

The German 2nd Panzer Division remained isolated. In the meantime, "the entire American 2nd Panzer Division [under General Joe Collins ] was in overwhelming strength on its right flank (towards)." The Germans had time to entrench themselves and the fight began at noon.

December 26th
The German advance guard at Dinant fought without fuel to "avert their destruction [...] while their division, supported by units of the Panzer Lehr Division and the 9th Panzer Division, tried in vain to break through to relieve the advance guard."

Patton's troops succeeded in “blowing up the ring of enclosure around Bastogne. Only now have two SS divisions and two infantry divisions been released to enclose the city again from the southeast "

There was little movement at the front of the 6th Panzer Army as Montgomery regrouped his subordinate troops to counterattack.

“Bomb carpets fell on every street. The nearer as well as the wider hinterland of the [German] front was under constant [air] attacks, which destroyed all connections of the army groups. Blown up in two, badly hit by artillery fire, constantly attacked by swarms of fighter bombers, the 2nd Panzer Division was as good as wiped out. "

The 'cross-dashed' line: also valid until the end of December (except for the US attack west of Bastogne)

December 27
Manteuffel tried to get permission to withdraw, but “Hitler forbade this step backwards. So instead of breaking away in time, we were driven back step by step under the pressure of the Allied attacks and suffered unnecessarily heavy losses. ”In the evening of the day“ the armed forces that were supposed to take Dinant rolled back into Rochefort ”.

The German reserves gradually reached Bastogne - "with the order [...] to enclose the city again from the southeast, and so Bastogne remained the focal point of the battle until the beginning of January."

"The postponement of the attack in the north [by Montgomery] was noted very badly by Bradley and Patton." They implied that he did not want to use the four British divisions retained in reserve. The Briton, on the other hand, was not interested in continuous attack; he was determined to have a strong armed force on hand for the moment when the German reserves were tied up. […] In addition, Montgomery looked far beyond the Ardennes. The British, unlike the Americans, had no more fresh divisions to expect, and so he was very keen to keep his XXX. Corps for the upcoming battle in the Rhineland .

December 28th
Now v. Rundstedt, as Commander-in-Chief West, "to persuade Hitler to cease all offensive operations and to pull out his armies before the Allies counterattack in full force." During the meeting with the Commander-in-Chief of the offensive in Alsace that was being prepared for January 1, 1945, Hitler declared, Although the attack in the Ardennes "unfortunately did not lead to the sweeping success [...] that could have been expected", he asserted that the enemy had to give up his plans and would no longer talk about an early end of the war, so " a tremendous relaxation has already occurred. ”The success in Alsace would remove the threat against the left flank in the Ardennes, so that the offensive could be resumed there“ with a new chance of success ”. Model had to consolidate his position in the Ardennes, regroup the troops and "direct a new, more powerful attack against the promontory of Bastogne."

Allied planning

On December 27, Bradley proposed that Patton's advance with 3rd Army be stepped up and "with 1st Army immediately launch a major attack on the northern flank of the frontal promontory." On December 28, Eisenhower and Montgomery discussed the proposal. The Briton warned that in the north there were “7, if not 8, armored divisions”, “it would cost the Americans heavy losses, especially the infantry, who are already seriously lacking replacements.” He also expected Another German attack in the north, wanted to first throw it back and then lead the counter-attack. Eisenhower conceded the preference of this consideration, “but it was very important to him not to wait too long. It was therefore decided that the counter-offensive, should the Germans not attack again beforehand, would start on January 3rd. "

Officially, German propaganda spoke of a 'battle of the greatest magnitude' in the Ardennes in the “last days of the year”, but the chroniclers did not record any corresponding events or only position battles near Bastogne during this period.

Offensive in Alsace

The attack in the south of the Rhine front, which Hitler had planned in connection with the Ardennes offensive on the night of New Year's Day 1945, "in order to bring about a halfway clean up in the west", quickly came to a halt in the main thrust against the Zabern depression. East of the Vosges, the attack came to nothing, as the 7th US Army withdrew to the Maginot Line and the push from the Kolmar bridgehead was unsuccessful. The operations of the 3rd US Army (Patton) were not influenced by the North Wind company .

