Thank you Paul, here we go.
Why my first Stop in Vossenack????????? It was one of the most tortured villages in the Hürtgenwald, changed several times between germans and americans, even in the church the battle was fought:
The "Sühnekirche" St. Josef in Vossenack
Every church in Hürtgenwald was completely destroyed except the "Bergsteiner Kirche". It had suffered a lot of damage as well, notably holes from bullets aimed at the "Herz-Jesu-
-Statue". Grenades entering through the exterior walls and windows had exploded inside. But the tower and the main part were still standing. Everything was reduced to rubble in Gey, Grosshau and Hürtgen, as well as in Vossenack. But there was proof here of been one-on-one fighting inside the church. Battles so close, the opponents are eye to eye and are determined to kill each other, in order to survive. It did not appear to be that bad in the other churches. But, who knows. The inhumanity is a deconsecrating of the Houses of The Lord in any case.
In November 1986 the Church paper reports that, in the Bistum of Aachen, this is the only known case of defilement of a church during the war. This is the reason for the special Worship of the Mother Mary, which began in 1954/55.
Helga Höppner und Karin Bleckert: Geschichte der Gemeinde Hürtgenwald
And from here the Americans tried to march to Kommerscheid and Schmidt down by the Kall-Valley to get to the Rur-Reservoirs.
Here a short story copied out of the village-history of Vossenack:
The 3rd U.S. Armored Division is given the mission to attack south of Aachen. The American troops call this relatively open, armor-favorable terrain the "Stolberg Corridor." Even though this terrain favors the advance of major mechanized forces, the 3rd Armored Division's advance progresses slowly.
On the German side, the LXXIV (74th) Army Corps tries to consolidate and hold to the largest possible degree the front line in the Aachen sector in order to exploit the Siegfried Line and its favorable terrain for defense. The wooded terrain offers the defender the opportunity to reduce the effects of the American air, armor and artillery superiority. From 16 September 1944 on, the 12th German Infantry Division brought up from the east is employed in the counterattack on Aachen. Elements of the 353rd German Infantry Division occupy the Siegfried Lines defenses in the Huertgen Forest, while elements of the 89th Infantry Division transition to defense in the area of Monschau. At this time, the German forces' 239 tanks and self-propelled assault guns are confronted by at least 2,300 enemy tanks, that is, a ten-time American superiority.
FIRST ATTACK ON SCHMIDT: OCTOBER 1944
Having rejected the Allies' air assault operation at Arnheim (Operation Market Garden), the Germans focus their attention on preventing an Allied breakthrough to the Rhine River by reinforcing their front line troops in the Eifel low-mountain region and on securing the deployment area for the Battle of the Bulge which is in the initial planning stage.
The 275th German Infantry Division is opposed by the 9th U.S. Infantry Division, whose mission is to take the plateau around Schmidt to secure the VII U.S. Corps' right flank. Further right flank protection affords the upper course of the Roer River. After the seizure of Schmidt, the German forces putting up a Siegfried Line-backed stubborn defense in the Monschau Corridor are to be attacked from the rear and eliminated.
Following concentrated artillery fire on the entire width and depth of the battlefield, the U.S. infantry battalions launch their attack on 6 October 1944 at 1130 hours. The attacking infantry suffers severe casulties from tree bursts, while the Germans are protected in their field positions. On 7 October 1944, one battalion of the 60th Infantry Regiment loses about 100 men through tree bursts, even though it is not employed on the front line. The fighting in the forest yields very few targets that can be allocated to U.S. artillery and Air Force. As both U.S. infantry regiments have available one avenue of attack only which is interrupted by enemy mines and abatis, neither tanks nor self-propelled guns can support the attacking infantry. Elements of the 39th Infantry Regiment succeed in penetrating into the German positions west of Germeter and eliminating several pillboxes.
The heavy fighting lasts through 16 October 1944 when the units on both sides are so depleted that combat action dies down. The results of this fighting are as follows: the U.S. territorial gains amount to about 1.7 miles, with the terminus being Germeter; Schmidt remains in German hands; the U.S. casualties of about 4,500, the German casualties of about 3,200 men.
At the end of October 1944, responsibility for the Huertgen Forest sector is assigned the V U.S. Corps. On 26 October 1944, the 28th U.S. Infantry Division takes over the sector of the battle-weary 9th U.S. Infantry Division. The Germans have no choice but to leave their 275th Infantry Division -- despite its heavy losses -- in position.
SECOND ATTACK ON SCHMIDT: NOVEMBER 1944
The reinforced 28th U.S. Infantry Division is given the mission to secure the Vosse-nack/Schmidt/Lammersdorf area and to attack the German troops in the Monschau Corridor from the rear. H-hour will be 0900 hours on 2 November 1944, which is All Souls' Day. Therefore, the Germans will later come to refer to this battle as the "All Souls' Day Battle."
