- Historic Sites
Bloody Huertgen: The Battle That Should Never Have Been Fought
In his reassessment of a tragic World War II battle, General Gavin concludes that, for the Germans, holding the Huertgen Forest was Phase One of the Battle of the Bulge. For the Americans, trying to occupy the forest was a ghastly mistake.
December 1979 | Volume 31, Issue 1
When the intercepts were suddenly brought to a stop by Hitler’s ban on all radio communications, no one seems to have questioned what was going on. Hitler therefore was able to assemble twenty-one combat divisions, including eight Panzers, without the Allies knowing anything about it. In retrospect, this seems unbelievable, but all three events were closely related—the unbridled optimism of the high command, the discontinuance of the radio traffic of the German formations, and their ability to organize a major counteroffensive. Thus, to the Germans, the battle of the Huertgen Forest was Phase One of the Battle of the Bulge.
That battle was Hitler’s last gamble. The bitter, costly fighting by the Germans in the Huertgen Forest in October and November of 1944 was essential to their chance of success. But for us, Huertgen was one of the most costly, most unproductive, and most ill-advised battles that our army has ever fought.