The Siegfried Line and the Battle of Hürtgenwald

Period: September 16 1944 - February 9th 1945

Quote: General Dwight Eisenhower, beginning in november 1944: Combat Units have permission to base their daily requests for additional troops on expected loss rates.

Involved: Major General Maurice Rose as commander of 3d Armored Division participated in the Battle of the Hürtgenwald.

Infantry soldier Leo Lichten arrives on November 9 at the front and was killed 11 days later during an attack on a German bunker.

Tank technician Arthur Whitbeck arrives in the last days of 1944 and enters Germany with 784 Tank Batallion, on December 31.

In the first days of November 1944 George Brouillette enjoys a well-earned rest in the Rest Center Rolduc (Kerkrade), and is killed in Germany when he steps on a mine.

After Operation Market Garden had failed, the Allies had to fight their way to Germany through the Siegfried Line, which they had been close to in September 1944. The line of 630 km ran from Kleef,near Arnhem in the north, to the Swiss border in the south. The aim was to defend the western border of Germany against intruders. The Siegfriedline, referred to by the Germans as Westwall was a combination of bunkers, gun emplacements, fortifications, minefields, trenches and concrete barriers: the dragon teeth.

Allied military leaders decided to force a breakthrough between the peat area in North Limburg and to the south, the Ardennes and the Hürtgenwald. They could then proceed to the Rhine. The attacks would focus primarily on securing the Hürtgenwald and Aachen. Taking the Hürtgenwald was important as then the Allies would be able to prevent the retreating Germans from sabotaging dams in the river Roer. This would put the intended route under water. Capturing Aachen,one of the largest cities in Germany, would be symbolically important.

The battle for the Hürtgenwald began on September 16, and the attack on Aachen on October 2nd. The German garrison that defended the city capitulated on October 21; the Americans took 120,00 prisoners of war. The battle for the Hürtgenwald would last till February 9, with a pause between mid-December and late January, when all eyes were on the Battle of the Bulge.

From September '44 - Feb '45 the front was quiet for several months. This was also due to the long supply lines. In August and September 1944 the Allies had advanced so quickly that the supply lines could not keep up.

American soldiers fighting in the streets of Aachen
Source: Public domain

German artillery positioned in Hürtgenwald
Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J28303 / CC-BY-SA

American infantrymen breaching the Siegfried Line
Source: Public domain

FRONTLINE WW2: U.S. Engages the Siegfried Line
Source: Public domain | Documentary Tube

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