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of formations in the line. By the first week of December the Aachen battle had resulted in the direct commitment or a cessation of training and rehabilitation in the case of five panzer-type and seven infantry divisions. An additional six Volks artillery corps had been tossed into the fray but, made up of over-age reservists, they probably profited by this enforced training period.


It is hardly surprising that the impact of the attacks around Aachen and Metz should have further shaken Rundstedt's and Model's already wavering belief in the possibility of any large measure of success for the Ardennes counteroffensive. Model reacted more strongly than Rundstedt, the latter fatigued by the constant tug of war with OKW and more and more adopting the resignation of the aged. When Model again took up the cudgels for the Small Solution, stressing the paucity of forces left for the counteroffensive, he sounded a prophetic warning: "Should the attack be stopped at the Meuse due to the lack of reserves the only result will be a bulge in the line and not the destruction of sizable enemy forces [italics supplied].... The widely stretched flanks, especially in the south, will only invite enemy counteractions." Hitler answered by assuring OB WEST that "the number of units originally projected will be made available." This was on 27 November. The initial target date for Wacht am Rhein had come and gone; the Allied November offensive had been a spoiling attack in the true sense of the term, albeit unwittingly so.


The German attack in the west launched on 10 May 1940, in so many respects the prototype for the 1944 counteroffensive in the Ardennes, had been postponed some sixteen times. [1] The period of planning and preparation had covered six and a half months. In 40, however, there was no pressing reason to disturb the quiet of the "phony war," nor was the Third Reich seriously threatened on the ground or in the air. The summer disasters in 1944, on the contrary, demanded immediate action to recoup German losses and stave off an immediate threat. There is no question that Hitler's selection of the target date for the start of the offensive, 25 November 1944, was made with every intention that the operation should begin in fact before the end of November. Furthermore, Rundstedt and Model had accepted this date without official question, despite the fact that it would leave them only one month in which to make ready. Rundstedt, however, had added a cautionary note by reminding OKW that the actual attack date would depend upon the arrival of the panzer divisions in their forward assembly positions and the completion of ammunition and fuel stockpiling in the concentration area.


There is some evidence that the Fuehrer had chosen November not only for its promise of poor flying weather but also because he hoped to win a victory in the west and release divisions to the Eastern Front before the beginning of the annual Soviet winter offensive. If so, this second desideratum was not considered of really vital importance as planning progressed. The operation directive of 10 November in which Hitler ordered that the concentration period be ended by the 27th clearly referred to


[1] The numerous postponements of the German 1940 offensive in the west were, for the most part, the result of Hitler s injunction that the attack be made in good flying weather.