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Task: The Siege of Bastogne as portrayed in the film Battleground

Article about: Hi! I'm from Germany and for school I have to write a task about the topic: "The siege of Bastogne as portrayed in the film "Battleground"" I have to hand it in on januar

  1. #1

    Default Task: The Siege of Bastogne as portrayed in the film Battleground


    I'm from Germany and for school I have to write a task about the topic: "The siege of Bastogne as portrayed in the film "Battleground""

    I have to hand it in on january the 29th.
    I'll post what I have written so far. (The german situation)
    When I have done more, I'll pat it here as well.

    If you feel like reading it, you could tell me what you think of it.

    2. The Battle for Bastogne as portrayed in the film “Battleground”
    2.1. The siege of Bastogne Planning of the offensive

    The Battle for Bastogne is only a part of “The Ardennes Offensive” also known as “Battle of the Bulge” . The first time Adolf Hitler had an idea of a strong counteroffensive in the western front was on 31st of July 19441. But in 1944 Germany was already a destroyed country: It was politically friendless and it was military devastated (1200000 men were already dead, wounded or missing). So why did he think about an offensive? Was he an optimistic man and trusted in his own military genius? Has he lost touch with reality? Or was it his wish for him being unrelenting? In fact all points play a role2. Hitler’s staff suggested five different plans and Hitler synthesized them. The offensive should take place in the Ardennes, Belgium because it was found out that there were not many Allied troops in this area. There was also a propagandistic background: The assault should be reminiscent of the triumphal breakthrough in 1940 codenamed “Operation Sichelschnitt”. The plan was to attack with three armies: The 6th “SS-Panzer-Armee” as the spearhead near Malmédy, the 5th “Panzer-Armee” on their right to support them and the 7th army near Diekirch to defend the southern flank3. In the first phase the german forces had to reach the river Meuse, in the second phase they had to take Antwerp and its harbours to stop the shipping of supplies of the enemy. Hitler also hoped to aggravate the friction between the American and British commanders4. The codename was “Operation Wacht am Rhein” or “operation watch on the Rhine” German attack in the Ardennes

    During the first half of December 1944 the 250000 German soldiers had to approach the front secretly to surprise the enemy. In the daytime they stayed in the forests because they had to move onlay at night and without lights. Complete radio silence was ordered so communication was only possible by using messengers. In the morning of the 16th of December, the German forces attacked the totally surprised enemy. Although many divisions did not reach their aim, Hitler’s troops advanced fast, so the offensive was very successful at first. Luckily for the Germans the Allied air force could not be deployed because of bad weather conditions. Because of the hilly landscape and the sodden ground the tanks could not leave the roads, so for a fast advance Hitler knew that the 47th corps of the 5th armoured army under Hasso Eccard von Manteuffel had to capture the town Bastogne because there, seven important highways intersected. On the 19th two divisions attacked Bastogne from the east for the first time. But the roads were held by the US-forces so the advance froze. The Germans tried to encircle Bastogne by foot in order to attack it from the rear. In the night from the 20th to the 21st Bastogne was surrounded and the Americans trapped. On the 22nd Von Lüttwitz, commander of the 47th corps sent an ultimatum to surrender to the US-commander. His negative answer to it (I’ll come to that later) made the siege of Bastogne world-famous so it became a symbol for the military strength of both parties. So Hitler said that Bastogne was vital and more attacks were launched to take the town. On the 23rd the weather cleared so the allied air force could attack the Germans and the American isolated men in Bastogne received supplies. On the 26th the encirclement was broken in the south.
    “Operation watch on the Rhine” started to fail. The German troops in the Ardennes were running out of fuel and suffering heavy casualties. The farthest point they reached was near Dinant. So they did not even reach the Meuse. The strong enemy pushed them back and in the end of January the Germans stood at the same front lines as before the Ardennes-Offensive. View of SS-veteran Karl Kolb

