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of holding attacks on the northern flank] the enemy must not be warned in advance by secondary attacks." [12] The simultaneous attack in the north thus was forbidden, its place to be taken by a series of holding attacks at some unspecified time in the dim and distant final phases of the projected operation.


It appeared that Rundstedt's concentric attack had followed the Small Solution into limbo. Certainly the OB WEST commander showed no readiness to defend his brain-child after the Hitler edict. Model, however, stood in a somewhat more favored position vis-a-vis Jodl and Hitler as befitted a field marshal who was a rabidly loyal Nazi. Circumstances now were in conspiracy to make Model the ball carrier for the OB WEST twopronged attack, which he had disavowed, and for the Small Solution, supposedly dead and buried.


The plans and preparations preliminary to the Ardennes counteroffensive, it must be recognized, were not produced in a vacuum. The war in the west, somewhat somnolent during October, had flared up again in November with the U.S. Third Army attack in the Metz sector and the combined offensive which the U.S. First and Ninth Armies had launched on 16 November with the intention of breaking through the German defenses east of Aachen and driving to the Rhine. [13] The latter operation, designated by the Germans as the Third Battle of Aachen but known to Americans as the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest, had been forecast with bitter foreboding in Model's headquarters. On the very first day of the new Aachen offensive, Model proposed a limited operation against the northern wing of the U.S. First Army using troops which had been earmarked for Wacht am Rhein. The OB WEST and Army Group B commanders now were able to forget their personal differences and the animosities engendered between their respective staffs in pursuit of the common object: the acceptance by Hitler of some type of Small Solution in which the means were appropriate to the end. Rundstedt's forwarding letter, sent to Jodl on 18 November while German losses in the Aachen battle were skyrocketing, backed Model to the hilt: "A surprise attack directed against the weakened enemy, after the conclusion of his unsuccessful breakthrough attempts in the greater Aachen area, offers the greatest chance of success." [14] To achieve this, wrote Rundstedt, he as the OB WEST commander must be given an absolutely free hand in determining when the attack should be made. He wrote this at a time when it was evident to all that Hitler intended to keep every such decision in his own hands. Was the old Prussian field marshal encouraged to fly in the face of the Fuehrer directive because the young Nazi field marshal was at his side? Or did some sense of obligation to the uniform he had worn for fifty-four years impel Rundstedt to make a last effort to give the German troops who would take part in the coming battle the best possible chance of success?


[12] OKW Operation Directive of 10 Nov 44, OB WEST, KTB Anlage 50, vol. I, pp. 95-104.


[13] On the attacks made by the U.S. First and Third Armies in November 1944 see Charles B. MacDonald, The Siegfried Line Campaign, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1963) and Cole, The Lorraine Campaign.


[14] Ltr, Rundstedt to Jodl, 18 Nov 44, OB WEST, KTB Anlage 50, vol. I, pp. 152-59.