On December 16, 1944, Hitler and the German forces initiated the largest offensive of World War II on the Western front. The success of the initial attack allowed the Germans to penetrate into the Allied held territory in Belgium, France, and Luxembourg, creating a significant bulge in the line. The Allies were caught almost completely by surprise making the first few days of the offensive the most dangerous and uncertain. Ultimately, the Germans were unable to advance past the village of Bastogne where Allied forces, including the 101st Airborne division, held the line long enough for reinforcements to arrive.
The first eight days, known as the Siege of Bastogne, was the most crucial defense to prevent the Germans from capturing vital transportation lines and cutting off Allied supply routes. The Battle of the Bulge raged until January 25, 1945 finally concluding the largest and deadliest battle fought by US forces during the war. Had Bastogne been seized and the offensive succeeded, the war and history today would be drastically different.
What was it like behind the lines? What did the soldiers think when they realized what was happening? Did they even know? What might they say if they thought the end was near? There are hundreds of books written about World War II and a comparable number written on the Battle of the Bulge but how would a personal account compare to published history? This project will be an attempt to answer those questions by allowing one personal perspective to speak for itself.
This website was created by Stephanie Johnson (Schmeling) for completion of a Master’s degree in Archives from New York University Graduate School of Arts and Science, May 2011. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York and is the Head of Cataloging and Archives at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. This website is dedicated to her grandfather, William H. Hale, a quiet man with a strong heart and a genuine spirit.
Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org