New book tells the story behind Hitler’s Battle of the Bulge

A new book by British military historian Peter Caddick-Adams called “Snow and Steel: Battle of the Bulge 1944-5” reveals Hitler’s real thinking behind his Battle of the Bulge strategy, as well as the inside story on what made the German soldiers tick, and the lessons learned from America’s bloodiest battle of World War II.

The battle started with German troops’ infiltration of American lines, which the Americans then surrounded and eventually sealed off.

Peter Caddick-Adams’ interest in the battle started when he visited the Ardennes region where the battle took place as a teenager with friends in the 1970s. During his visit, he spoke with the locals who remembered the battle. A farmer showed him where the German and American lines had been where they found all manner of military artefacts just below the surface of the ground. They found shells, uniform parts, water flasks and lots of other military objects.

Peter believes Hitler’s decision to attack American troops was a political decision rather than a military one to turn the war around. He believes Hitler wanted to reassert his authority over his generals who had begun to take matters into their own hands.

Hitler had a disrespect for American troops since they were made up of a myriad of soldiers from all over the world, and he was trying to create the Aryan race of which he believed to be superior Europeans.

Peter talks of General George Patton as being aggressive and having limitless confidence bordering on arrogance. He led the American troops swiftly turning them from south to north in order to counterattack the Germans all within a few days.

Peter also discusses the German Panzer commander Joachim Peiper, a 28-year-old Nazi faithful. He was involved in many war crimes and fostered the disregard for Russian lives with his troops. This is reflected in the Malmedy Massacre where almost 90 American soldiers were captured and killed, the National Geographic reports.

Peter has asserted that the German troops widely used crystal meth, which was encouraged in order to get them into a fury and to motivate them before battle. The Germans even had soldiers as young as 16 going into battle.

The Battle of the Bulge was initially a misjudgment on the allied side that the Germans were losing the war. Peter believes the allies underestimated the Germans. Peter says he still has no idea of how the soldiers survived the horrors and freezing conditions of the battle.

Today, there are about 2000 Battle of the Bulge veterans. Peter took the opportunity while he could still discuss the battle with the survivors to write the book and commemorate their actions on the battle’s 70th anniversary.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE