Ancient history

Battle of the Bulge

The Battle of the Bulge took place between December 1944 and January 1945 and is known for being the last offensive carried out by the Nazis in World War II.

The Battle of the Bulge was fought between Nazi German forces and Allied forces that were stationed in the Ardennes region, on France's border with Belgium and Germany. This battle is particularly known for being the last offensive organized by Germany in the entirety of World War II.


The Battle of the Bulge was fought during the final months of World War II in Europe, December 1944 and January 1945. At that time, Germany was a collapsing country facing Soviet avalanche on the eastern front and suffered from American and British attacks on the western front.

In Western Europe, the Germans had been fighting the Americans and the British since the landing of troops that had taken place on D-Day . The western front that emerged from D-Day (also known as Operation Overlord ) aimed to create a second front (the Germans were fighting in Eastern Europe) to increase the Germans' attrition in the conflict.

American and British troops were little by little reconquering Nazi-occupied territories in France, however, by the end of 1944, the attrition of the troops caused the strength of the Allies to decrease. This was particularly notable for the Allies' difficulty in achieving new conquests to penetrate German territory.

The situation on the eastern front was much more adverse for the Germans, as the Soviets were superior in practically everything. The industrial capacity of the Soviet Union was far superior to that of a Germany bankrupt by the war, and this was perceived on the battlefield by the great availability of artillery and armor of the Red Army. In addition, the number of Soviet soldiers was enormous, and the losses were met by new reinforcements.

German strategy

According to this mentioned context, one can see that Germany was suffocated because it was being attacked on two different fronts. Thus, it was essential that Germany put an end to the western front in order to prioritize its forces in the fight against the Soviet Union. For that to happen, Hitler organized a plan in the region of the Forest of the Ardennes, located on the border between Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and France.

The German offensive was named Autumn Mist , however, as a distracting strategy to confuse Allied intelligence, the Germans referred to the offensive as Rhine Surveillance . The central idea behind using another name for the operation was to make the allies think it was a defensive operation.

Hitler thought of the Ardennes offensive similar to the plan for the Battle of France 1940:attack the Allies where they least expected it (Ardennes) with the aim of surprising and separating enemy forces. From there, German troops would set out to conquer two Belgian cities:Antwerp and Brussels .

The main objective of the Nazis was to obtain victory against the Allied forces to put themselves in a favorable position and to allow them to force a negotiation with the United States for the end of the confrontation between them. Hitler believed that achieving victory in the Ardennes was possible, however, Hitler's optimism was not shared by other German military personnel.

Battle of the Bulge

The German attack on the Ardennes began at 5:30 am on December 16, 1944. The order for the attack to begin was given by Adolf Hitler himself in one of his underground shelters. Hitler's intention was to mobilize 30 divisions, however, it was only possible to make available 20 divisions, in addition to another five that were placed in the reserve, which totaled 300 thousand German soldiers |1| .

The German attack began with the 6th SS Panzer Army (armoured division), which attacked the Allied troops with 1,900 artillery pieces, opening fire simultaneously and causing great confusion. among the Allies. The German attack took American and British troops by surprise, mainly because they had ignored the signs of the German attack.

The German attack on the Ardennes spread rumors and panic throughout different parts of France. As the Allies were caught off guard, the extent of the enemy's forces was not known for certain, and so rumors spread that the Germans would attack Paris again, and another rumor led the French authorities to authorize the evacuation of Rennes, in the region of Brittany.

The element of surprise allowed the Germans to have some initial success in their offensive in the Ardennes. In addition, a harsh winter had hit and spread a dense fog across the region, which prevented Allied warplanes from operating. The fact that the Americans did not expect a German attack meant that their troops stationed in the Ardennes were weakened – the same mistake made by the French in 1940.

The Germans' fortunes changed after their attack lost strength and when the weather in the region allowed Allied planes to take flight. From December 24, 1944, the role of Allied aviation was fundamental, which ensured that they dominated the battlefield. The harsh winter of the Bulge was a separate chapter of that battle.

Historians claim that the battles fought in the Ardennes were one of the worst battle experiences of World War II. First, American forces did not have adequate clothing to withstand the intense cold that had hit the region. Also, soldiers could not light fires to keep warm because they would attract German artillery attacks.

The Germans also carried out heavy bombing raids in the dense woods of the Ardennes. Thus, cornered by the bombings and hit by the cold, the soldiers were left to shelter for days in the trenches built. The consequence of this was that the cases of trench foot (foot tissue gangrene from permanent contact with cold and water) fired among allied troops.

One ​​of the places in the Ardennes that suffered the most from the German attack was the Belgian city of Bastogne . This city was placed as a top priority by the Germans, as it was located in a strategic region of the Ardennes. The city of Bastogne was crossed by seven roads that led to different regions. The German siege of Bastogne was broken on December 27, 1944.

The Germans were definitively defeated in the Ardennes on January 25, 1945 . There are disagreements about the real dimension of the German attack (if it was organized or if it was the result of desperation). The important thing is that the result was exactly the opposite:defeated in the Ardennes, Germany weakened and lost resources that could be used on the eastern front. That anticipated the end of the Germans in the war.

|1| Hitler didn't play his last card badly. To access, click here.

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