Sixty-two years ago three German armies totaling a half million men caught advancing U.S. forces in the Ardennes region of Belgium and Luxembourg by surprise and initiated the events that resulted in the Battle of the Bulge. Thanks to the unbelievable endurance, bravery and sacrifice of the American forces that slowed the German advance sufficiently for General Patton to bring the Third Army to bear, the Battle of the Bulge was close to Hitler’s last gasp.
On this day in 1944 the German call for the surrender of the surrounded American forces under General McAuliffe’s command at Bastogne resulted in General McAuliffe’s immortal, untranslatable response. “If you don’t understand what ‘Nuts!’ means,” Colonel Joseph Harper explained to his mystified German interlocutors, “in plain English it is the same as ‘Go to hell.’ And I will tell you something else; if you continue to attack, we will kill every goddamn German that tries to break into this city.”
A few years back Paul Greenberg conveyed the essence of the story in an excellent column. The interview with General Harry Kinnard posted at “‘Nuts!’ revisited” also provides a good summary. This year Stanley Weintraub has updated the story in 11 Days in December. At NRO Kathryn Jean Lopez has posted her interview with Weintraub on Christmas at the Bulge. Don’t miss any of ’em.
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“Arise and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” Winston Churchill