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entire field of battle reduced considerably in size from the maneuver area envisaged in the original Hitler directive. The simultaneous secondary thrust from the Roermond salient was regarded by Rundstedt as essential to the OB WEST plan.


At Fichtenhain near Krefeld, in a group of modern buildings which had been erected as a nursing home for alcoholics, Field Marshal Model and a small fragment of his army group staff also busied themselves with an answer to the Hitler directive. Despite his avowed loyalty to the party and Fuehrer, Model's reaction to Krebs' report had been caustic in the extreme: "This plan hasn't got a damned leg to stand on." [6] Antwerp, in Model's opinion, was beyond reach without more forces than were available.


As Rundstedt had done, Model proceeded to whittle away at the grandiose plan which had come from the Wolf's Lair. Even more than OB WEST, Model and his staff feared the Allied threat in the Aachen sector. Sensitive to this and anxious to concentrate as much of the limited means as possible in the main punch, Model at once rejected the idea of a twopronged attack. The Army Group B plan, called Herbstnebel (autumn fog), assigned the armored formations which Rundstedt intended to employ in the secondary thrust from Roermond to a general reserve in the Duren area; from there this armor could be thrown in as the second wave of the main drive, or, if need be, rushed to bolster the defenses in the Aachen sector.


The Herbstnebel plan called for a single powerful thrust on a front about forty miles wide, the breakthrough to be achieved between the Hurtgen Forest and Lutzkampen with the Fifth and Sixth Panzer Armies leading the attack. On the left wing the Seventh Army would not make an immediate advance as in the OB WEST maneuver, but would follow in the track of the Sixth Panzer Army as a second wave. In contrast to the wedge formation advocated by OB WEST for the main thrust, in which forces echeloned to the rear would develop a kind of snowplow effect rolling back the enemy on the flanks, the Army Group B maneuver represented a mechanized and motorized version of the Napoleonic carre in which the main disposition for the rupture of the enemy position was a square with two formations abreast in the lead and two formations following on the same axis. The weight accorded the main thrust by the two panzer armies was about the same in both plans; both would employ seven armored divisions, but Model provided thirteen infantry divisions as compared with Rundstedt's ten.


The two plans finally were presented on 27 October in a joint conference at Fichtenhain. On this occasion the generals nominated to command the participating armies (General der Panzertruppen Hasso-Eccard von Manteuffel, Generaloberst der Waffen-SS Josef "Sepp" Dietrich, and General der Panzertruppen Erich Brandenberger) joined the OB WEST and Army Group B commanders and their chiefs of staff. In an initial briefing by Rundstedt, the problems of cover and deception were enumerated with solutions about the same as those employed in the final operation. Cover would be based on the idea, Defensive Battle in the West. Deception would aim at attracting the


[6] Interv, Luttichau with Metzsch, 14-19 Mar 52.