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Entering Germany 1944

Article about: 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

  1. #31

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    Hey Alex,

    Im loving your work it brings back so many great memories of visits Ive made to the same places. I thought I'd post this picture of the end wall of a building that stands near to the Hurtgen Church.
    You can see this is a small bit of the original village that survived the battles, it exhibits plenty of history from that turbulent time being covered in shrapnel and bullet hits. Its well worth a look next time you go back.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Looking forward to your next post.
    Best Wishes

  2. #32

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    Even though most of the Village has been rebuilt since the war, there are a couple of sites around the Village that should also be shown.

    The first is probably one of the most iconic photographs taken of the battle. With the awful freezing weather endured by both sides during the battle, the thought of getting into a building and undercover to escape the dank dark forest was first priority for all when ever an opportunity arose.
    This farmhouse no 89 Hohenstrasse stood just inside the Village in the direction of attack the used by the US forces. It was very quickly occupied, you can see it suffered from all the shelling but remained standing. To be taken over by the Headquarters Company of the 121st Infantry who perhaps as a joke or for the photograpers benefit hung the hand written sign 'The Hurtgen Hotel' on the gable end.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The building survived the war being repaired and lived in by the Village Mayor, but was later sadly demolished, from memory I think in the 1990's or perhaps even early 2000's. The former plot is now empty and grassed over, as you can see by the picture below.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The next picture was taken just in front of the Church on the corner onto the main street. This building was originally a farm boasting a large barn, the picture shows two Sherman tanks from the 8th Divisions 709th Tank Battalion. The tank closest to the photographer was knocked out during the fighting probably by artillery fire and the other reversed into the barn building seeking protection.

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    Now the next one I was pleased to get.
    It's good to still be able to find a place in a Village so badly damaged during the war where a good 'Then and Now' photo match can still be made. The farm buildings are now used by the Forestry Office.

    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture 1.jpg  

  3. #33

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    and the last of my pictures of Hurtgen.

    Hurtgen has now been captured, so the 121st Infantry wearily trudge off up the main street to advance toward Kleinhau just 2km up the road. This is the beginning of the attack to eventually capture the Brandenberg-Bergstein Ridge. You can see the state of the village after the fighting, but here and there small parts survived and were incorporated into the post war rebuilds.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The same spot in the Summer of 2009.

    Alex I hope you dont mind me including these pictures on your tour thread, They seemed appropriate to post now as you'd got to the village in your amazing tour.
    Best Wishes.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture 6.jpg  

  4. #34

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    No Lucky, I am very happy with this additional photos of yours. Because I had only
    three days on this weekend I had not the time to look for all details.

    Here we go on with day II:

    We drove through Vossenack in the direction to Lammersdorf. There is a curve to the right in this main-street, where a little road goes down left to Simonskall.

    We took this way and parked on a littke parking place in the wood.
    On our left side is the famous Ochsenkopf and on our right side lays the Peterberg.

    The Ochsenkopf is not a big hill, only an elevation on the ridge to Vossenack, but it was a strategic place blocking the way to Vossenack and down to Simonskall.
    Here the 272. Volksgrenadier Div. fought against the americans.

    Up to the hill our march passes the foxholes of the GIs who tried to kill the bunkers on top

    Here one of the personally tragedys happened 1944

    Here you can see the place of recovery of an american soldier which was missed in action since Nov. 1944 and found by Steiners collegues 60 years later

    Four men of an american patrol had to recon this bunker, in our days only a destroyed piece of beton under dense bushes

    None of these men were ever seen, all are missed, and just this man with a german
    name had been found, and the others???? Perhaps wounded, captured by the germans, than transported and dying on transport??? One of the puzzles of Hürtgenwald

    Here you can see the view of the american Spähtrupp going up through the wood up to the bunker on the right side above

    and this was the foxhole the dog tag of the one soldier was found

    The poor american soldier with the german name Walter Reuter

    Than we made our way to the slope of the Ochsenkopf down to Simonskall

    There was this big Bunker overlooking the valley of the Kall-river

    still with his original green camouflage-painting after all this years

    A look over the Kall-valley from Ochsenkopf to the famous hill called the Buhlert

    Afterwards we stepped back to our parking place and went up the Peterberg, just a hill blocking the road to Lammersdorf and the Raffelsbrand Höhenweg.

    Over all the foxholes of the 60. american Inf.Div.

    Not far up the way to the hill a common grave of two american GIs and a german soldier buried together in 1944 and found 1976

    In 1976 the two Americans Francis Dempfle and Richard Quick have been found
    killed obviously together with a German soldier who could not be identified. The
    two Americans could be identified by their ID tags. They had been brought back
    home to the United States. The German soldier stayed unidentified and
    has been buried in Vossenack. It can be assumed by the date of their death as to
    which squad the two Americans belonged.