    Karl Kolb was born in 1923 on the 11th of July in Kempten. He was in the Hitler Youth and after that he joined the “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler”. He became an officer in 1941 and in 1943 he joined the 12th “SS-Panzerdivision Hitlerjugend” which was part of the 6th SS-armoured army with Joseph Dietrich as commander. Karl Kolb served in Russia where he lost some of his toes and he fought in the defence of Caen in Normandy. In the time before the Ardennes-Offensive the division was not in combat. They received reinforcements and were reequipped. Although he had a leading position as an “Untersturmfüher” he did no know anything about the offensive before it was launched. He says that he can’t think of another plan that was more secret as operation watch on the Rhine. In the night of the 16th they had to attack. He and his comrades were very confident of beating the enemy and they hoped to throw them back into the sea. They advanced quickly and came pretty far. He said that some of the Americans were so surprised that some of them ran away in their underpants. They were in luck because their casualties were not too heavy. On January the 1st, his division attacked Bastogne from the north-east but Karl does not know anything about this attack anymore. It lasted only a few days (from 1st to 10th) and we have to consider the intermediate time. But he still remembers life in combat during the offensive: It was ice-cold, not everybody had adequate winter clothing, often they could not start fire because the enemy could see it, the ammunition was scarce and he did not have any contact to home. Mr. Kolb said that he was only thinking of surviving so he did not think about these dire circumstances. The operation failed because the Americans had organized the resistance more quickly as they had thought, he said.
    After the offensive he and his division had to move to Hungary for another offensive. On the 8th of May he had to surrender but he fled with three comrades. After three weeks they were caught and he was taken for prisoner. Two years later he was released.
    The conversation with him made me think a lot. I was impressed when he told me about situations in which he had a tremendous amount of luck.

    That was only the first part about the germans.
    I'll post the others parts soon.

    What do you think of it?
    Are there any language mistakes?
    Any ideas for improvement ?

    Thank you. Best wishes,

  2. #2

    Default Re: Task: The Siege of Bastogne as portrayed in the film Battleground

    hi os is Mr karl kolb still alive cheers dave.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Task: The Siege of Bastogne as portrayed in the film Battleground

    Oh yes he is. I talked last week with him.
    Did you find any spelling/grammatical mistakes?
    Any ideas for improvement?

    Best wishes,

  4. #4

    Default Re: Task: The Siege of Bastogne as portrayed in the film Battleground

    hi os its all very good i only saw one mistake from reading it again , you say no , and then know anything about the offensive .
    its important to get both sides of the story before these guys are no longer with us looking i was lucky enough to meet an ex german soldier who was decorated in normandy for attacking two tanks and was taken prisoner,
    and shortly after the war joined the british army looking forward to the rest of your blog, cheers dave.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Task: The Siege of Bastogne as portrayed in the film Battleground

    Hi.... Thank you. If you like, please read the next part.
    Please correct my syntax mistakes if there are some.
    Ignore the brackets and tese things.

    2.1.2. The situation of the American forces Defence

    In the months before the Ardennes Offensive the American GIs (=government issue) had a really unexcited time. They were not in combat and nobody expected it. But on December the 16th the soldiers woke up with horror because they were overwhelmed by German forces(Bast.HC). () Severe fighting was going on in which a lot of American units were eliminated and “more than 7000 GIs were taken for prisoner” (Kielich,2247). () Eisenhower realized that a grave offensive was launched and he ordered the movement of two armoured divisions to the Ardennes. The only reserves of the US Army were two Airborne (AB) divisions (div.): The well-known 101st and the 82nd (Milmeister,22). The 101st was in Camp Mourmelon, France near Reims. They had to recover from a hard campaign in Holland where they lost one third of their men (#3). The American Commanders knew that they had to keep Bastogne because it is an important intersection. So in the evening of the 18th of December the 101st AB div. was sent to Bastogne in order to hold it. They drove all night in their trucks, which is unusual for AB troops. In the morning, at nine o’clock general Anthony McAuliffe who was in command of the 101st had all four regiments in his hands in Bastogne (#1,308). From there they were sent to the surrounding villages to dig foxholes in the woods. On their way many distressed fugitives from the front were walking in the other direction. ()Two day later they were surrounded by Hitler’s troops. A hard time began for the soldiers: Nights were dreadfully cold, they had no appropriate clothes, nearly no means of medical aid and not much fuel. Nevertheless they had to defend Bastogne which was heavily damaged by German artillery fire. Unfortunately the air force was powerless because of the foul weather. The situation turned extremely serious for them. On the 22nd of December general McAuliffe received a demand to surrender from the German commander. His answer to it was:
    “To the German commander.
    The American commander.”
    (Arend,167) This answer became very famous. So famous that Bastogne became representative for the potency of the US Army. The effect was that the morale of the soldiers was boosted enormously. The 23rd was a turning point of the siege: The cloud cover disappeared and the famous C-47 planes of the air force dropped 244 tons of ammunition, food, weapons and medical supplies on the American sector (Kielich,2258). But the Americans were still surrounded and they had no chance to brake through the front and reach the other US troops. Counteroffensive

