A Slice of History: The Battle of the Bulge – December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945

The Battle of the Bulge was a major German offensive campaign launched through the densely forested Ardennes region of Wallonia in Belgium, France, and Luxembourg on the Western Front toward the end of World War II in Europe.

On December 16, 1944 three German army divisions of more than 250,000 troops launched the deadliest and most desperate battle of the Second World War in the rugged and freezing Luxembourgish, Ardennes in the West. American units were caught unprepared and fought desperate battles to stem the German advances.

The Battle of the Bulge was the largest fought on the Western front. It was so called because the Germans created a “bulge” around the area of the Ardennes forest in pushing through the American defensive line.

The Germans threw 250,000 soldiers into the initial assault, 14 German infantry divisions guarded by five panzer divisions-against a mere 80,000 American troops. Their assault came in early morning, at the weakest part of the Allied line, a poorly protected 80-mile stretch of hilly, woody forest. The Allies simply believed the Ardennes were too difficult to traverse, and therefore an unlikely location for a German offensive. Between the vulnerability of the thin, isolated American units and the thick fog that prevented the Allied air cover from discovering German movement, the Germans were able to push the Americans into retreat.

One particularly effective German trick was the use of English-speaking German commandos who infiltrated American lines and, using captured U.S. uniforms, trucks, and jeeps, impersonated U.S. military and sabotaged communications. The ploy caused widespread chaos and suspicion among the American troops as to the identity of fellow soldiers–even after the ruse was discovered. Even General Omar Bradley himself had to prove his identity three times–by answering questions about football and Betty Grable–before being allowed to pass a sentry point.

The battle raged for three weeks, resulting in a massive loss of American and civilian life. Nazi atrocities abounded, including the murder of 72 American soldiers by SS soldiers in the Ardennes town of Malmedy.

Historian Stephen Ambrose estimated that by war’s end, “Of the 600,000 GIs involved, almost 20,000 were killed, another 20,000 were captured, and 40,000 were wounded.”

The United States also suffered its second-largest surrender of troops of the war: More than 7,500 members of the 106th Infantry Division capitulated at one time at Schnee Eifel. The devastating ferocity of the conflict also made desertion an issue for the American troops; General Eisenhower was forced to make an example of Private Eddie Slovik, the first American executed for desertion since the Civil War.

At the end, we proudly need to state that a crucial German shortage of fuel and the gallantry of American troops fighting in the frozen forests of the Ardennes thwarted Hitler’s ambitions. Lieutenant General George S. Patton’s remarkable feat of turning, ninety degrees, the Third Army from Lorraine to relieve the besieged town of Bastogne was the key to thwarting the German counteroffensive.

The Battle of the Bulge was the costliest military action ever fought by the U.S. Army, which suffered over 100,000 casualties.

On January 12, 1945, the Nazis began their retreat and the battle ended on January 25, 1945.

End of WWII

The German forces surrendered in Italy on April 29 1945, in Western Europe on May 7, 1945; on the Eastern Front, Germany surrendered to the Soviets on May 8, 1945 while a German Army Group Centre resisted in Prague until May 11, 1945.

On July 11, 1945, the Allied leaders met in Potsdam, Germany. They confirmed earlier agreements about Germany unconditional surrender.

On August 15, 1945 Japan surrendered, with the surrender documents finally signed aboard the deck of the American battleship USS Missouri on September 2, 1945, ending the war.

President Truman officially declared an end to hostilities by Presidential Proclamation on December 31, 1946 (Proc. no. 2714, 61 Stat. 1048)

Peace was restored, Europe was built and Germany thrives again.

And nowadays Europe finds itself in 'multiculturalism" quagmire and the future is dim.