They were so young, and did so much," said a promotion for
the new World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. That applied to
nothing as much as the Battle of the Bulge, one of the pivotal clashes
of that historic struggle. As construction begins on the new memorial,
it is fitting to review events of the battle.
Every day, more and more veterans of the war are passing from the
scene, and memories of the great struggle also are fading. As a
history teacher, I recently asked my college-level students to write
a brief paper on the Battle of the Bulge. I was shocked to hear
that not one of my students–all at the college level–had
ever heard of the event.
So I gathered sources of research material for them. In doing so,
I was amazed at the truly significant books that recently have appeared.
In commemoration of the 56th anniversary of that great struggle–fought
in December 1944 and January 1945–and for the benefit of all
students of military history, I would like to share with readers
a list of excellent historical publications, to let you follow this
great military event, step by step.
Start with what is probably the most comprehensive book available–"Battle
of the Bulge: Then and Now," by Jean Paul Pallud, available
from RZM Imports.
Known to the Germans as Operation WACH AM RHEIN, the battle was
the last, great, offensive gasp in a war already perceived as lost.
It was perceived by some historians as an attempt by the German
leadership to split the allies, change the tide of war, and force
the alliance into "favorable negotiated terms," but it
Most Americans, who have read little of the battle, remember the
scenario in the movie "Patton," as the U.S. general turned
his army 90 degrees and relieved Bastogne. Fewer remember that British
Field Marshal Montgomery took credit for "saving the paralyzed
Americans’ skin," almost causing the allies to split
apart and declare war on the British.
Many of these forgotten details of history are well documented
in this excellent battle narrative. Included are lots of "before
and after" pictures and a masterful guide to the battle and
battlefield that allows you to see and understand the many small
battles that comprised this monumental military event.
A unique chapter in Pallud’s book includes an order-of-battle
(OOB) chart from original German records accompanied by large maps
of the battlefield, and military map symbols used by the German
A complete chapter focuses on German special operations. Operation
GREIF was run under the command of SS Obersturmbahnführer Otto
Skorzeny, Mussolini’s rescuer. Operation STÖSSER was
a German paratroop operation, the last of its type in World War
II, under the command of Oberst von der Heydte. Both operations
were under Skorzeny’s authority on special instructions from
Among the impressive details provided were the German general staff’s
operational planning, original German diagrams of the attack force
and orders for deception and secrecy. The story of the failure of
allied intelligence is carefully detailed.
Detailed maps cover every facet of the battle from the breakthrough,
the high tide, and beginning of the end.
An interesting feature is a list of Battle of the Bulge museums.
RZM is the source of the "After the Battle" series and
this excellent book. Available titles are listed at their Web site
www.rzm.com, or contact them at P.O. Box 995, Southbury, CT 06488.
Tel: (203) 264-0774. Fax: (203) 264-4967.
To broaden and balance your study, consider the following additional
Osprey’s "OOB" series is authored by Bruce Quarrie.
Each volume has battle photographs and a large foldout battle map,
breaking the battle into sectors and adversaries, to aid in following
battlefield events. The series includes:
From Osprey’s "Elite Series," consider "Elite
No. 11, Ardennes 1944: Peiper & Skorzeny," by Jean-Paul
Pallud, D. Parker & R. Volstead.
Osprey’s books–which include excellent maps and color
plates, plus coverage of day-by-day battle events–are now
available from MBI Publishing, Osceola, WI 54020-0001. Tel: (715)
294-3345. Fax: (715) 294-4448.
History has focused heavily on Skorzeny’s mission(s) and
influence on battle events. For that, I recommend "Green Devils:
German Paratroops: 1939-45," by Jean-Yves Nasse, from Histoire
& Collections and available from Combined Publishers. This well-illustrated
unit history includes additional details from the Battle of the
Bulge’s Operation STÖSSER. Combined Publishers are located
in Conshohocken, Pa. 19428. Tel: (610) 828-2595. Fax: (610) 828-2603.
Their Web site is www.combinedpublishing.com.
I recently reviewed a book (November 2000, p. 105) which expands
upon this unique German military unit: "German Paratroop: Uniforms,
Insignia & Equipment of the Fallschirmjäger in World War
II," by Robert Kurtz, Schiffer Publishing. It includes a detailed
and illustrated study, with full-color illustrations of equipment.
A more recent Schiffer publication greatly expands last November’s
coverage. "World War II Troop Type Parachutes: Axis (Germany,
Italy, Japan)," by Guy Richards adds excellent full-color technical
coverage of equipment used by German paratroops in World War II.
It also includes Italian and Japanese paratroop items, many never
seen or discussed in previous books.
The unique information detailed in these last two books deserves
the attention from the military historian. Schiffer Publishing,
Atglen, PA. Tel: (610) 593-1777. Fax: (610) 593-2002. Web site:
For another view of the Battle of the Bulge, one which is more
visual, and very helpful in "seeing" the battle as it
progressed, there is a recently published computer-simulation war
game: "Close Combat IV–Battle of the Bulge," published
by SSI (see www.ssionline.com).
Game options include variable tactical situations that employ battle
group formations (Kämpfgruppen) that re-create the conditions
that governed the Battle of the Bulge–snowy weather, forested
terrain, and Belgium villages. The AI (Artificial Intelligence),
integrated into the game, is aggressive–allowing you to play
the tactical possibilities arising from battlefield events–but
the Germans still lose.
Hardware requirements: Pentium II–200 MHz plus, 32 MB Ram
plus, 45 MB HD, Windows sound Card, also multi-player (Internet)
capabilities that require additional HD space and modem.
Dr. David LL. Silbergeld is a member of the Special Operations
and Low-Intensity Conflict Division of the National Defense Industrial
Association. His E-mail address is email@example.com.