- Simonskaller Str. 1, 52393 Hürtgenwald, Allemagne
How many soldiers died is not known; there were some 10.000 German and 30.000 American dead in the Huertgen Forest battle area. While the German dead are interred at the local military cemetery, U.S. soldiers cannot be buried on enemy soil. U.S. soldiers found their final resting places at the American Cemeteries in Belgium, or the Netherlands.
In February 1945, when the evacuated inhabitants returned to the Huertgen Forest in the Eifel Mountains after the end of the battle, they were greeted by a picture of horror: The villages were in ruins, the forest full of dead soldiers, and the landscape a desert of mud and wrecked equipment. The terrain was extensively mined, a deadly danger for the people. Until well into the 1950s, many mine-clearing experts and also civilians were killed by accidents involving ammunition.
During the very hot summer of 1947, repeated incidences of the spontaneous ignition of phosphorus ammunition sparked fires that were almost impossible to extinguish. The inhabitants of the region were subjected every night to a terrible spectacle of forest fires that caused the sky of the northern Eifel Mountains to glow red, accompanied by the explosions of left-over ammunition. Not until October did the fires die down, leaving a literally scorched earth.
Now, the work of recovering the dead could begin, most of it privately organized. Exactly how many soldiers in fact died is still not precisely known; the latest estimates are that there were some 10.000 German and 30.000 American dead in the Huertgen Forest battle area, a huge number for such a small area.
To this day, hundreds of soldiers on both sides are still listed as missing in action, and the remains of soldiers continue to be found. While the German dead are interred at the local military cemetery, U.S. soldiers cannot, under U.S. law, be buried on enemy soil. Numerous fallen U.S. soldiers found their final resting places at the American Cemetery in Henri-Chapelle, Belgium, or at the American Cemetery of the Netherlands.