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By 20 November, divisions earmarked for Wacht am Rhein were in the line east of Aachen, and it appeared that still others would have to be used against Patton at Metz. On this date Model again enlisted Rundstedt's support to brace Hitler. This time Model specifically asked for an improvised limited double envelopment to destroy the fourteen Allied divisions in the Aachen sector. Model argued that the attack he proposed would give as much tactical and psychological success as Wacht am Rhein, and that the destruction of such a large number of Allied divisions would be a necessary prerequisite for success in any future attack like Wacht am Rhein. Apparently the two Western Front commanders were trying to drive a bargain with the Fuehrer: let us undertake a limited double envelopment in the Aachen area which will put us at the Meuse and eat up the enemy reserves; thereafter, we will be in a position to regroup, bring fresh forces (not now available) forward, and undertake the drive to Antwerp. But Hitler would not bargain. The answer, relayed by Jodl on 22 November, was abrupt: "Preparations for an improvisation will not be made." [15]


The workings of a dictatorship in a large and complex society are devious and hard to fathom. Hitler had degraded and executed German generals in the cruelest fashion while Rundstedt and the German Officer Corps stood passively by. A vocal inflection, a doubting word, had been enough to break famous field commanders. The great General Staff was in complete disgrace, suffering constant ridicule from Hitler in craven silence. Instructions issued by Hitler for the con- duct of operations were in such detail that field commanders of the stature of Rundstedt and Model lacked the authority to move units as small as divisions. Whenever a field commander appeared at the Wolf's Lair he found the atmosphere formal and chilling. The imputation of cowardice and treason was commonplace. Despite all this, the Fuehrer's personal dictatorship suffered the limitations and strictures which seem to be a part of all modern dictatorships. The armies under his command had suffered reverses and his personal prestige as war lord had declined. The generals who had been raised to power by the Nazi party as Nazis could not be broken without weakening the dictatorship of the party. Finally, the number of generals with proven ability and public prestige, at this stage of the war, was relatively small. Even the Supreme War Lord would have to listen to men of prestige who had the courage to risk his disfavor.


Jodl visited OB WEST headquarters on 26 November, only to find that Rundstedt and Model were determined to cling to the Small Solution and the concept of concentric attack. Once again Hitler handed down his edict: "There will be absolutely no change in the present intentions." But Model was tenacious. Taking advantage of a conference which Hitler called in Berlin on 2 December, Model brought forward his heavy artillery: Sepp Dietrich, Hitler's old crony, and "Little" Manteuffel, the panzer general with the big reputation, both supporters of the Small Solution. Still Hitler refused to budge. One last attempt to win over the Fuehrer was made four days later when Rundstedt


[15] Msg, Jodl to Rundstedt, 22 Nov 44, OB WEST, KTB Anlage 50, vol. II, p. 12. (Quotation is from Hitler.)