The Battle of the Bulge Remembered

An American soldier holds German prisoners at gunpoint

An American soldier holds German prisoners at gunpoint in the snow in the Ardennes region of Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944. hide caption

itoggle caption
Captured GIs are marched through a Belgian village, Dec. 17, 1944.

Captured GIs are marched through the village of Lanzareth, Belgium, on Dec. 17, 1944. National Archives hide caption

itoggle caption National Archives

Sixty years ago this holiday season, the German army tried to push the Allies back one last time, as World War II neared its end in Europe. Earlier in 1944, the Allied army fought its way ashore at Normandy.

But in December, German leader Adolf Hitler surprised the Allies with an offensive across Belgium and Luxembourg. By Christmas Eve, German forces had pushed the American defense line back 60 miles and trapped the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne.

Captured by the Germans

After repulsing three German assaults in a fierce daylong battle, one American platoon ran out of ammunition and was captured. Their story is told in the new book The Longest Winter.

This punch was the "bulge" of the Battle of the Bulge. Hitler's plan was to reach the Meuse River, move north and capture the port at Antwerp, then offer terms for an armistice. The Germans never reached the Meuse.

Former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite was with Gen. George Patton's 3rd Army that Christmas and covered the American counter-offensive for the wire service then known as United Press. Cronkite reflects on what remains the largest pitched battle in the history of American arms.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.