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had reached out to the Atlantic and the Caucasus, the Sahara, and the Arctic Circle. On the other hand, a decade after the close of World War II, still living members of the higher German commands would classify the Wehrmacht of late 1944 as a "paper tiger." The history of the Ardennes Campaign, as recounted in the present volume, shows that neither one of these extremes was true. Probably the American war correspondent, Drew Middleton, most closely approximated the truth when, in the first days of the Ardennes battle, he characterized the offensive as "the Indian summer" of German military might.


In the long view of history the decision to attack in the Ardennes represents only another-and risky-attempt to solve the old German dilemma of fighting a major war on two fronts. Hitler deliberately assumed the risk involved in weakening the Eastern Front so that a powerful blow could be struck in the west. When, on 14 December, he told his generals that German industry had been preparing for the Ardennes offensive for months, he meant this quite literally. Of the total production of armored fighting vehicles which came out of German assembly plants in November and December 1944, the Western Front received 2,277 while only 919 went to the East. As late as 5 January 1945 all the German armies on the Eastern Front possessed only twothirds the number of panzers employed in the Ardennes. Equally important, of course, was Hitler's decision on 20 November to shift the Luftwaffe fighter strength to the Western Front. This diversion of materiel to the west (which began as early as September and included artillery, Werfers, tractors, machine guns, and many other items) was accompanied by a reallocation of military manpower. On 1 December 1944, the total number of combat effectives under OB WEST command was 416,713, and one month later 1,322,561 effectives were carried on the OB WEST rosters. [13]


There seems to have been an early recognition on the part of the higher German theater commanders that Hitler's "intuition" had led to a mistaken choice between operations on the two major fronts. General Westphal later alleged that Rundstedt personally addressed himself to the Fuehrer on 22 December with a plea that the Ardennes offensive be brought to a halt in order to reinforce the Eastern Front. [14]


Guderian, directly charged with operations against the Russians, used the occasion of official visits on Christmas Eve and New Year's Day to petition Hitler for the movement of troops from the west to the east. It is said that at the end of December, in the Ardennes headquarters, "everybody looked with dismay to the east where the big Russian offensive was about to begin any day." [15] Hitler stubbornly refused to accede to all these requests, even after the Allied counterattack on 3 January began to collapse the German salient. Inexplicably he waited until 8 January to start the Sixth Panzer Army moving for the east-this only four days before the commencement of the Russian winter offensive.


The proximity in time of the German Ardennes offensive and the wholesale [13] OKH: Org. Abt. KTB; see also Schramm, Merkbuch.


[14] Heer In Fesseln, p. 283.


[15] MS # A-874 (Waldenburg).