January 1945

The weather situation had worsened again shortly before New Year's Eve 1944 and light snowfalls set in down to the plains. In the further course of the year, massive snowfalls occurred from January 7, followed by severe frost, which made operations on both sides extremely difficult and can be found in the memories of many soldiers. Only at the turn of the month of January / February 1945 did a clear thaw set in again.

Tank soldiers of the First U.S. Army gather on the snow-covered ground near Eupen , Belgium, around a fire and open their Christmas packages (December 30, 1944)

“At the beginning of January, six divisions of Patton's army attacked from the south with the aim of widening the Bastogn Bulge. […] Three fresh infantry divisions were brought in from the OKW reserve, and Dietrich had to send 4 tank divisions [from the north wing] to v. Give Manteuffel. […] The battle that developed from it [January 3rd and 4th] was the most bitter of the whole offensive and the most costly, especially for the new inexperienced American divisions. […] On January 5th the German rush began to subside. All thought of a conquest of Bastognes was given up, for the troops that had been assigned were now urgently needed to fend off the allied counter-offensive which Montgomery had launched two days before on the northern flank of the bulge. "

Allied counter-offensive

The British offensive (reinforced by the British 6th Airborne Division ) was supplemented at the same time from the west by an American attack also aimed at Houffalize, against the wedge-like German front projection. "The Allies made slow progress, because the thick fog made air supply impossible and restricted the possibility of using artillery."

Break in combat during the retreat in January 1945

Both operations “encountered an enemy who had dug themselves well on the wooded heights and whose positions were camouflaged by a thick blanket of snow. […] In five days the Americans who were pressing on Houffalize advanced only five miles. This in itself small profit was reason enough for Model to request permission to withdraw from the West Ardennes. "Seven out of ten of the German tank divisions owned" only one good road [...] which was already under artillery fire. . "

“On January 8, Hitler could no longer deny that most of his remaining tanks threatened to be locked up and authorized Model to abandon the area west of Houffalize. With this delayed and belated decision, Hitler admitted that the Ardennes offensive had failed. "

- Wilmot : Kampf um Europa, 1960, p. 586.

German withdrawal struggles
The German withdrawal was covered by slowly retreating rearguards. “On January 11th the position of the Allies had strengthened” and on January 12th two divisional groups of Patton advanced around Bastogne: “The two groups (united) near Bras. Around 15,000 German elite soldiers - including the majority of the 5th Paratrooper Division - [were included]. The battle for Bastogne was over. […] On January 17th, the day after the First and Third [US] Armies were united at Houffalize […] Bradley took back command of Hodges' First Army [from Montgomery]. "

Skirmish contact during the withdrawal in January 1945

“On January 19, a snowstorm raged in the Ardennes, [...] which brought the American advance on St. Vith to a standstill. […] On January 21st the snowstorm had subsided, [… and] around midnight (January 23rd) St. Vith was again firmly in the hands of Kampfgruppe B [the 7th US Armored Division]. […] The battle for the wedge was over. [...] The fighting shifted further east, to German territory. "

The space gained in the Battle of the Bulge was completely lost again in the course of the Allied counter-offensive by February 1945.


As the weather became increasingly clear at Christmas and the Allies were able to make greater use of their overwhelming superiority in the air, the German Air Force launched the Bodenplatte operation on January 1, 1945 . This was the Air Force's last major air raid; He was supposed to enable the Wehrmacht to continue the Ardennes offensive. Hundreds of German planes attacked several Allied air bases in Belgium in strictest secrecy in order to damage or destroy planes, hangars and runways as much as possible. 465 Allied aircraft were destroyed or damaged in the attack. However, due to counterattacks by Allied aircraft and unexpectedly strong anti-aircraft groups, the Germans themselves lost 277 aircraft, of which 62 were from Allied aircraft and 172 from Allied and German anti-aircraft guns: Due to the high level of secrecy, even the German anti-aircraft personnel did not know and often fired at their own Aircraft on their return ( self-fire ). The company base plate was overall seen a failure, because the Allies could easily compensate their losses, while the German Luftwaffe never recovered from the losses incurred.

