- Point of Interest
- Heimbacher Straße 2, Nideggen, Allemagne
On 12 September 1944, the first U.S. troops crossed the German border near the ancient city of Aachen, with units pushing into the Huertgen Forest to secure their right flank. Underestimating the German defences and the difficulties of the terrain they suffered heavy losses during a bitter confrontation starting on 2 November, known as ‘The Battle for (the town of) Schmidt’.
On 12 September 1944, the first U.S. troops crossed the German border near the village of Roetgen outside of Aachen. In their advance toward Germany’s westernmost major city, units of the 1st U.S. Army pushed into the Huertgen Forest in the Eifel Mountains south of the city, to secure their flank. Initially the U.S. forces were unable to achieve any decisive breakthrough towards the Rhine. By mid-October they renewed their efforts. First they wanted to take the strategic important village of Schmidt to the northwest of the Rur Reservoir. On the morning of 2 November 1944, the so-called Battle for Schmidt – or, to the Germans, the Allerseelenschlacht (‘All Souls’ Day Battle’) commenced.
The U.S. 28th Infantry Division committed three regiments to the advance on Schmidt. On the second day, one regiment managed to reach the village church. The other two regiments however, found the going very tough in the thick woods, and suffered heavy losses. The American units in Schmidt then came under artillery fire from the German 89th Infantry Division and the 272nd ‘People’s Grenadier’ Division. American tanks sent in as support were disabled due to ignorance of the terrain.
Moreover, the U.S. troops had underestimated the German defences. The Germans, for their part, needed to hold the Huertgen Forest as a marshalling area for their planned offensive in the Ardennes – the Battle of the Bulge. All Allied attempts to organize resupply failed. The Americans on the bare ridge between Vossenack and Schmidt were pounded by German artillery until 8 November 1944, when their withdrawal was ordered.
He volunteered to save injured comrades, stepped on a mine and died. On 13 December 1944 Robert Cahow lost his life in the Hürtgen Forest. His comrades heard the detonation but couldn’t help him due to intense enemy fire. He was buried sometime later, most likely by German soldiers. Cahow’s remains were discovered in 2000. At the spot, a makeshift grave commemorates him to this day.
The state of North Rhine-Westphalia, in western Germany, holds a deep industrial heritage. During WWII, the region housed the industrial Ruhr district, which was vital to the German war production, and therefore several cities and towns were totally destroyed. Nowadays,
During the autumn and winter of 1944/45, the longest battle of the Second World War on German soil took place in the Hürtgen Forest. With this battle, the war precipitated by the Nazi regime returned to Germany. The battle caused numerous casualties on both sides. For the American soldiers, it’s very name – with its first syllable ‘hurt’ – became a byword for injury and death.