    At the end of December 1944 the Germans were pushed back in their westernmost area near Dinant. Eisenhower had given Montgomery the command of all the US troops north of the “Bulge” for a better coordination (Milmeister,43). The Germans were now attacked from the north by the British forces and from the south by the US Army, but nevertheless it was not easy to push the Nazis back. Since the 22nd, parts of the 4th armoured div. had been fighting in direction of Bastogne from Arlon (#4,171). On the 26th the first tank brakes through the German lines and arrives in Bastogne. Using the gap in the encirclement, the serious wounded had been evacuated (Arend,241). Later, the small corridor was widened by the 3rd Army of General Patton. The 101st AB div. has stood the frequent attacks of the enemy and they became famous as the “Battered Bastards of Bastogne. The Allied attacks on the northern and southern shoulder of the “Bulge” proceeded and Hitler’s troops were pushed back. In the end of January the battle was over (BHC). View of Airborne veteran Eugene Aune

    The acutely friendly man Eugene Aune answered many of my questions with fidelity. He also sent me a video-interview of him. In the following I’ll depict Eugene’s experiences during the siege of Bastogne.
    Eugene Aune was born in Minneapolis on the 16th of 1924. In 1943 he joined an Infantry div. and one year later he went to a paratrooper school. Although they had to follow advanced training they were not sent to Normandy in June 1944. After the invasion he joined a machine gun squad of the 1st Battalion (Bn.) of HQ Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st AB div.. They parachuted into Holland as part of the “Operation Market Garden”. They suffered heavy casualties. After that they were sent to Camp Mourmelon. The plan of the commander General Taylor was to send them back to the USA to recover. Life in Mourmelon was “pretty quiet”: The only thing they had to do were “exercises to keep in shape physically”. One night, when they were asleep they were told that there was a breakthrough and to get ready for combat. They drove all night until he and his Bn. were dropped off with their guns but without ammunition. Eugene did not have any gloves and heavy equipment either. When they asked where they were the answer was: Bastogne. They had to move to the outskirts of Bastogne when troops came back instead of moving to the front. It was very foggy which caused friendly fire repeatedly. Despite the humble amount of ammunition, food and weapons they “were able to hold on”. During the siege, most of the time he thought that he will not survive the battle.
    On the 22nd (Eugene could not remember the exact day), two hours after the answer of McAuliffe to the surrender ultimatum, the Germans launched an attack on his section which caused heavy casualties. But when the planes brought supplies and the encirclement was broken they were able to beat the grim enemy. In the middle of January he and his Bn. Were sent to Alsace-Lorraine. Later, Eugene liberated a Concentration Camp in Germany. He was totally horror-stricken and to him, that was the reason why he was fighting. After the war he was sent back to Mourmelon again.
    Compared to Karl Kolb, Eugene Aune speaks in a very mellow way about it all. I think that is because of him being the liberator or hero whereas Mr. Kolb was part of the evil party. The descriptions of the dire circumstances which Eugene had to deal with made me cherishing the life in peace and the wealth we may enjoy.

    I'll post the next part soon.

    Any ideas for improvement?

    Best wishes,

  6. #6

    Default Re: Task: The Siege of Bastogne as portrayed in the film Battleground

    Hi !

    Has anybody read it?
    Would be wonderful!

    Have a nice day!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Task: The Siege of Bastogne as portrayed in the film Battleground

    very good so far,,, would change "stood attacks" to "withstood" and "brakes" to "breaks" should be fine,,,

  8. #8

    Default Re: Task: The Siege of Bastogne as portrayed in the film Battleground

    Thank you very much.
    For me, it is very important to recieve your feedback. Thank you.
    Here's the next part.

    2.2.2. Unrealistic points General observations

    When I watched the film I noticed some unrealistic aspects which are not worth mentioning in an extra bullet. The first thing is the fact that the units in the film are fictional Companies. On the helmets of the soldiers you can see the clover with the “tic” on 9 o’clock. That means they are in the 3rd Bn. of the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR). In the 5th minute, “Hooper” and “Layton” tell each other that they belong to “I”- and “K”-Company. In fact there were no such Companies in the 3rd Bn. of the 327th GIR (#4). The next point is the constitution of the road leading to the place Neufchâteau in the south-west of Bastogne. It is true that there was a road with that name with a bridge crossing it in the sector of the 327th GIR. But when the German soldiers walk on it in the second half of minute 37, we can see the road leading through a forest as a little trail. Another unrealistic detail is the scene where leaflets are thrown from a plane [17:30]. These flyers only come down at one spot which is not authentic. Treatment of newcomers

