Battle of the Bulge began December 22, 1944

battle of the bulgeAmerican Minute with Bill Federer

The Battle of the Bulge was the largest and bloodiest battle during World War II on Europe’s western front, with casualties of 81,000 Americans and 100,000 Germans.

It began on December 16, 1944 when National Socialist Workers Party amassed three armies, consisting of 13 divisions, for an enormous surprise attack against the Allies in the Ardennes Forest.

Being caught off-guard, the Allies were hard-pressed to keep their lines from breaking.

General Eisenhower stated in his order, DECEMBER 22, 1944:

“By rushing out from his fixed defenses the enemy may give us the chance to turn his great gamble into his worst defeat.

So I call upon every man, of all the Allies, to rise now to new heights of courage…with unshakable faith in the cause for which we fight, we will, with God’s help, go forward to our greatest victory.”

Bastogne was a town in Southern Belgium of immense strategic importance as eight roads crossed there.

Six Nazi Panzer divisions were on a mad rush to occupy it, but the night before, in sub-zero temperature, 15,000 American troops of the 101st Airborne were trucked in to hold it.

The German commander Heinrich Freiherr von Luttwitz demanded surrender:

“To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne. The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river Our near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.

There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.

If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours term.

All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well-known American humanity. -The German Commander.”

On DECEMBER 22, 1944, U.S. Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe answered:

“To the German Commander.
-The American Commander.”

This unusual response caused the Nazi commander to hesitate.

Then the Nazis attacked – over 50,000 Nazis assaulted the Americans.

After eight days, the Americans were nearly out of ammunition.

Marching to their rescue was General George Patton and the U.S. Third Army, but they were pinned down due to bad weather preventing planes from flying to give air cover.

General Patton directed Chaplain Fr. James O’Neill to compose a prayer, which was printed on cards and distributed to the 250,000 troops to pray:

“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle.

Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.”

The reverse of the card had General Patton’s Christmas Greeting:

“To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I wish a Merry Christmas. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We march in our might to complete victory.

May God’s blessings rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day.- G.S. Patton, Jr., Lieutenant General Commanding, Third United States Army.”

Miraculously, the weather cleared, the planes gave air support and General Patton’s troops punched through the Nazi lines to rescue the exhausted 101st Airborne and thwart the Nazi advance.

The Battle of the Bulge ended January 16, 1945, and less than four months later Hitler committed suicide and the National Socialist Workers Party surrendered.

A popular Christmas carol during World War II was “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” written in 1942 by Irving Berlin.

Irving Berlin was born in Russia, the son of a Jewish rabbi who immigrated with his family to America.

Irving Berlin served in the U.S. infantry during World War I and wrote some of the country’s most popular songs, including: “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” and “God Bless America.”

“I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” became so popular that it was featured in the 1954 movie White Christmas, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney, aunt of actor George Clooney.

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten,
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.”

On CHRISTMAS EVE, December 24, 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt had told the American people:

“It is not easy to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to you, my fellow Americans, in this time of destructive war…

We will celebrate this Christmas Day in our traditional American way…because the teachings of Christ are fundamental in our lives…the story of the coming of the immortal Prince of Peace.”

Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.

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