Prior to the attack on Schmidt, the front line runs along the Huertgen - Germeter -Rollesbroich road and from Germeter through the Richelskaul Creek close to Raffelsbrand. The ridges around Vossenack, Brandenberg, Huertgen, Kommerscheidt and Schmidt, partly covered with thick forest, are commanding heights. Their seizure requires air and artillery support. The weather and the forests, however, do not allow either air reconnaissance or air support. Artillery units are deployed in the Zweifall/ Roetgen area.
When the 28th Infantry Division enters the sector on 26 October 1944, the troops find themselves in a damp, thick forest -- a forest as it is eternalized in old German fairy tales. In addition, they come across disabled supply vehicles, trees destroyed by grenades, mines forgotten along the poor, dirty roads and trails as well as hundreds of grenade craters.
While various signs indicate an American attack, the Germans know neither its beginning nor its direction.
According to the American plan of operations, an artillery barrage is to precede the attack 60 minutes before H-hour. The 112th Infantry Regiment is to take Kommerscheidt, Schmidt and Vossenack; defense of the latter village is to secure the regiment's northern flank. The main direction of attack is to be through the Richelskaul Creek already secured and the Kall Creek toward Kommerscheidt and finally Schmidt. The infantry is to be accompanied by medium tanks and antitank weapons. Prior to the attack, however, own minefields emplaced along the roads east of Germeter have to be cleared.
At 0800 hours on 2 November 1944, American artillery opens the fire. One hour later, the first infantry companies leave their positions in Germeter, protected by tanks.
On 8 November 1944, the American troops break off combat action. Under cover of darkness, the remnants of the 112th Infantry Regiment are extracted: 300 out of formerly 2,200 men. From its effective strength of about 25,000, the 28th Infantry Division loses more than 6,000 men. After the 9th Infantry Division, the 28 Infantry Division is thus the second major American unit worn out in the November 1944 Huertgen Forest battles
That histories impressed me very much and I decided to go the famous Kall-Trail with my own feets.
Near the church of Vossenack I drove my Moritz down the field-road that takes its direction to the Kall-Valley:
The iron-shell-cross made from the village-people after the war remembers me impressivly what kind of trail it was
nearly 70 years ago
Cross made of shrapnel (in Vossenack on the right hand side of the
This is the last cross put up, which is to be brought in connection with the events of
the 2. World War in Hürtgenwald. Right here at its site starts the so-called Kalltrail.
The term has been used by the Americans and has been adopted from them.
On Nov. 3, 1944 the soldiers of the 112. US Inf. Reg. of the 28. Inf. Div. started from
there and on through the valley of the Kall River their fatal and unsuccessful attack
of Kommerscheidt and Schmidt.
Helga Höppner und Karin Bleckert
I parked my command-car Moritz after the last houses of Vossenack,
it was a cold, rainy and cloudy day, not a summerday but even a November-day like in the year 1944.
Our Summer in germany this year is very, very bad and it brings the right feeling for my walk.
I took my bike with me(not the best idea for beginning the trail)
Here the beginning of the trail through the fields, in the background on the hill Kommerscheid and Schmidt,
seems you can grab it with the hand and not far away...........the same opinion made the american leadership....
there is a steep valley between Vossenack and Schmidt
and here you can get an impression how big it is
The Kall-Trail soon goes down the valley
A first remembering-cross reminds us that this is not an usual mountain-bike-trail
Soon the trail is very steep and narrow.
I had to leave my saddle, the trail was very wet and it was not possible to ride it down, because it is too steep and the
leaves of the trees fallen down on to the trail made it very slippery
First fox-holes and little trenches were still easy to see in the wood.
The americans here had a first aid-station not far from the beginning of the trail.
The small path is winding down the valley and I had to go it step by step with my bike besides me.
Worse thing that the trails bottom is a very slippery Devon-Slate, when its wet, it is like an icy road.
The trail also is winding around some big rocks, here it is not wider than 2 meters
Looking down the steep side of the trail down to the ground of the valley.
At least I reached the ground of the Kall-Trail with the sign to the famous Mestrenger-Mill
After nearly 2 hours I reached the bottom of the Kall-Valley. Sure some time I spent with examinations in the fox-holes, but I made my walk without enemys around me.
The Americans had the same difficulties as I with my bike, but they did not try it by bike,
but with tanks, weasels and jeeps.
That was a very bad decision, to take this narrow, steep and slippery trail to get to the
Mestrenger Mill and the Kall-Bridge.
No Spähtrupp was sent first to recon the trail and the desaster happens:
The first Shermans and M10 were shot by german artillery just in the beginning of the
The german artillery was very good positioned on the so called Teufels-Ley just on the other side of the Trail and was led by the artillery-posts on the famous Burgberg, the highest mountain overlooking the Kall-Valley
More Tanks slipped down trying to get around the rocks by the winding steep trail
The americans had to make her way down step by step without heavy weapons
And it was a very exhausting trail not even in those days
many rests and
helping hands were needful
and it was a bloody march down
and the Sani-Foxhole-Bunker in the wood at the beginning of the trail was filling very fast
Many americans even easylier wounded died here in this big hole because they could not brought back further in an