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not cordial. After the suicide of Kluge, both the supreme ground command in the west, OB WEST, and that of Army Group B had been united on Model's shoulders. Rundstedt's return to the Western Front ostensibly was ordered to relieve this untenable command situation. However, Hitler and his advisers intended to keep the old field marshal officially in leading strings. Model was well aware of the limitations imposed on Rundstedt. He himself was an ardent Nazi, clever, ambitious, and much younger than Rundstedt. Thus far Model had retained a high place in the Fuehrer's notoriously fickle favor. The upshot seems to have been a kind of truce between Rundstedt and Model in which the younger field marshal deferred to the elder, but in which the OB WEST commander kept his place by handling two-way communications between his subordinate headquarters, Army Group B, and his superior headquarters, OKW, without overly much interference or comment. Under such strained circumstances OB WEST would more and more assume the properties of a rubber stamp, this becoming most apparent during the actual operations in the Ardennes. [4]


Whether or not Rundstedt's views would get an airing before Hitler, the same sense of duty which compelled the aging field marshal to remain in his anomalous post also forced him to an official expression of his military opinion. Sometime around 21 September Rundstedt had advised OKW that the ultimate objective for all strategy in the west should be a counteroffensive to inflict a decisive defeat on the enemy. The hope of such a strategy seems to have evaporated in the smoke and dust of the Aachen battle; by mid-October Rundstedt had a single thought, simply to hold on. It may be that momentarily Rundstedt was fired by the plans which his chief of staff brought back from the Wolf's Lair, but the field marshal was too old and too experienced to expect miracles. Although Rundstedt had recognized the merit of Hitler's operational plan, from the very first he


[4] The relations between Rundstedt and Model are described by one of the latter's staff officers Thuisko von Metzch, in an unpublished report made for the Office of the Chief of Military History in 1952, Charles V. P. von Luttichau, Report on the Interview With Mr. Thuisko von Metzch [14-19 March 1952] on Operations of Army Croup B and Its Role in the German Ardennes Offensive, 1944. Copy in OCMH.