    The next unrealistic point is the way the soldiers who have already seen combat together treat newcomers in their unit. In the beginning of the film Layton joins the 3rd Bn. as a replacement and he does his best to get acquainted with the group of men who had spent months of training and combat with each other, forming close bonds. Some of their friends were killed in action and suddenly there appears a boy as an alternate comrade [9:57]. Because of the fear of loosing another friend they don’t take any effort of forming a friendship till life in combat merges them automatically. Of course it is possible that this situation occurred in reality. But when I asked Eugene about it, his answer was:
    “Newcomers were always welcome as we always knew that our lives depended on each other, so we did our best to see that they became a part of our team.”
    Eugene himself was a replacement before Operation Market Garden was launched, and he was assimilated quickly. As Eugene’s assertion is my only source on this topic, I appraise this point as unrealistic. Landscape

    Another point is the landscape in the film. In fact, Bastogne is surrounded by gentle hills. Mostly, the countryside is conformable to the reality. But in several scenes or sequences, it is clearly too hilly for the Bastogne area. For example in the last scene when the 3rd Platoon marches off singing, the hills are much too rampant. Arrival of supplies

    There are two aspects in the film concerning the arrival of supplies and its consequences which are not accurate. Firstly they arrive too late. In reality, the clouds disappeared on the 23rd of December. On the same day, 241 planes could deliver 144 tons of supplies and on the 24th, another 100 tons were dropped (Kielich,2258). Thus, that was before Christmas. In the movie the soldiers receive it after the Christmas mass. The other aspect is the counteroffensive of the allied forces. In minute 106 we can see Germans loosing their lives and GIs fighting with levity. It seems like the Americans are immortal. But in reality, this counterattack was not a battle without casualties for the US-Army (BHC). Maybe Wellman exaggerated the glory of the counteroffensive on purpose to deliver the message: “all is well that ends well”. This discourse of the film gives the watcher the feeling that everything is over, which was essential for the people of the time. Duration of encirclement

    The fifth unrealistic point is that Wellman ignores totally the day-night-rhythm: In the beginning, the soldiers are woken up in the morning and drive during the day. The next night, they sleep at Denise’s and the next day, they finally have to move into the woods. In reality, the paratroopers had to drive during the night from the 18th to the 19th, and on the day of the 19th they dug their foxholes in the woods. If we count the nights in the whole film, we count maximum six nights. The movie starts in Mourmelon, one day before their departure, and it ends when reinforcements arrive in Bastogne. In reality there were eight nights in between (from 18th to 26th). So the battle for Bastogne in the film is two days and two nights too short. German soldiers in US uniforms behind enemy lines

    The last and most grave unrealistic point in the film is the fact that German men, dressed in GI-uniforms infiltrated the frontlines. In effect, there were German troops disguised as American forces, indeed. But that was part of the so called “Operation Greif” under the direction of Otto Skorzeny. English speaking Germans were selected and they had to accomplish special missions behind enemy lines, but that was near St.Vith and definitely not in the Bastogne area (#4,268). The 327th GIR was “warned to watch out for English speaking Germans, dressed in G.I. clothing, who, were infiltrating American lines to sabotage and terrorize.” (#5,28) But that was only a warning. The Germans did not plan to infiltrate Bastogne secretly. The fact that “the Germans were using American equipment, not to fool the enemy but because of own shortages […]” (Arend,133) contributes to the confusion of the US commanders. Mr Kolb stated that they used American material such as Jeeps and other vehicles. Also Mr Aune said that “there were stories of Germans being in US uniforms […] but none got into Bastogne […]”.
    These were the aspects that are historically correct, and in the following, I’ll disclose the most important realistic ones.

    Again: Any mistakes? Ideas for improvement?

    Best wishes,

  9. #9

    Default Re: Task: The Siege of Bastogne as portrayed in the film Battleground

    Hi !
    Would be enourmously awesome if anybody would read it and gibe me a reply.
    It very important for me.

    Best wishes,

  10. #10

    Default Re: Task: The Siege of Bastogne as portrayed in the film Battleground

    Should you mention the German codename for the offensive was 'Wacht am Rhein' so that if discovered by the Allies, it would sound like a defensive operation? Let's not forget that subterfuge was an important element of the Normandy landings and quite a few Russian offensives.

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