War crimes

U.S. soldiers of the 3rd Battalion of the 119th Infantry surrender to Kampfgruppe Peiper in Stoumont , Belgium (December 19, 1944)

On the German side

Memorial of the Wereth massacre

In the early stages of the battle, Waffen SS soldiers committed the war crime known as the Malmedy massacre in Baugnez near Malmedy . 82 American prisoners of war were shot by SS soldiers of SS Panzer Regiment 1 of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler . At least two more such mass shootings are said to have taken place at Honsfeld (19 American prisoners shot) and at Büllingen (50 prisoners shot). The commander of the SS 1st Panzer Regiment was Joachim Peiper . After the end of the war, Peiper and some Waffen SS subordinates were brought to justice and sentenced ( Malmedy trial ).

On December 17, 1944, eleven African-American soldiers on a farm in Wereth (a place with eight houses near Schönberg (Sankt Vith) ) were mistreated and murdered by an SS troop ( Wereth massacre ).

On 18./19. December 1944, members of the "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler" under the leadership of Peiper committed war crimes in Stavelot , 164 Belgian civilians were murdered. In total, the Leibstandarte murdered over 250 civilians in their combat segment, with Sturmbannführer Gustav Knittel responsible for most of the shootings .

On the American side

In a massacre in Chenogne, Belgium (about eight kilometers from Bastogne), American soldiers shot several dozen German prisoners of war from the Wehrmacht on New Year's Day 1945 after they had been ordered not to take prisoners. On January 3, 1945, the mayor of Chenogne found the bodies of 21 German soldiers who had been shot in a row in the village, which had been completely destroyed except for one house. The crime has not been solved. Statements by some of the US soldiers involved indicate that around 60 prisoners were murdered.


The heavy losses in soldiers, tanks, fighter planes and fuel noticeably accelerated the fall of the German Reich. After the collapse of the offensive, the Germans had finally lost their ability to undertake large-scale operations on the western front. However, the Western Allies were only able to attack again at the beginning of February 1945 and only recorded significant gains in land at the end of February, while the Red Army had already advanced as far as the Oder and the Pomeranian Lake District in January 1945 . Dietrich's 6th Panzer Army, which was still capable of fighting after the Ardennes offensive, had not moved Hitler against Guderian's violent protests to the Vistula front, but to the southeast. She received the order to throw back the Red Army in Hungary as part of the Lake Balaton offensive.

With a time lag, the German population also recognized the failure of the offensive, as Joseph Goebbels noted in his diary on December 31, 1944. Contrary to the expectations of many listeners, Hitler did not even mention the offensive in his last New Year's Eve address. In his environment, he expressed gloomy expectations and threats of doom to Nicolaus von Below . Conversations with officers of the Waffen SS who had taken part in the offensive encouraged the Waffen SS General Karl Wolff to seek partial surrender for Italy .

Victim of the Battle of the Bulge
Fallen Missing wounded total
German 17,236 16,000 34,439 67,675
Allies 19,276 21,144 47,139 87,559

Military cemeteries and memorials

Memorial to the memory of the victims on both sides
Common memorial stone at the point where the Battle of the Bulge began (near Hollerath)

The Mardasson Monument was erected in 1950 three kilometers northeast of the center of Bastogne. It commemorates the 76,890 American soldiers who were wounded, killed or missing ('casualties') in the Battle of the Bulge. The street from the center to the monument is called 'Liberation Road'. Almost 8,000 fallen members of the US armed forces rest in the American military cemetery Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial .

The German military cemetery Recogne-Bastogne is located in Recogne, six kilometers north of Bastogne , where 6,807 German war dead lie. Originally there were about 2,700 US soldiers who had fallen in the area, but they were reburied in the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in the summer of 1948.

The German military cemetery in Lommel (Belgium) is the largest German military cemetery in Western Europe with 38,560 fallen soldiers in World War II, it also houses fallen soldiers from other battles such as those near Aachen, in the Hürtgenwald and near Remagen.

