American soldiers in defense position during the Ardennenoffensive
(English: The Battle OF the Bulge)
conflict the Second World War
date 16. December 1944 - 15. January 1945
place Ardennen, Belgium, Luxembourg
result victory of the Americans
of commanders
Dwight D. Eisenhower Gerdfrom Rundstedt
733 tanks of 68,000 losses (17,236 dead ones, 16,000 prisoners/missed, 34,439 wounded)
700 tanks general map the Ardennenoffensive (also Rundstedt - offensive) found Truppenstärken 80,000 soldiers, 400 tanks, 400 cannons 200,000 soldiers, 600 tanks, 1,900 cannons of losses of 78,000 losses (8,607
dead ones

, 21,144 prisoners/ missed, 47,139 wounded) toward endthe Second World War in the east and northeast of Belgium as well as in parts of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg instead of. The areas were concerned around the cities Bastogne, pc. Vith, Roche away, La Roche, Houffalize, Stavelot, Clerf, Diekirch, Vianden and the southern East cantons. It was the last offensive of the German armed forces. The German troops tried in vain to seize at the west front again the initiative. The enterprise „is awake on the Rhine “began to 16. December 1944.

Table of contents

the military situation in the summer and autumn 1944

the armed forces, onceas unbesiegbar valid, withdrew itself under inconceivable efforts and increasing lack of material and personal to the earlier realm borders. In the north the German federations had, after Finland to 4. September 1944 with the Soviet Union armistice had closed, on north Norway to be taken back. This was also more sensitiveImpact for the operational co-operation of the front in the northeast, then lay nevertheless the land front most important for the German Reich for military reasons in the east. Here the armed forces were since the disaster of Kursk in July 1943 in the strategic defensive. On a front of2500 km had taught Soviet offensive ones to the armed forces the heaviest defeats of the war. In June the army group center had broken down, in July the army group Nordukraine had been smashed and the army group Südukraine nearly destroyed shortly thereafter.

The army group north, itself at the beginning of of Septembers still in Estonia and the western Latvia festkrallte and thus a narrow connection to the army group center to hold could, after the breakthrough of Soviet federations up to the Baltic Sea in October with 27 divisions was cut off. In the south part of the east front was located to the Red Army after the crossing of Romania and Bulgariato the opponent the gate to the Balkans openly. Soviet tanks reached at the beginning of of Septembers the iron gate and the Romanian-Yugoslav border, advanced in the middle of Septembers into the Hungarian lowlandses and stood in the late year before Budapest. Counter attacks of the armed forces were able it, toward at the end of November the east front upto stabilize a length of 1200 km between Baltic Sea and Karpaten laboriously. From July to November 1944 the east army had lost approximately 1.2 million soldier. In November 131 German divisions, of it in cure country and 17 in Hungary bound, stood for 32 about 225 infantry divisions and approx.50 tank major units opposite Soviets. Personnel and materially the German troops were burned out. The expected winter offensive from the depth of the Russian quilts had the collapse of the east front to bring. In the southeast successes brought the German occupation troop to the Red Army in Greece, Albania and Yugoslaviainto substantial danger to be cut off.

At the beginning of of October ordered retreat of the army group E ran first regulated, but became it ever more with difficulty, after production of the connection with the army group south until November the front between Adria - Drau and to the disk lake to hold. The ItalianTheater of war at the south front had lost after the invasion of the allied ones in normandy substantially at meaning. The army group C (general field marshal Kesselring) could hold at the end of November with 23 divisions of different quality the line La Spezia - Rimini across for the Apennin. Fell neverthelessthe connection of these forces by the allied ones and by a lively partisan activity in the whole quite important. At the west front the success of the allied invasion had finally turned out in north France by the German defeats with Avranches and Falaise. In extremely involving heavy losses fights pulleditself the army group B (general field marshal Model) over the Seine eastward back.

