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Battle of Hurtgen Forest

From Academic Kids

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Karte_Huertgenwald.jpg
Map of Hürtgenwald and vicinity

Battle of Hurtgen Forest (German: Schlacht im Hürtgenwald) is name given to series of fierce battles fought between the Americans and the Germans during World War II in the Hürtgen forest (or Huertgen forest), afterwards known to both Americans and Germans simply as the Huertgenwald (Hürtgenwald). The battles took place between September 19, 1944 and February 10, 1945, in a strategically insignificant corridor of barely 50 square miles (129 km²) on the Belgian-German border.

Contents

Battle

The American High Command was flush with success after the breakout at Normandy and hoped they could quickly break through and push further into Germany. Multiple divisions were sent in, only to be wrecked and replaced by still more divisions. Even with armor, air, and artillery support, all advantages held by the Americans were nullified by the forest terrain. Despite smaller numbers, the Germans were able to delay the stronger American force thanks to the difficult terrain and good defensive positions.

It was the perfect battleground for an over-stretched German army. If taken quickly, the Germans could have easily flooded the entire Hürtgen Valley from the surrounding dams, delaying American advances. The Germans were heavily entrenched in the forest and inflicted heavy casualities in the longest single battle the American Army has ever fought in its history. The Germans inflicted well over 24,000 casualties on American forces during the battle. The Americans suffered an additional 9,000 casualties due to fatigue, illness, and friendly fire. Up to 12,000 German lives were also claimed. Despite this, Hürtgenwald is largely forgotten as the Battle of the Bulge, which began shortly afterwards, took its limelight away.

Some of the units fighting in the Hürtgen Forest also fought at Omaha Beach and they said that the Hürtgen was a much bloodier fight than Omaha beach. Ernest Hemingway described the battle as "Passchendaele with tree bursts"1 which is an appropriate epitaph.

Other

There is an ongoing discussion whether this battle did make any sense at all because the Americans did concentrate on the village of Schmidt and neiter tried to conquer the strategic Roer-Dams nor recognized the importance of Hill 400 until very late in the battle.

Today Tourist can visit a museum in Vossenack, have a look at a few of the many Siegfried Line-bunkers and take a walk on the famous Kall-Trail.

A multiplayer map based upon this battle is created for Call of Duty and Call of Duty: United Offensive.

Notes

  1. Tree bursts is a technique of using artillery shells that burst in the treetops causing hot metal shrapnel and wood fragments to rain down. Since American soldiers had been trained to fall prone upon artillery fire this technique proved particulary deadly until American G.I.s learned instead to "hug-a-tree" during bombardment.

References

  • The Battle of Hurtgen Forest by Charles Whiting, 274 pp. (Orion Books, New York, 1989; Volume 4 in "The West Wall Series", Combined Publishing, 2000)
  • A Dark and Bloody Ground: The Hurtgen Forest and the Roer River Dams, 1944-1945 by Edward G. Miller, in the "Military History Series" Volume 39. Texas A&M University Press. 250 pp.
  • The Bloody Forest: Battle for Hurtgen September 1944 - January 1945 by Gerald Astor, 379 pp. (Presidio Press, 2000)

External links

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