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Antwerp and the encirclement and destruction of the Allied forces north of the line Bastogne-Brussels-Antwerp. This would require a drastic revision of German strategy on all fronts. Combat divisions would have to be stripped from the Eastern Front in particular and given to OB WEST. Replacements and supplies for other fronts than the west would have to be reduced to a mere trickle. Obviously ground would have to be surrendered elsewhere if the great attack in the west were to be successful; therefore local commanders must be allowed to make their own decisions as to retrograde movement. (Surely Hitler must have gagged on this item.) This was not all. Jodl and Buttlar-Brandenfels recommended extreme measures to wring the extra divisions which the Big Solution required out of the German people. The Third Reich would have to be turned into a fortress under martial law, with total mobilization of men, women, and children-a step which was not taken in fact until the spring of 1945.


If Hitler would not adopt the extreme measures needed to implement the Big Solution with an adequate number of new divisions, then he should accept the alternate or Small Solution. In this the object would be the seizure of Liege and the envelopment of those enemy forces east of the Meuse in the sector roughly demarcated by Givet (on the Meuse) in the south, and Sittard (twenty miles northeast of Aachen) in the north.


Hitler ridiculed the Small Solution as nothing but a half measure which could produce no real success. At the same time he was unwilling to adopt the stern measures necessary to make the Big Solution a success. Despite all protestations that the final battle would be won or lost in the west, the Fuehrer could not bring himself to take troops from the Eastern Front and stake everything on a quick decision in the west. Stubbornly, Hitler adhered to Antwerp as the goal of the attack and the proposition that it could be achieved with only those thirty divisions or so which could be raised by OKW or saved out of the ruck by OB WEST.


By the end of October it must have been apparent to Jodl that Hitler could not be moved, nor could the letter of instruction to the C-in-C West be longer delayed. The Fuehrer instructions signed on 1 November were sent to Rundstedt with a brief covering letter dictated by Jodl. Two sentences from Jodl warned Rundstedt that Hitler had plumped irrevocably for the Big Solution: "The venture for the far-flung objective [Antwerp] is unalterable although, from a strictly technical standpoint, it appears to be disproportionate to our available forces. In our present situation, however, we must not shrink from staking everything on one card." [7]


Rundstedt's answer, sent to Jodl on 3 November, followed the German military tradition by which a commander was entitled to state his objection to orders for the record. The forces available for Wacht am Rhein, he wrote, were "extremely weak in comparison to the enemy and the zone of action"; then he voiced his "grave doubts whether it would be possible to hold the ground won, unless the enemy is completely destroyed." [8] But these words for the record ended Rundstedt's efforts for a more


[7] Ltr, Jodl to Westphal, 1 Nov 44, OB WEST, KTB Anlage 50, vol. I, pp. 30-31.


[8] Ltr, Rundstedt to Jodl, 3 Nov 44, OB WEST, KTB Anlage 50, vol. I, pp. 47-50.