    And a few meters away the memorial stone of Peter Cahow found in the year 2000

    Here his original place, where his body was found

    In the direct vicinity of a.m. stone, hardly 100 metres further, Robert Cahow has
    been found and recovered by a clearance troup of war materials after 56 years. He
    had been missed since Dec. 13, 1944. He fought in the K Co of the 311. Inf. Reg.
    of the 78. Div. He lived to be 28 years old. Since September the Americans fought
    at this place in order to obtain access to the dams of the Rur River, which they did
    not reach until February 1945. The 78. Inf. Div. did not yet have combat experience.
    It was their first operation. Their 311. Reg. was attached to the 8. US Inf. Div. and
    they had been assigned the section at the "Ochsenkopf". The 8. Div. was the relieving
    squad of the worn out 28. Inf. Div., who had already made their sad experience on
    the All Souls Day battle in Nov. 1944. Before that date the 9. Inf. Div.already
    fought in this region at the end of September and in October.

    In June 2004 a commemoration has been held in memory of the fallen Robert Cahow
    and of the sad circumstances of his death. Participants were an astonishing high number
    of local residents, political and local officials, the historical society, military representatives
    from several Nations and in the first place family members of Robert Cahow.
    The Memorial Plaque, set up by the Family of R.Cahow, has been unveiled on this occasion. The plaque is inscribed in English and German.
    During the ceremony it has been mentioned that there are still 190 American soldiers still
    missing in the former battlefields of the Hürtgen forest.
    The place where the soldier was discovered is located easily visible close to the forest path
    and following an old tradition visitors place a rock there. In the meantime a considerably high grave mound of rocks has grown there. Further details are given on a board on the little cross.

    Born 1916, died 1944 and found in 2000, what a fate for this man

    when Cahoo was a lucky man

    And on the Peterberg overall remains of the big Bunkers

    On our way back to Lammersdorf we visited a part of the forest just 100Meters on the left side of the main-road, because we want to visit one of the curious bunkers of Hürtgen:

    This was not a combat-Bunker, but a water-reservoir in the woods to supply the troops
    with fresh water

    Nearby when I sat down on the forestfloor for a little rest, I felt something hard under my so called Popo, but it was a very strange kind of truffle

    and Bruno Mars song with the part catch a grenade for you, had a new meaning for me!

    Last edited by WeyAx; 08-16-2011 at 02:35 PM.

  5. #35

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    great pics !!!


  6. #36

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    Thank you Matt!!!

    Entering our staff-car we drove in the direction to
    Simonskall and Strauch, because the next target of us was the famous Buhlert.

    Five big Bunkers lay in this huge forest, they are not destroyed and the Buhlert
    was hold by the units of the 272. Volksgrenadierdivision just on to the 5. Februar 1945.

    We parked between Strauch and Schmidt and started our long walk for 4 kilometers through the woods.

    Overall big Bunkers not easily to find between the trees and growing grass:

    It takes us several hours to find and examine the Bunkers, inclusive the march back it costs us 4 hours in the dark and rainy forest.

    But what lucky guys we are:

    We found a silver bracelet of an GI who survived Normandie-landings, the pocket of Falaise and marched through Paris and bought a bracelet in an souvenier-shop there. That he losts in the dark forest in 1944:

    The emaille-signs hanging on the bracelet looks like new, you can easily recognize the Eiffel-Tower on it!!!!

    Other stuff lay around too:

    After our march back to the car, we visited the Drachen-Zähne:

    and back over Zweifall and his road protection guards

    we reached Vossenack and had a little evening-candle-light-dinner in the famous

    but the day has not found his end, after our meal we felt new force in our muscles and we decided to climb the famous Burgberg in the evening.

    In November/Dezember 1944 here the 'Battle of Hill 400 took place.

    The staff of Grenadier-Regiments 1055 of the 89. Infanterie-Division and the II. Bataillon of the Grenadier-Regiments 980 belonging to the 272. Volksgrenadier-Division lay on and in the environment of this important hilll.
    The US-Offensive against the Rur started on 1. Dezember 1944 with parts of the 8. US-Infanterie-Division and with tank-supporting the little village Bergstein was occupied on 5. Dezember.
    The fightings up on to the 400m high Burgberg endet after heavy losses on 7. Dezember with the occupation of the Beob.-Bunker on top of the Burgberg with the force of the american 2. Ranger-Btl.

    The Burgberg and his modern observation-tower

    memory crosses for killed german guys killed after the war

    Memorial stone for Alwin Hoven
    If you follow the circuit path clockwise, leading around the bottom of the "Burgberg" in Bergstein you will find a large sand stone on the left hand side of the path which has been erected in memory of Alwin Hoven, who has been killed by a mine. The inscription also reminds of all residents of Bergstein who had lost their lives in the war from 1944 until1954. It is not mentioned on this plaque that the victims were children who had been killed there in Nov. 1945. 8-year-old Günther Braun, 8-year-old Alwin Hoven and the just
    6 year-old Günther Jansen had gone to the Burgberg in order to look for pine cones.
    Unfortunately they stepped on one of the wires which had been insidiously connected to
    mines and thus caused an explosion which was fatal for them. Paul Braun only lived for
    another few hours and died on the way to the hospital. Alwin Hoven had been seriously
    injured and died a few months later in the hospital. Günther Jansen survived with serious

    cross in memory of a ranger found in 1980

    The famous old observation-bunker on top of the hill which leds the german artillery of Hürtgenwald

    growth of vegetation today is holding this Bunker

    near the feet of the Burgberg this big Bunker is laying

    driving back to Vossenack day II ended after 13 hours excursions

    Last edited by WeyAx; 08-16-2011 at 12:22 PM.