After the landing of American and French troops in Marseille to 15. August had also in south southwest France the remained both German armies at the Atlantic (Bordeaux) and at the Mediterranean to be taken back. At the beginning ofSeptember came the retreat of the west army on a line to a halt, which led from the Scheldemündung by south Holland to the west barrier south Trier, followed from there the Mosel and reached then the border of Switzerland. All German federations heavily fastened, personnel thinned out, hardly still were inPossession of heavy weapons. Chronic lack of fuel led to a sensitive loss at mobility, which in relation to the allied air superiority particularly devastatingly affected itself. Fever detention was again developed the west barrier and also fast zusammengerafften units was occupied. Septembers stood for in the middle of at the army group B (Scheldemündung to Trier) on round400 km extent of frontage 21 Infranteriedivisionen and seven armored divisions in relation to far superior allied forces. Altogether the armed forces at all fronts to late autumn had been back-pushed 1944 on the former realm area. The opponent appeared with increasing tendency personnel and materially far superior and used clearly thatPossession of the operational initiative. Of a change of these conditions was not to be thought from German view. On the contrary: The naval warfare, which could be only led on German side as submarine war against the hostile handels and cargo boat travel, was lost since 1943. Since beginning of this yearlythe increase in tonnage exceeded the losses with the allied ones. Likewise the air war was 1944 long decided. For the German Reich it stood for the quantitative inferiority of the German types of aircraft and the increasing lack of fuel in view of the enormous numerical superiority of the enemy, in the indication of a desperate andhopeless defensive. At the front as over the realm area the absolute air rule had been given to the allied one. The building of the only type of fighter, which could have caused at least a gradual idiom, the ME 262, became only in June 1944 released (after Hitler over a long timepersonally, the new airplane had arranged not as a hunter, but to produce and begin when „high-speed bombers “), at a time, when the decision was fallen against Germany long.

the political situation

in view of the threatening military collapse was located the situation relating to domestic affairs in the indication of the total war. It concerned nothing less than around the mobilization of the last personnel, material and moral forces. Goebbels, appointed the realm authorized person for the total war employment, used by it efficiently controlled the instrument of propaganda, around with a mixture from threats and promises, liesto strengthen and half truths the staying power of the Germans. Radical measures and interference into the public, economic and private life should activate the last power reserves. The brutal terror of Himmlers pervasive police and suppression apparatus met the indignant ones and disbelieving ones. With regard to foreign policy the realm in the autumn had itself1944 completely isolate. Italy had capitulated in September 1943. In the summer and early autumn 1944 jumped off former allied Romania, Bulgaria and Finland. With the only formally allied one, common operational did not even connect Japan, which stood in heavy fights against the allied ones in the Pacific,Arrangements. A turn of the war was not to be expected from this side. Nobody could be so presumptuous to reject given under the circumstances a political solution for the completion of the war completely. But the chances for the German Reich stood badly. The Western powers had themselves since thatConference fixed by Casablanca in January 1943 unverrückbar on the demand of an unconditional surrender, which was ready Hitler however not to assume. There were reasons for this attitude of the Western powers enough. Gräueltaten of the LV regime were well-known and Roosevelt and Churchill rejected it, with the criminalTo negotiate Hitler. Also the crusade character of the war opposed a negotiation peace according to kind of a punitive expedition. Finally one wanted not to be able to be cut by premature arrangements with the realm the complete freedom of action after end of war. In view of this fact was a separate peace with the west not tooexpect. Stalin did not seem against it to a peace treaty completely averse. Detunings between it and the Western powers were enormously, in particular regarding the repeated delay with the opening of the second front, which one had assured since 1943. There were indeed at least two careful contactsbetween German and Soviet mediators (in Sweden 1943 and by switching of Japan 1944), Hitler let whom elapse however unused. Altogether it seems after today's knowledge very improbably that the Soviet Union would have agreed seriously a separate peace. A victory over Germany was with all its consequences ina goal which can be enticed. In this hopeless situation some high German LV functionaries believed in the fact on the other side that the western allied ones with the Soviet Union break and would recognize that they smashed „the common bolschiwistischen enemy with the help offul the ul German army in the west “in the eastcould. The clearance for a political solution of the conflict, the possibility for an active foreign policy of the realm, was not only small thereby, it was rather directly zero.

the resolution to the offensive

in this situation stepped with Hitler the loss of the ability, into think realistic political categories, particularly clearly to light. Complete coming up in will formation in the governments of its western opponents, democratic by nothing justified wishful thinking, large unawareness of connections with regard to foreign policy and the rules, let arrive it at a fatally wrong estimate of the situation with regard to foreign policy. After its view those stoodCoalition of its western opponents, in particular those of the USA on the one hand and Great Britain on the other hand with Canada, Australia and New Zealand, briefly before the collapse. By a whole number of indicators with regard to foreign policy wrongly evaluated and for one of illusions intending overall evaluation joined, he to the conclusion, it came requiredonly one over the westallied of breaking sensitive impact, which would cause the collapse of the anti-Hitler coalition. The Anglo Americans would withdraw themselves into their homelands and the German Reich able would be successfully to terminate the defense fight in the east against the threatening Bolschewisierung Europe.Such a vibration of the political balance of the Western powers could exist after Hitler's view only in an outstanding military success, in a surprising, zerschmetternden large offensive at the west front. The last reserves of the armed forces and the people were to be mobilized for this, everything had on a map set,the possible fall of the realm in purchase to be taken. The philosophy of the Ardennenoffensive was born thereby in the consciousness of Hitler. All available documents point out that it was alone it, which came on the thought to dare in it own the nihilistic attitude the Vabanquespieland the attempt to undertake, with last and inconsiderate employment a turn lengthen lost war to cause. Not a military final victory was calm in the eye. Rather the basis for the acceptance of one should with the shock of a successful German offensive in the western publicpolitical completion of the war to be created.

However there were also - at least from Hitler's view - rational reasons to dare a last attempt in the west. In the east it had already given no crucial victory to 1941 despite much more favorable conditions. In the west the distances were shorterand traffic conditions more favorably. In addition Hitler estimated the combat morale of the western allied ones smaller than those of the Russians. If at all, there was a chance only here.

Nothing to undertake, equaled for Hitler of a surrender.

the planning of the offensive

its idea, thosewith it already irrefutable resolution had become, divided Hitler to 19. August 1944 the boss of the armed forces operations staff, colonel general Jodl, also. Without dealing more in greater detail with area and a goal of the offensive, it instructed Jodl to adjust itself to the use of approximately 25 divisions in November. Soonwhereupon, compelled by the OKW, the first organizational measures under largest secrecy ran on. To 16. September verkündetete Hitler in the small circle of the OKH its leader resolution, with approximately 30 new people infantry and armored divisions from the Ardennen a deep operational impact with the goalTo lead Antwerp. Hitler was well-known the relatively thin occupation of the Ardennen area by American troops. It wanted to use one bad weather period, in order to adjust with it the hostile air superiority. With the choice of the attack emphasis between Monschau and genuine after the memory of grandiosen successes of the Sichelschnittplans obviously playedin May 1940 a not insignificant role.

the execution of the offensive

the attack time was selected during a winter bad weather phase, in order to be able to accomplish the offensive as unbedrängt as possible by the pervasive supremacy of allied air forces. The operation was planned under largest secrecy, sothat partly even higher officers of the own troops knew originally nothing from the exact plans of attack.

Similarly as already 1940 German armored troops should clear the way by the hard-to-travel area of the Ardennen and back-throw the allied ones. One of the main attack goals was the port Antwerp, thosefor the allied ones for its supply of great importance was. First a raid up to the Maas should succeed, in order to reach from there out over Lüttich the Albert channel following Antwerp. The operational intention consisted of it, a wedge at the same time between the British and American troops inTo float area Aachen and Maastricht, in order to then destroy these. The Ardennen as a goal of a comprehensive Gegenoffensive was actually well selected. Some the American units in this area were reduced, there in their combat effectiveness the Ardennengebiet of the Americans as „preparation area “for new, inexperiencedUnits and as „recreation region “for weakened troop units, which needed one „Ruhepause “after the battle around Hürtgen (all soul battle), one used.

Altogether only more than 4 U.S stood at this front section. - Divisions. From the American side the offensive ability of the Germans became at this time generally onlystill as small estimated and with an offensive in the Ardennen to few one counted. Besides the allied ones were busy after the failed operation Market guards in September 1944 with their own offensive preparations north and south the Ardennen. The military intelligence service of the allied ones could outthe quite existing single components, those on a planned, large operation of the Germans did not point (reports radiograms etc. heard by troop transfers, individual statements of prisoners of war of higher ranks,) the appropriate „overall view “derive and were not in the situation to pull the correct conclusions from it. In addition it came thatthe most important instructions on German since not, as before, by radio, but by Kradmelder were transferred. The Englishmen were already for a long time able, who German radio traffic to decode (Alan Turing in the Bletchley park).

For the support of the offensive two further small businesses were accomplished: Enterprises seize was the pseudonym for a command of German soldiers under the instruction of Otto Skorzeny. The perfectly English speaking soldiers camouflaged themselves with uniforms of US American army and carried the identity discs more fallen or caught Americans. The soldiers became in three infantry, fourTank, two supply and three tank hunter regiments in summary, which with tanks and weapons from allied booty existence should be equipped. But at the equipment with heavy weapons it lacked substantially. From the 25 the troop received straight times two to promised shearing one tanks. The task of the soldiers of the„Grab commands “was main to donate confusion behind the hostile lines but should it also several bridges over the Maas between Namur and Lüttich occupy.

The enterprise Stösser was an air landing action, to their extent in the night of 16. on the 17. December of 1,300 paratroopers underthe guidance Friedrich August the Heydte 11 kilometer north of Malmedy to jump off and an important supply route of the Americans to block should. Due to a strong snowstorm reached however only approx. a fifth of the troop the landing zone, the remaining paratroopers landed over the entire area thatArdennen distributes.

The successful surprise coup could be umgemünzt first by the German army into considerable initial successes. The American front positions were understood in dissolution, an unordered retrograde movement through partial renouncement of weapons and material used. However the American supreme command under general recognized Dwight D. Eisenhowerthe threatening danger and the strategic meaning of the situation immediately and acted immediately. Authority for individual troop units was shifted, the British general Berne pool of broadcasting corporations Montgomery received the command over all American troop units north the German raid, the American general Omar Bradley that one over the troop units southof it. Immediately a part of the strategic reserve, the 82 became simultaneous. and the 101. US airborne division mobilized and even still in England the replacement camps were shifted into increased alert stand-by. Further Eisenhower arranged that general George S. Patton with its 3. Army, those in the south forwardsfor the Saarland stood, a shift to the left northward make should, in order to attack the advancing German troops at its southern flank. Against the point of the German aggressors eiligst the 101. US airborne division under general Anthony McAuliffe thrown, those in Bastogne, an important traffic junction in the BelgianArdennen, their defensive position took. Encircling the city Bastogne succeeded to the German attack forces in further consequence. The German attack point approached up to 9 km of the Maas with Dinant. However could do the 101. US airborne division the city against the locally existing German supremacy hold (durationencircling by 21. December 1944 up to 13. January 1945) and the city remained a thorn in the eye of the German attack efforts. Of the south the attacking 3. Army of general Patton succeeded it then, supported by regaining the American air rule in consequence to thatWeather improvement to release the city and the exhausted troops of the 101. To frighten US-Luftlandedivison. In the meantime again the material superiority of the Americans come to carrying let break down finally the German attack.

After Christmas the weather cleared up again increasingly and the allied ones could their sovereignty in the airuse again increased. At the 1. January 1945 was therefore accomplished the enterprise base plate. This was the last large air raid of Luftwaffe, by which the continuation of the Ardennenoffensive should be made possible for the armed forces. Under strictest secrecy hundred German airplanes seized several allied air bases inBelgium on to be destroyed or damaged in order as many allied airplanes, hangars and runways as possible. 465 allied airplanes were destroyed or damaged with the attack. By counter attacks of allies of airplanes and unexpectedly strong Flak - groupings lost the German however likewise 277 airplanes (62 by alliedAirplanes, 172 by allied and German Flak). Due to the high security classification even the German Flak personnel knew not and opened the fire on the own airplanes with their return. The enterprise base plate was altogether seen a miss, there the allied ones due to its strong war potential theirLosses easily to adjust could, while the Air Force did not recover from the suffered losses no more.

The Ardennenoffensive ended officially to 21. January 1945, although some localities in the east cantons were only released in February 1945.

Altogether something was over one million soldiers at the battletaken part, which made it the largest land battle of the Second World War with American participation. It is called of the Americans „Battle OF the Bulge “(from English. bulge: Projection, dent, after the projection of the course of the front direction the west). The loss at life, tanks, combat aircraft andFuel accelerated the fall of the German Reich noticeably, the operation ability on a large scale was no longer given for the German army at the west front after the collapse of the offensive.

One shifted the armored units, which had still sufficient combat capability after this offensive, again to the east front,in order to try there to frighten Budapest from the Russian FE storage to.

Already in the initial phase of the battle the war crime of Baugnez occurred with Malmedy, where approx. 80 to 90 American prisoners of war by German soldiers was shot. There were at least two further such mass shootingstill with hone field (19 American prisoners shot) and with Büllingen (50 shot). Connected with these war crimes the name of the leader of a combat team of the 1 is inseparable. SS-armored division body banner Adolf Hitler, SS-Obersturmbannführer yokes Peiper. After end of war a number of participant weapon SS became - member before courtplaced (Malmedy process).

Pleased missed wounded ones entirely
German 17.236 16.000 34.439 67,765
Americans 8.607 21.144 47.139 76,890
victims of the Ardennenoffensive

war happenings in Wiltz

the battle around Wiltz was the probably most important in Luxembourg during the entire Ardennenoffensive.

The situation was to29. Decembers very threatened as the Americans Nothum on the height reached. From this day on up to 21. January was appropriate for Wiltz almost in first front line. The Americans tried to immediately penetrate directly with the first attack into the city. Darher already set it to 28. Decemberfrom the evenly established artillery positions a heavy bombardment. „The houses were shaken into the cellar “, then it meant. The first American attack was reduced.

Of the 1. - 5. The Americans all available forces used January, in order to break through after Wiltz. They actually reached fewPoints on the height, of where they had a marvelous prospect in the valley. The Wiltzer inhabitant noticed that the Americans were in next proximity. Individual vehicles in the roads were met, until the Americans from these advanced positions were displaced again by the Germans.

Inthese days raged a terrible fight between German and American hunters. The German artillery fired with all means against the American hunters from different villages. In this moment heavy German tanks rolled. They were disoriented and believed, they were already encircled by the Americans.They were convinced that the American pressure was too strong and that Wiltz will soon fall.

Also the crew in Wiltz made itself ready around New Year to supply the final fight for the city. By the roads heavily armed reconnaissance patrols with Panzerfäusten crept, in order to shoot broken through tanks.Always new reinforcement arrived. On the city a continuous bombardment lay. To 5. January was obtained the American break-through on the height nearly. But in the last moment nevertheless still reinforcement came for the Germans and the front withstood again.

The nights of 6.and 7. January were probably for Wiltz the worst in the offensive. A new offensive of the Americans followed the bombardment. By a close ravine the Americans wanted to cut through this time the Wiltztal. Again their attack failed. The German losses were very high.

The Americans were itselfnever in the clear over the strength of the German crew in Wiltz, which amounted to at the most 300 men. Twice they were on that points to break through from Rullingen but they withdrew each mark again, because they believed, the city were fastened strong and the crewconsider.

To 8. They gave their heavy, direct attacks up against Wiltz to January. They used their striking power now against Berlé, which threatened its attack on Wiltz still. One day later Berlé fell, and the entire front elbow southeast of phloem after broke in the followingDays together. Now the German crew expected daily the final storm on the city, since the circumstances for an American attack were many more favorable than before.

To 13. January, early in the morning, seemed to also really break loose the final fight. Under terrible bombardment and trembled Wiltz trembled. In a rushthe last measures were met to the house fight, which the city should up to the last brick is defended. The population should be evacuated, refused however closed following the instruction. From the evacuation thus provisionally nothing became. It was soon also not more necessarily, there thatopposing pressure soon perceptibly diminished.

On Fridays, to 19. January, was once again tried to evacuate the civilian population. The Germans it was clear that Wiltz could be no longer for a long time held. From whose brook, which the Americans a few day conquered before, the danger approached. Thosemost important task was to escape on the only, still open road after Wilwerwiltz. Thus was lent to the evacuation instruction no reproduction and the population remained.

Wiltz should experience however still for the last time hell, at the night of 19. on the 20. January. The Trommelfeuerthe American came now from all sides. Everywhere the attack used, all troops had as a goal the city Wiltz.

To 20. The last Germans disappeared to January unnoticed from the city. The Americans engaged combat lot into the city, first only in small reconnaissance patrols, thenbut in pushed rows.

The city in highest emergency lived five long weeks. Bombs and shells put some houses in rubble. Which remained spared, the soldiers robbed. 32 humans had left in the 5 weeks their life and became to 23. January 1945 thatEarth hand over.

The case of Wiltz entailed the collapse of the entire Öslingfront. In the days of 20. - 23. January was cleaned the whole Wiltzer canton by all Germans. The bulk of the German troops had withdrawn itself over the Clerf and the Wiltz.

Work on []



  • John Toland: Ardennenschlacht 1944.Eduard emperor Verlag, 1960. (out of print)
  • Hugh M. Cole: The Ardennes: Battle OF the Bulge. Office OF the Chief OF Military History, Dep. OF the Army, Washington, 1965. (out of print)
  • Peter Elstob: Hitler's last offensive. Cunning publishing house, 1972, ISBN 3471774068
  • Hermann young: The Ardennen offensive 1944/45. An example of thoseWarfare of Hitler. 1992. (out of print)
  • Gerd J. Gust Cuppens: Which really happened (Baugnez). Malmedy, 17. December 1944. The combat team Peiper in the Ardennen. Border echo publishing house, Eupen, 1989, 160 S., ISBN 905433097X (out of print)
  • Hugh M. Cole: The Ardennes. Battle OF the Bulge (United States Army in World was II.The European theatre OF operation) Washington 1965
  • William C.C. Cavanagh: The Battle OF the twin Villages. 1986
  • vienna gulf Scherer: Please and forget? Ardennenoffensive, final fights in the west 1944/45, Aachen 2003, Helios publishing house, Aachen, ISBN 3-933608-59-7, EUR 28.50
  • vienna gulf Scherer: The last battle - Eifel front and Ardennenoffensive1944/45, Aachen 2006 (3. Edition), Helios publishing house, Aachen, ISBN 3-933608-95-3, EUR 24.90
  • vienna gulf Scherer: Fall - fight and destruction of the 277.Division in normandy and in the Eifel, Aachen 2006, 2. Edition, Helios publishing house, Aachen, ISBN 3-938820-818-x, EUR 24.80

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