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reasonable plan; he refused to appeal to Hitler in person, as Westphal urged, on the ground that it was futile to expect a favorable hearing from the Fuehrer.


A Double Envelopment?


Closely linked with the Big Solution was the question of the form in which the attack should be delivered. The Hitler concept called for a single thrust on a wide front; this broad zone of action, so the argument ran, would make it difficult for the enemy to concentrate his forces for a riposte. When the Allies commenced to react, and only then, a secondary attack would be launched in the north from the Venlo area by two army corps under Army Group H (Student). Rundstedt, on the other hand, hoped to deny the enemy the ability to mass for a counterthrust by employing a double envelopment, the two prongs of the attack moving simultaneously from their jump-off positions. His reply, on 3 November, to the OKW instructions was phrased most carefully, but despite the protestation that the points of difference between the OKW and OB WEST plans were "unessential," Rundstedt made clear his opinion that a concentric maneuver was a must:


"It is a requisite that a powerful [secondary] attack be launched from the area Susteren-Geilenkirchen simultaneously with the [main attack] of Sixth SS Panzer, Fifth Panzer and Seventh Armies; otherwise the destruction of the strong [Allied] forces already concentrated in the Sittard-Liege-Monschau triangle cannot be achieved." [9]


Rundstedt then politely bowed in the direction of Hitler's scheme for the follow-up attack in Holland: "After successful execution [of this operation], strong forces will be free for deployment in one of two possible courses of action depending upon the situation; either in support of the attack of Army Group Student, or in a northward thrust via Maastricht." [10]


Although Model and Army Group B were not consulted in the preparation of this answer from Rundstedt to Jodl, the army group planners made haste to repudiate any plan for a simultaneous two-pronged attack. The force making up the northern arm in Rundstedt's scheme, the XII SS Corps, was too weak to carry through a simultaneous secondary attack; nor would Model agree to further reduction of the main effort as a step in beefing up the northern thrust. The OB WEST chief of staff could do no more than note this disclaimer from the subordinate headquarters: "The simultaneous attack of the XII SS Corps is regarded as essential by Field Marshal von Rundstedt for the purpose of tying down [the enemy]. Considering the weakness of our forces, OKW is of the same opinion as you. We will have to await a decision." [11]


This came four days later in the Fuehrer's operations directive of 10 November. Quite obviously Rundstedt's plea for the double envelopment had gone unheeded. Indeed, Hitler seems to have taken upon himself the task of burying this idea, for the copy of the operations directive prepared for his signature has a sentence inserted after the main text was typed: "In this sector [reference is being made to the Fifteenth Army which Hitler had assigned the mission


[9] Ibid.


[10] Ibid.


[11] Ltr, Westphal to Krebs, 6 Nov 44, OB WEST, KTB Anlage 50, vol. I pp. 67-70.