  7. #37

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    Ooooh good ! Glad that you dig some! That place was basically screaming to me : METAL DETECTING !!!


  8. #38

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    More great work Alex and LS really enjoying this thrwead and it's always good to see some of the MIA that have been found and returned home , a good way to actually remember the location they were found as well !!


    The gates of hell were opened and we accepted the invitation to enter" 26/880 Lance Sgt, Edward Dyke. 26th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers , ( 3rd Tyneside Irish )

    1st July 1916

    Thought shall be the harder , heart the keener,
    Courage the greater as our strength faileth.
    Here lies our leader ,in the dust of his greatness.
    Who leaves him now , be damned forever.
    We who are old now shall not leave this Battle,
    But lie at his feet , in the dust with our leader

    House Carles at the Battle of Hastings

  9. #39

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    Yes Paul and Matt, the Hürtgenwald-Seekers from the Heimatverein Hürtgen often
    discovered dead soldiers in the last 30 years and such seeking is good for publicity
    even in germany.

    Here some pics of the viewing down the Burgberg on to the Rurreservoir:

    Although the rangers took the Burgberg out of german hands, but the german Pioneers blowed up the letoff pipes of the reservoir and floaded the whole valley


  10. #40

    Default Re: Entering Germany 1944

    Day III

    The last morning in Hürtgen began after a very cold and rainy night.

    I woke up early and started in a new adventure, because a large bike tour was on my plan.

    I wanted to visit the Raffelsbrand area.

    In our days we can see Siedlung Raffelsbrand which was build in 1952/1953. The damaged forest of Raffelsbrand area wasn't totally new planted after the war,
    they built up a group of 31 Farms with 15 ha farmland each and a new Volksschule with an appartment for teachers.

    But in 1944 there was a big wood on both sides of the main-street betwenn Lammersdorf and Düren.

    Here the US Btl. I./39 und I./60 tried to get from Zweifall and Lammersdorf through the Siegfried-Line to take the main-street, the famous Verbindungsstraße to Düren (B399) and this particular crossing with the smaller road L 160 near Raffelsbrand was called „Raffelsbrand Junction“ from the Americans.

    And from this point to drive to Hürtgen it takes you 10 minutes but in 1944 it needs the period from 20.9.–16.10.´44 and costs many losses on both sides.


    In the woods of the right side a dead german soldier was found in early 2010.

    Today a remember-cross stands on this place:

    But my first aim on this mornig should be the woods near new Siedlung Raffelsbrand and the Höhenschneise going down to the Wehe-Reservoir:

    on this map you can see Raffelsbrand-junction at the bottom(little circle)
    and the new Siedlung Raffelsbrand in the middle(rectangle) and my aim 5 point crossing(big circle) and the Wehe-Reservoir painted in blue.

    I parked my car by a farm in Raffelsbrand and biked on the Höhenschneise, thats a forest-road straight down for 10-15 Km to the Wehe-Reservoir:

    and in 1944 it looks like this:

    but unfortunatly the germans were still in the woods:

    and they made it a long, long way to get up from the Reservoir to the Raffelsbrand-junction.

    5-point-crossing was a uncomfortable place in those days and even today there a
    so many foxholes besides the roads that the deers have to pay attention when the mist lays over the wood.

    The road went steadily down to the Wehebachtal, to go down by bike its easy, but in my head always was the way back

    Near the Wehe you can find the famous Mc-Arthur tree:

    This tree has a carving of the first American in Hürtgenwald. He belongs to the
    1.Btl. of the 39.US.Inf.Reg. of the 9.US.Inf.Div. The commander Oberst Thompson, started on 19. Sept. 1944 with his guys out of Zweifall to get to Hürtgen and Kleinhau. There he should controle the main-road to Düren.

    This tree charts the first recon point the Americans reached the Hürtgenwald.

    Now I turned my bike and began the torment of getting up again to Raffelsbrand.

    It takes me over 2 hours to get up, but near the farms of Raffelsbrand a new discovery recompenses the exhausting trip:

    There stood a nice weekend-hut:

    An Reichs-Arbeitsdienst-Baracke, these barracks were used as houses for the
    workers which built up the Westwall-Bunkers in the pre-war-times.

    Nice to see, that such things survive the times.

    It was high-noon when I reached Moritz and I had to hurry, because I liked to visite the
    museum in Vossenack which opens on Sundays only.

    Pictures can follow if you want and show interests!

    Last edited by WeyAx; 08-17-2011 at 11:04 AM.

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