Film adaptations


  • Antony Beevor : Ardennes 1944: Hitler's Last Gamble . Viking, London 2015, ISBN 978-0-670-91864-5 . German edition: The Ardennes Offensive 1944. Hitler's last battle in the west. Bertelsmann, Munich 2016. ISBN 978-3-570-10220-6 .
  • Klaus-Jürgen Bremm : In the shadow of disaster. Twelve decisive battles in the history of Europe. BoD, Norderstedt 2003 ISBN 3-8334-0458-2 .
  • Gert Buchheit: Hitler the General , List Taschenbücher 285, Munich 1965.
  • William CC Cavanagh, Rochereth Krinkelt: The Battle for He Twin Villages . Christopher Publ. House 1985, ISBN 0-8158-0435-0 .
  • Hugh M. Cole: European Theater of Operations, Ardennes, Battle of the Bulge (United States Army in World War II) . Dept. of the Army, Washington 1965, ISBN 0-16-001910-9 .
  • Gerd J. Gust Cuppens: What really happened. Malmedy- Baugnez , December 17, 1944. The Peiper combat group in the Ardennes. Grenz-Echo , Eupen 1989, ISBN 90-5433-097-X .
  • dtv documents, publisher: Helmut Heiber: Situation discussions in the Führer Headquarters , Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 1963.
  • dtv dokumente, Ed .: Walther Hubatsch: Hitler's instructions for warfare 1939–1945. Documents of the OKW , Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 1965.
  • Trevor N. Dupuy , Anderson Bongard, Jr .: Hitler's Last Gamble. The Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 - January 1945 . HarperCollins Inc. 1994, ISBN 1-85310-711-5 .
  • Peter Elstob: Hitler's last offensive . List, Munich 1972, ISBN 3-471-77406-8 .
  • Hermann Jung: The Ardennes Offensive 1944/45. An example of Hitler's warfare . Muster-Schmidt, Göttingen 1992, ISBN 3-7881-1413-4 .
  • Kurt Kaeres: The hurray fell silent. Hürtgenwald 1944 . 4th edition, Helios, Aachen 2002, ISBN 3-933608-50-3 .
  • Karl Hans Koizar: Inferno am Westwall , Prisma, Gütersloh 1980, ISBN 3-570-05332-6 .
  • Alexander Kuffner: Time Travel Guide Eifel 1933–1945 . Helios, Aachen 2007, ISBN 978-3-938208-42-7 .
  • Michael Schadewitz: Between the knight's cross and the gallows. Skorzeny's secret company Greif in Hitler's Ardennes Offensive 1944/45 , Helios, Aachen 2007, ISBN 978-3-938208-48-9 .
  • Wingolf Scherer : Liked and forgotten? - Battle of the Bulge, final battles in the west in 1944 . Helios, Aachen 2002, ISBN 3-933608-59-7 .
    • dsb .: The last battle. Eifel Front and Ardennes Offensive 1944 . 3rd edition, Helios, Aachen 2004, ISBN 3-933608-95-3 .
    • dsb .: downfall, battle and destruction of the 277th division in Normandy and in the Eifel . 2nd edition, Helios, Aachen, ISBN 3-938208-18-X .
  • Peter Schrijvers: The Unknown Dead. Civilians in the Battle of the Bulge. UP of Kentucky, Lexington 2005.
  • John Toland : Battle of the Bulge , Gustav Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1959, 3rd edition 1980. ISBN 3-404-00707-7 .
  • Hans J. Wijers: Die Ardennenoffensive Volume 1. Attack of the 6th Panzer Army and American defense in the area of ​​the 99th US Inf. Division, 277th People's Grenadier Division, 12th People's Grenadier Division, 3rd Parachute Division and of the Pz Brigade 150 - eyewitness reports , Helios-Verlag, Aachen 2014, ISBN 978-3-86933-106-5 .
  • Hans J. Wijers: The Ardennes Offensive Volume 2. The Ardennes Offensive - Assault on the Northern Front - Decision in Krinkelt-Rocherath - Eyewitness Reports , Helios-Verlag, Aachen 2014, ISBN 978-3-86933-118-8 .
  • Chester Wilmot : The Struggle for Europe . Gutenberg Book Guild, Zurich 1955 and: German edition: S. Fischer Verlag, 1960.


  • The board game Battle of the Bulge , published in 2006, also revolves around the Battle of the Bulge . It comes from the " Axis & Allies " series by Avalon Hill .
  • The Ardennes Offensive is also discussed in the computer games 1944 , Battlefield 1942 , Call of Duty : United Offensive, Blitzkrieg and Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault . An entire campaign is played through in the game Western Front. Among other things, the "Combat Group Peiper" can be taken over.
  • “Battle of the Bulge” is a slang expression in English-speaking countries for the fight against obesity .

