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then reaching a climax in the Aachen and Saverne Gap sectors. [3]


The cover and deception plan, personally devised by Hitler, turned on a half-truth. A part of the strategic concentration would be made in the Rheydt-Julich-Cologne area east of Aachen. Here the preparations for the counteroffensive would be paraded before the Allies. To the south, at the entry to the chosen path of attack, the Eifel concentration was to be accomplished under conditions of greatest secrecy behind the thin line manned by the weak Seventh Army. Then, at the last moment, the troops from the northern concentration area would slip south to join the main build-up in the Eifel. The cover plan, as propagated through the German commands on the Western Front and retailed to the Allies by neutrals and double-agents, had this scenario: Germany feared that the U.S. First and Ninth Armies would achieve a real breakthrough and drive to the Rhine in the sector between Cologne and Bonn; in preparation for this untoward event the Fuehrer was amassing a major counterattack force northwest of Cologne; a secondary and relatively small force of burnedout divisions was being gathered in the Eifel to contain the right flank of the expected Allied penetration. [4]


The main actor in this play was the Sixth Panzer Army. Ostensibly its headquarters remained northwest of Cologne. Four of the armored divisions actually assigned to this headquarters also assembled in this area. The intensification of rail and road traffic which began here about mid-November was only partly concealed. Much movement was made in daylight. A program of road repair and civilian evacuation was begun with little attempt at camouflage. Radio traffic was increased commensurate with the troop concentration. Additional antiaircraft battalions came into the area and with them special allotments of ammunition to produce a thickening of fire which the Allied air forces could not possibly fail to notice. To emphasize further still what was transpiring here in the north, a ghost army was brought into being on 20 November; this, the Twenty-fifth, supposedly had an order of battle of ten divisions including some of the panzer divisions which in fact belonged to the Sixth Panzer Army.


In contrast to this northern concentration, that in the Eifel was the product of secrecy carried to the limit. The Eifel terrain was well adapted to concealment. Thick forest cover cloaked its slopes, its valleys and plateaus. Small villages, singly not worthy of aerial investigation but in sum capable of harboring large forces, offered excellent dispersal. Camouflage had become second nature with the German soldier in the west-indeed since Normandy the art of camouflage had become the science of survival, and the Eifel made this task relatively easy. Strict traffic regulation confined all rail movements and road marches to hours of darkness. Special security detachments prowled the Eifel, and woe to the commander who allowed a vehicle park to grow beyond normal size. A radio blackout was thrown over the concentration area except for those units actually facing the enemy in the covering positions. No artillery registration was permitted except by guns in the line, and even they


[3] Cole, The Lorraine Campaign, pp. 510-12.


[4] The detailed deception scenario is given by Maj. Percy Schramm, then historian at OKW headquarters, in MS #A-862.