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ers were not the only military bridge players) or the Big Solution." Although Jodl and the WFSt often were charged by subordinate headquarters as having no realization of the difficulties under which the outnumbered German troops were battling, here appears to be one case in which the planning staff was thoroughly aware that the means were not and could not be adequate to the grandiose object of the Big Solution. Without the support of the field commanders, as yet not involved in the planning, Jodl dared not, or at least preferred not, to gainsay the Fuehrer's proposal. The argument at this point was on the location of the southern boundary of the main attack force. Hitler held for the line Wasserbillig, Arlon, and the north bank of the Semois River. The staff proposal was more modest in the area assigned the attack, the southern boundary originating near Diekirch, passing north of Martelange to Neufchateau, thence turning northwest to Givet.


Ten days after the initial staff presentation Jodl was back to hand Hitler the revised outline plan or Aufmarschanweisung. The Aufmarschanweisung, in German practice, was a directive containing the basic parts of the plan, the guiding principles to be followed in developing and implementing the plan, and general instructions as to procedure. From this, more detailed planning normally was undertaken by the headquarters assigned to carry out the operation. Even before Hitler gave the final nod, the chiefs of staff of the two major field Commands concerned (as yet unaware that a counteroffensive was in the offing) were called to the East Prussian headquarters. General der Kavellerie Siegfried Westphal, from OB West, and General der Infanterie Hans Krebs, chief of Model's Army Group B staff, reported at the Wolf's Lair on the morning of 22 October. [3] They hardly could have expected a pleasant reception: the embattled city of Aachen had fallen to the Americans, and they had the unpleasant task of pressing OKW for a favorable answer to Rundstedt's repeated-and unanswered-requests for more divisions to prevent an Allied breakthrough to the Ruhr.


Scarcely had salutes been exchanged when the two generals were asked to sign a pledge binding them to secrecy in regard to a mysterious operation Wacht am Rhein (Watch on the Rhine). If this plan should leak out they would be shot! Westphal and Krebs were in the toils of a security system as carefully conceived and executed as the combined vigilance of the armed forces and the Gestapo could make it. Wacht am Rhein was a cover name, chosen to give the impression that the plan was for a defense at the Rhine. An alternate and more commonly used formula, the Abwehrschlacht im Westen (Defensive Battle in the West) had the same intent and the added advantage that it had been used to describe the battles around Aachen.


Probably the two generals were greatly heartened-and surprised-when they were handed a long list of troops scheduled to arrive on the Western Front at the end of November and in early December. At noon, for the first time, they reported to Hitler who was holding


[3] The German term Oberbefehlshaber West, which may mean either the Commander in Chief West or his headquarters, has been rendered as OB WEST when it refers to the headquarters and as C-in-C West when it refers to the person.