Web links

Commons : Ardennes Offensive  - album with pictures
Wiktionary: Ardennenoffensive  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. Altogether there are two decrees and differentiated continued on July 19 as “Order of the Chief OKW regarding preparations for the defense of the Reich”. Printed in: Ed .: Walther Hubatsch: Hitler's instructions for warfare 1939–1945. Documents from the OKW , Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 1965, pp. 296–305. Obviously delayed by the assassination attempt on July 20, the command conglomerate was only distributed in 100 copies on July 24 as a "secret commando matter".
  2. "Both field marshals wanted an offensive to be limited to driving back the promontory in Aachen and closing the Siegfried Line in this single section where it had been breached. In the worst case, one could throw the allies back from the Roer to the Meuse and take Liège , the main American supply base. ”(Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, p. 552).
  3. For the deployment of the 101st Airborne Division, see pages 289, 307–309, 314–315, 329, 336 of Chap. XIII: VIII Corps Attempts To Delay the Enemy (from: Hugh M. Cole (Ed.): US Army in WW II, European Theater of Operations, The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge). For more references to Bastogne see the index (under "Bastogne").
  4. "Hitler never wanted to go into the arguments of the older generals whom he distrusted, but he faced new men and new ideas very differently. Manteuffel was one of his discoveries. ”In: L. Hart: Deutsche Generale , 1965, p. 268.
  5. "He also wanted to avoid the administrative difficulties when he pushed a British corps into an American army in an already overcrowded section." (Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, p. 582).

