The hell in Hellenthal

  • Luxemburger Str. 59, 53940 Hellenthal, Germany

16 December 1944 marked the beginning of the last major offensive on the Western front. The Allied forces called this Ardennes offensive The battle of the Bulge. Hitler had to call on inexperienced youngsters, many of whom were barely 14 or 15 years old. With no combat experience to speak of, these youngsters proved unable to match the Allied supremacy.

During the summer of 1944, the German Army suffered heavy losses on all fronts. Despite urgent requests from his generals for reinforcements in the east, Hitler looked the other way and launched the Ardennes offensive in the winter. The goal was to recapture the Port of Antwerp and cut off the Allied supply line.

On Saturday 16 December, Hitler started the offensive. Tens of thousands of mostly young and inexperienced troops and around 1000 tanks set off towards the Ardennes. The attack took place along a line stretching 140 kilometres south from the Hollerather Knee to the border of Luxembourg. The march to Antwerp failed quickly. The German forces suffered heavy losses at Bastogne and St Vith. Many American soldiers also lost their lives. Insufficient men, cold and wet weather, and a lack of fuel, ammunition and heavy artillery broke the German troops. After six weeks of fighting, they were forced back to where the attack began.

The Ardennes offensive had definitively failed. Tens of thousands of casualties had fallen on both sides, and the German Army had not gained an inch by the end of it. The Allies continued to supply a steady stream of tanks and men.

The hell in Hellenthal