Warfare History Network » The Battle of the Bulge: Why Counterattack in Belgium?
Download FREE briefings. Have an account? Please log in. Text Size: A A A

The Battle of the Bulge: Why Counterattack in Belgium?

WWII

The Battle of the Bulge: Why Counterattack in Belgium?

It was in Belgium that the Führer, Adolf Hitler would launch the Battle of the Bulge, his final offensive against the Allies.

It was in Belgium that the Führer, Adolf Hitler would launch the Battle of the Bulge, his final offensive against the Allies.

by Kevin M. Hymel

As it turns out, Belgium was the perfect place to hide a counteroffensive against the Allies. It is a mountainous country where towns are squeezed close together; the hills are punctuated by forests and small farms; and the forests are filled with small, thin trees while most farms are on slopes.

Killing Adolf Hitler

The many plots to assassinate the madman responsible for the death of millions... Get your copy of Warfare History Network’s FREE Special Report, Killing Adolf Hitler

 

It was in this terrain that Adolf Hitler launched his final offensive in the West, initiating Operation “Watch on the Rhine”.

Favorable Landscape and Weather

Along with favorable terrain, the Führer had another advantage in the weather. The heavy fogs that haunt the Low Countries from November through December had rolled in, nullifying Allied air superiority. Even today, Belgium’s weather consists mainly of overcast skies. In fact, in the year 2000 Belgium saw only 25 days of sunlight.

In addition to a favorable landscape and weather, the Germans had one more advantage at the Battle of the Bulge—the local populace spoke German, and a number of people in the towns considered themselves German.

Help From the Locals

When the offensive was launched, the residents of Merlscheid, which was once part of Germany, helped guide the Nazi Tiger tanks through the town at night. In the town of Honsfeld, less identified with Germany, a family trying to hide their son from conscription offered their daughter as a guide. The bargain did not work out. Her raped body was found west of the town during the spring thaw.

Today the locations of the German offensive look much as they did before the Battle of the Bulge; an impressive achievement, since Europe does not have the equivalent of a park service to keep its historic areas preserved. Honsfeld, famous (or infamous) for the German photo of soldiers trying on American boots with the previous owners’ corpses in the foreground, remains much the same today. The water troughs for animals are still there, and the fork in the road is recognizable to any passing tourist familiar with the incident. American foxholes can still be found, though the thought of finding anything from the 1940s is quickly stifled when would-be treasure hunters realize the land has already been mined over and over again.

It was in Belgium that the Führer, Adolf Hitler would launch the Battle of the Bulge, his final offensive against the Allies.

The Advantages Begin to Turn

Belgium may have been an ideal place to hide a huge offensive, but the land did not favor such action once it began. Despite the superiority of Tiger and Panther tanks and the experience of the German Army, the numerous streams and hilly ground gave the Americans excellent defensive positions from which to slow the attack.

In the end, the advantages of Belgium could not outweigh the disadvantages. A sustained offensive on such terrain could not be given the demands of a two-front war. The German plan at the Battle of the Bulge, while excellent for providing a breakthrough, could not achieve a breakout.

Add Your Comments

One Comment

  1. Alex Perez
    Posted November 4, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    The article has many factual mistakes. Belgium is not “a mountainous country where towns are squeezed close together” In fact the nickname for the country is “le plat pays” of the flat country. The ardennes region of Belgium (which extends into Luxembourg, France and Germany) is as described. but 85% of the country has nothing to do with this description. Also only about 0.70% of Belgium (75,000 out of 10 million) speak German, even in 1944-1945, and only a small part of the region where the battle of the bulge took place ( the area south ouf Eupen and north of St, Vith could even think of being german as these were territories goven to Belgium after WWI. The rest, quite the contrary, since they had been fighting the Germans since WWI. And the rest of the province of Luxembourg in Belgium, and The country of Luxembourg, where the Battle of the bulge took place, do not correspond at all to what you state here.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *



Issue Previews

Adolf Hitler Sends Jochen Peiper to the Bulge

Adolf Hitler Sends Jochen Peiper to the Bulge

The offensive Adolf Hitler sent Jochen Peiper into was his last desperate gamble in the West. But how did it influence the fighting at the Battle of the Bulge?

The Port Chicago Disaster: The Largest Mutiny Trial in U.S. History

The Port Chicago Disaster: The Largest Mutiny Trial in U.S. History

When a massive explosion shook Port Chicago, a key naval depot near San Francisco, the shockwaves set off the largest mutiny trial in U.S. history.

Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee and the Battle of the Wilderness

Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee and the Battle of the Wilderness

During the Battle of the Wilderness, Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Potomac clashed hard with Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia.

Brandy Station: The Largest American Civil War Cavalry Battle

Brandy Station: The Largest American Civil War Cavalry Battle

The largest cavalry battle of the American Civil War took place at Brandy Station, Virginia, where J.E.B. Stuart’s Confederates and Alfred Pleasonton’s Federals clashed, swords flashing and pistols blazing.

facebook gplus twitter youtube rss

Enter Your Log In Credentials

Forgot your Password?

×
.