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ian Kershaw : The End , London 2011, ISBN 978-0-14-101421-0 , p. 161.
  2. ^ Karl-Heinz Frieser : The German Blitzkriege. Operational triumph - strategic tragedy. In: Rolf-Dieter Müller (ed.): The Wehrmacht. Myth and Reality. Oldenbourg, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-486-56383-1 , pp. 182-196, here p. 193.
  3. ^ John Toland : Battle of the Bulge , Gustav Lübbe Verlag, Bergisch Gladbach 1959, p. 21.
  4. Ed .: Helmut Heiber: Situation discussions in the Führerhauptquartier , Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 1963, pp. 242–271.
  5. Ed .: Walther Hubatsch: Hitler's instructions for warfare 1939–1945. Documents of the OKW , Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 1965, p. 314 ff.
  6. quotes section: Hubatsch: Transfers , 1965, p 314ff, 321 ff, 329 ff...
  7. Chester Wilmot : Der Kampf um Europa , S. Fischer Verlag, 1960, p. 480.
  8. Quotes after footnote, 10 ': John Toland: Ardennenschlacht , 165, p. 21 ff.
  9. ^ Wilmot, Kampf , 1960, pp. 528 and 538.
  10. Toland: Battle of the Bulge , 1965, p. 23 ff.
  11. ^ Quotations from the last two sections: Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, pp. 554 and 538.
  12. ^ Werner Schwerdtfeger: The last two years of ZWG (Part 3) . Weather, Volume 41, No. 6, June 1986, pp. 187-191.
  13. ^ Reanalysis December 16, 1944 . In: .
  14. Gert Buchheit: Hitler der Feldherr , p. 160.
  15. Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, p. 558.
  16. Gert Buchheit: Hitler der Feldherr , p. 161.
  17. ↑ Maximum daily temperature December 18, 1944 . In:
  18. ^ RE Merriam, "one of the American officers charged with writing history", in: Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, p. 564 f .; also the quotations in this and the previous section.
  19. Chester Wilmot: The fight for Europe , Gutenberg Book Guild, Zurich 1955, p. 624f. Also cited there: Eisenhower and Bradley after their works.
  20. Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, p. 563 f.
  21. Wilmot: Der Kampf um Europa , 1955, pp. 631ff, 654.
  22. Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, pp. 567 and 569. Quotations in this and the previous section.
  23. Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, p. 568.
  24. Bucheit: Feldherr , 1965, p. 162.
  25. Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, p. 571.
  26. Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, p. 570. Eisenhower did not allow himself to be unsettled - in retrospect it became clear that he had made an optimal decision in purely factual and military terms. The sharp reactions from both sides, however, represented the internal conflict among the allies that began to develop in the final stages of the invasion. German historians hardly mention this and feel they are not called upon to deal with it; American literature also largely ignores him, here the sense of honor - as back then 'on site' - played a role. One exception is the Australian Chester Wilmot , who has directly participated in the campaign as a BBC reporter since landing and also had access to the two headquarters of the allies. He saw himself - also later as a historian - as an impartial observer: Montgomery's disgruntlement resulted from the fact that the British had carried the brunt of the battle against the German tank divisions in Normandy near Caen; the Americans, however, achieved success after the outbreak that this made possible. The dissatisfaction also relates to the company near Arnhem, Market Garden , where the British saw themselves at a disadvantage in terms of replenishment allocation. This was in the context of Eisenhower's strategy of attacking the entire Rhine front in contrast to Montgomery's concept of a concentrated advance.
  27. Quotations in the chapter: Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, p. 571 ff.
  28. Buchheit: Feldherr , 1965, p. 163.
  29. ^ Liddell Hart: German Generals of the Second World War (Manteuffel) , Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, Munich 1965, p. 283. Original edition: The other side of the hill , Cassell and Comp., London 1949.
  30. Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, p. 575.
  31. Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, pp. 572 and 577 f.
  32. ↑ Duration of sunshine on December 25, 1944: [1]
  33. Buchheit: Feldherr , 1965, p. 163.
  34. Hart: Deutsche Generale , 1965, pp. 283 ff. Liddell Hart had several conversations with Manteuffel.
  35. Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, p. 578.
  36. Quotations in the section: Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, p. 579 ff.
  37. Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, p. 580.
  38. Buchheit: Feldherr , 1965, p. 164.
  39. ^ Raymond Cartier: The Second World War . Second volume, R. Piper Verlag, Munich Zurich 1977 'p. 924. ISBN 3-492-02284-7 .
  40. ^ Manteuffel in conversation with Liddell Hart: Deutsche Generäle , 1965, p. 285.
  41. Buchheit: Feldherr , 1965, p. 164.
  42. Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, p. 582.
  43. ^ After Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, p. 583 f.
  44. Wilmot: Kampf , 1965, p. 582.
  45. Buchheit: Feldherr , 1965, p. 165.
  46. ^ Ed .: H. Heiber: Lagebesferenzungen , 1963, p. 305 (December 28, 1944).
  47. ↑ Snow depth on January 10, 1945: [2]
  48. Wilmot: Kampf , 1965, p. 585.
  49. ^ John Tolland : Battle of the Bulge , Gustav Lübbe Verlag, Bergisch Gladbach 1959, 3rd edition 1980, p. 355.
  50. Wilmot: Kampf , 1960, p. 585 f.
  51. ^ Tolland: Battle of the Bulge , 1980, pp. 373–382.
  52. ^ Tolland: Battle of the Bulge , 1980, pp. 386–395.
  53. ^ John M. Bausermann: The Malmédy Massacre. Shippensburg 1995, p. 94 and a.
  54. A tribute to 11 GI's of the 333rd US Field Artillery Battalion and to all colored soldiers who fought in World War II , the events in detail
  55. ^ Christer Bergstrom: The Ardennes, 1944–1945. Hitler's winter offensive. Casemate, 2014, ISBN 978-1-61200-277-4 , p. 210.
  56. ^ Jens Westemeier: Himmler's warriors. Joachim Peiper and the Waffen-SS in the war and the post-war period. Schöningh, Paderborn 2013, ISBN 978-3-506-77241-1 , p. 348 f.
  57. ^ Martin K. Sorge: The Other Price of Hitler's War: German Military and Civilian Losses Resulting From World War II. Greenwood Press, 1986, p. 147. ISBN 0-313-25293-9 .
  58. Peter Schrijvers: The unknown dead. Civilians in the Battle of the Bulge. University Press of Kentucky, 2005, pp. 303 f. ISBN 0-8131-2352-6 .
  59. cf. Ian Kershaw, p. 388, who speaks of a continuation of the advance in March.
  60. ^ German Historical Museum "Adolf Hitler - New Year's Eve Address - December 31, 1944"
  61. “We can go under. But we will take a world with us ": " National Socialism - Persevere - Why did the Germans follow Hitler's orders to the last? Ian Kershaw's excellent study “The End”. ” In: Die Zeit online . November 10, 2011.
  62. Ian Kershaw, pp. 161 ff.
  63. ^ German war cemetery Recogne-Bastogne (Belgium) at the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge .
  64. Belly fat: The battle of the bulge ,  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , In the Battle of the Bulge, Lifestyle Can't Be Overlooked (USDA - United States Department of Agriculture)@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /