Battle of the Bulge Anniversary & Debacle

This is the 65th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Bulge. While most Americans who are aware of the battle learned of it through Hollywood movies that portrayed valiant U.S. resistance to the German Wehrmacht, the truth is far more embarrassing to the U.S. Supreme Commander.

The battle was completely unnecessary, and resulted from Gen. Eisenhower’s stifling of a U.S. Army group that was ready to cross the Rhine into Germany a month earlier.

As David Colley, author of Decision at Strasbourg: Ike’s Strategic Mistake to Halt the Sixth Army Group at the Rhine in 1944, recently noted:

The Sixth Army Group had assembled bridging equipment, amphibious trucks and assault boats. Seven crossing sites along the upper Rhine were evaluated and intelligence gathered. The Seventh Army could cross north of Strasbourg at Rastatt, Germany, advance north along the Rhine Valley to Karlsruhe, and swing west to come in behind the German First Army, which was blocking Patton’s Third Army in Lorraine. The enemy would face annihilation, and the Third and Seventh Armies could break loose and drive into Germany. The war might end quickly.

Devers never crossed. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander, visited Devers’s headquarters that day and ordered him instead to stay on the Rhine’s west bank and attack enemy positions in northern Alsace. Devers was stunned. “We had a clean breakthrough,” he wrote in his diary. “By driving hard, I feel that we could have accomplished our mission.” Instead the war of attrition continued, giving the Germans a chance to counterattack three weeks later in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge, which cost 80,000 American dead and wounded.

The psychological impact on German forces and German society of U.S. troops racing across the Rhine would have been far greater than the impact caused by the pointless slaughter of German civilians in Allied air raids on German cities.

When I was growing up in Front Royal, Virginia, I met one of the few survivors of the Malmedy massacre (the most notorious incident from the Battle of the Bulge). A decade later, I lived in a group house with a retired CIA agent who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Frostbite, not a massacre, was his most vivid memory of that bitter time…

33 thoughts on “Battle of the Bulge Anniversary & Debacle”

  1. Two years later, the President would give a speech, and would say, "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity." It's a tragedy that humans only realize how stupid war is until after it is too late.

  2. The US and English governments, heavily infested with pathological anti-Semites, had deliberately slowed down the war effort to give Hitler more time to murder Jews. That was the reason behind the replacement as the Supreme Commander of an experienced military man Bernard Montgomery with the lackey Dwight Eisenhower who had never commanded a unit in combat but was "accomodating" to political leaders.
    The criminals gave Hitler the opportunity to regroup and brutally strike at the American troops.
    Anti-Semitism killed 20,000 American GI's at the Bulge.
    Ruslan Tokhchukov.

    1. WHAT kind of parallel universe are you living in? Ike was Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, admittedly not a hands-on tank jockey. Monty was a Brit General under Ike's command (Monty btw. was a somewhat loose cannon and also had blown it big with his operation Market Garden, parachuting into the Netherlands in a high-risk showmanship operation, unfortunately directly onto the 2nd SS Tank Division. Hence FAIL.)

      Also, lol at David Colley and 100% hindsight 60 years after the event. Fast movements through Germany might not have resulted in a fast & happy outcome. The fact that the Battle of the Bulge actually took place shows that there were still forces to be reckoned with on the other side of the Rhine.

      Now, how come everyone remembers Wacht am Rhein (and the truly horrifying cinematic kitsch that came out it) but no-one knows what the Battle for Hürtgen Forest was about? Now _that_ one was a real meatgrinder, worse than the Bulge and rather useless.

    2. Montgomery was not the best of generals. Nor was he EVER noted for his speed. British military historians have roundly criticized him for this. He was notorious for letting the Germans ecape again and again at El Alamein, North Africa, again in Sicily and all throughout the Italian campaign. In any case the great majority of the camps were located in eastern Europe and given the difference in force levels neither the American public or government would have allowed a non-American to be supreme commander.

    3. Once again "russian" immigrant confuses myth with reality. The world knows that US and UK
      governements were heavily infested with communist pro-semitic agents and there were special Senate commissions to investigate all this, with Maccartism and so on. But as usual this hero wants to say the "last" word, so you get splash of refuse from soviet ignoramus.

    4. This is total nonsense….no one in the USSR or the west was concerned about saving Jews or not…Ike was a much better commander than Monty would have been and had to consider a whole range of issues…..If one Army had crossed the Rhine without support available the Germans would have turned the whole force assembling for the Battle of the Bulge on it and given it a very hard pounding….it would have been a giant Market Garden style fiasco

  3. So… It was better to have our trroops die of frostbite in attack mode? How were the supply lines? Eisenhower would have been better briefed on that than Devers. Could food and water and warm socks – much less ammunition and gas – reach American troops making this triumphal foray into Germany? Would you have waited for spring – if you were Supreme Allied Commander? This revisionist crap is a dime a pound.

  4. Ike had to keep in mind the German Army well deserved reputation for counterattack, especially on the exposed flanks of the 7th and 3rd Armies as they wheeled north. It's easy with 20/20 hindsight to take Ike to task, but at the time he made a decision that seemed best under the circumstances. Monty's Army was far closer to the V1 and V2 bases in northern Germany, and he could have swung south into the Ruhr industrial district from the northern flatlands. There are legit arguments that he made the correct decision. Except, of course, Monty was a mediocre general, at best.

  5. Patton always held it against Ike for NEVER having earned a 'combat medal' – Ike had always served as a staff officer and NOT in command of combat troops. The accusation by Patton in 1943-1944 was – "what is Ike doing, running for president?" Throughout the war – Patton was restrained by Ike – Montgomery, who was NOT a good general, was favored. Many – obviously Patton – felt that Patton's army could have been unleashed to make an end run around the Germans during this battle, which would have trapped the Germany army. Instead, Ike ordered a frontal attack which greatly increased casualties. Much blame can be given to Churchill and the British for WWII – Buchanan's book: "Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War" – is a must read!

    1. Absolutely. A splendid book. May I please recommend two others: BRUTE FORCE and also 1943: THE VICTORY THAT NEVER WAS.

      By the way, I personally don't think Patton deserves his high status. His generalship was overrated. As to morals he used his forces aginst the bonus army and struck a traumatized soldier in the hospital.

  6. Patton was a weak prima donna hothead obsessed with his own glory and subsequent place in history, no matter what the risk and how many of his own troops died. He was quite rightly reined in. To let him loose would have been a disaster. There were no "great" generals in WW2. Show me a "great" general, and I'll show you a myth.

  7. Montgomery wasn't a great general either. He was conservative, cared about his troops (and unlike Patton, they liked him) and usually depended (like most allied generals) on overwhelming force rather than tactical or even strategic skill. Market Garden was the exception. He took a calculated risk, endorsed by his superiors. If it had succeeded, it would have shortened the war on the Western front considerably. With the knowledge he had at the time, it was the right decision. It failed due to the fog of war, but had it succeeded, he would now be seen as a "great general".

    1. I wouldn't be so quick with the generalizations about generals and their men. My Dad didn't talk much about his experiences in Montgomery's army but he did tell me about his part in the the asshole's newsreels. The grunts were lined up in sweltering heat for hours on the side of an Italian field waiting for his eminence to appear. He showed up in a Jeep a few hundred yards away with the cameras in place. In my Dad's words, the junior officers yelled "All right you bastards, start running as if you like it."
      And run they did to this twit who threw them some cigarette packs for the newsreel, then rode away.

      1. Newsreels were a propaganda tool for the folks back home. They were always arranged thus.

        I think "Twit" would sum up any rank and file soldier's opinion of senior brass during WW2. But if you look at Commonwealth forces' moral in North Africa before and after Montgomery appeared, you'd see a marked improvement.

        A lot of this was due to the coincidental massive increase in supplies and materiel, a lot of it supplied by the US. But Montgomery made a habit of visiting front line troops, something almost unheard of earlier. The mobile command vehicle he used was captured by the Afrika Korps and subsequently adopted by Rommel.

      2. How about the outrageous Wellington House propaganda in the Great War. The Kaiser devouring the world, German soldiers disembowelling pregnant women. No image was too crazy, nothing was too bizarre. It was largely bought at the time though by the American sheeple..

  8. And finally, I know you're not going to like to hear this, but the USSR won the war, and they would have won the war easily without any help from us. By the time of Operation Overlord, they had already broken the back of the German army and had it in full retreat (and had done for almost an entire year). As an example, as large as D Day was, it doesn't even get in to the top ten largest battles in WW2. They were all on the Eastern front. The mythology of war will not permit most of us Westerners to believe that, but it's entirely true.

    1. In my view the key MISTAKE was the pledge to Poland (which the U.K. couldn't POSSIBLY honor). Without it ww2 would simply have been a Russo-German war. Hitler would probably have invaded Russia a year earlier. The western democracies could have bided their time watching events from the sidelines. Had Britain not made the fateful pledge, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa and all the rest of her and France's empires would have stayed out too. Without France & the Netherlands being overun and Britain alone aginst Germany it is almost certain Japan wouldn't have risked the Pacific war to gain their Asian empires. Without France overrun and Britain alone Mussolini would never have declared war. There would have been no fighting in North Africa, Malta, Crete, the Balkans, either. The World war, would have simply been an eastern European war fought between two vile totalitarian states that were both dangerous to democracy.

  9. In college, I had a class in English Lit taught by a man who had been a staff officer for Patton during WWII. His freely given opinion was that Patton was a fraud and a total jerk. And this was after 15 years passage to kind of take the edge off, so to speak.

    1. Patton was an egomaniac who at times had no grasp on reality. At the end of the war he bombastically stated that his 200,000 man army could take on the entire Soviet Russian army and drive it back to Moscow and end communism. There were 5 million Soviet soldiers in Europe at the time; they were very battle hardened and very capable; they had just kicked the crap out of the German army. This goes to show you how out of touch with reality this man was at times.

      If it had not been for that Soviet Russian army, the Germans would have kicked the crap out of Patton's army. They would have made a complete fool and ass out of him. The Germans were not only much tougher than the American and British armies; their equipment was technically superior.

      In other words, without the Soviet army, America and Britain would have lost the war. I know it is hard for most Americans to believe that, but any objective military historian would tell you that.

      1. I hate for anyone to die. So having said that what I'm about to mention is only in light of history and not meant to minimize the loss of so many. I have for the longest time heard about America's "sacrifice" and I'm constantly puzzled by what people mean by that. If they mean signing up or allowing themselves to be herded like cattle to then pick up a weapon and kill someone on the other side of the planet they've never met nor have no personal quarrel then I'm doubly puzzled. Simply running the "numbers" you can look at the battle of Stalingrad and American casualties pale into insignificance when compared to the brutal horrors of only that one engagement. Unimaginable and yet when you count the surrendered POW's and how many perished afterwards even that number is incredible. Patton clearly was full of himself, and full of other things to think he could do anything to the Russians.

      2. Most Americans are unaware of the scale of brutality by the Soviets and Nazis toward their own troops. 15,000 Red Army soldiers were executed at Stalingrad alone for desertion, cowardice etc. Thousands there were sent into combat unarmed with the expectation only of grabbing a rifle dropped by a fallen comrade. The Communists executed a remarkable 500,000 of their own men during the war. The Nazis executed about 250,000 of theirs. They were executing deserters in Berlin at one end of a block as the Red army was approaching from the other end. And the Americans? One was executed for desertion! Patton was demonized in the press and reprimanded for slapping a soldier who was hospitalized for PTSD. The Nazis and Soviets must have been aghast at American humanitarian sentimentality.

  10. American "glory" in Europe always seemed to come, as in both WW1 and WW2, after the enemy had spent years on the line and were exhausted. Just as then our legions of today have never met a modern and fresh "enemy" its equal on the field. When that day comes a world of hurt and a long over due eye opening will happen. Hope the US is ready for it. I figure it isn't.

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