As the Second World War drew towards its final year, with the Allied forces pushing further into Occupied Europe, Germany launched their last major offensive. Following the success of D-Day and the Normandy landings, Paris had been liberated and the Allies were advancing.
The Nazis began an aggressive campaign on December the 16th, hoping to recapture the port of Antwerp and break up the Allied lines. This is turn would allow German troops to encircle and beat back their enemies, buying Hitler the time he needed to focus on his war with Russia.
It was a massive offensive, involving almost half a million German soldiers. Incredibly, they succeeded in keeping their plans completely secret until the morning of the 16th, taking their opponents completely off-guard. Reserves of men and equipment had been moved under cover of darkness, and radio communications on the subject had been kept to a minimum.When the offensive began, it could have been a dark turning point in the war. Had they been victorious, the Nazis could have gained significant leverage over the Allies, and perhaps even forced them to seek terms.
When the offensive began, it could have been a dark turning point in the war. Had they been victorious, the Nazis could have gained significant leverage over the Allies, and perhaps even forced them to seek terms.
However, the battle proved a too significant a drain on their men and resources to recover from, after they lost up to 125,000 men. The offensive ended on the 25th of January, 1945, leaving German forces unable to hold the Western Front. The Allies pushed forward, continuing east towards Berlin.
This video shows dramatic and harrowing scenes from the Western Front, including footage from both the Allies and the Germans. It captures not only the brutality that American troops faced on the battlefield, but also the destruction the conflict wrought on the towns and villages of the surrounding area. As an insight into this catalytic battle during the final days of the Second World War, it’s well worth watching.
Warning: Graphic Content