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An incredibly rare printed leaflet issuing the general order for the Wehrmacht to begin the Ardennes Offensive, better known as the Battle of the Bulge, on December 16, 1944 - a move that was crushed within weeks by George Patton's Third Army
Western Front, December 16, 1944. 6" x 8.25". " Broadside, Wir greifen an! (""We are attacking!"") 6"" x 8.25"", ""Im Westen,"" December 16, 1944, being a general order issued on the opening day of the German Ardennes Offensive, signed in print, ""von Rundstedt Generalfeldmarschafl [sic]"" and ""Model Generalfeldmarschall."" Weak at folds with partial separations, light soiling, a few minor pin holes, marginal wear, else very good. An incredibly rare relic from Germany's last offensive of the war, the desperate attack in the Ardennes aimed at breaking the Allied lines in two. The Germans then planned to recapture the important port of Antwerp and hopefully encircle four Allied armies in an effort to force a negotiated end to the war. At dawn on December 16, 1944, a force of approximately 200,000 men, supported by over 500 tanks and other armored vehicles moved against the weakest point on the Western Front in the dense forests of the Ardennes. The Americans were completely taken by surprise and suffered heavy casualties. Field Marshal Gerd von Runstedt (1875-1953) exhorts his men: ""Eure große Stunde hat geschlagen. Starke Angriffsarmeen sind heute gegen den Anglo-Amerikaner angetreten. Mehr brauche ich Euch die heilige Verpflichtung, alles zu geben und Ubermenschliches zu leisten."" (Trans: ""Powerful combat troops are lining up today against the Anglo-Americans. I need not say more. You all are feeling it: Everything is at stake! Carry out your sacred responsibility to give your all performing super human feats."") Runstedt closes exhorting his armies to fight ""Für unser Vaterland und unseren Führer!"" (Trans: ""For our fatherland and our leader!"") Field Marshal Walther Model (1891-1945), the commander of Army Group B, which formed the body of the attacking force adds an additional order, vowing that, ""Wir werden das in uns gesetzte Vertrauen des Führers und der Heimat, die das Vergeltungsschwert schufen, nicht enttäuschen."" (Trans: ""We will not betray the trust placed in us the leader and the home that created the retaliatory sword."") and urges his men to go forward in the spirit of Leuthen (""Vorwärts im Geiste von Leuthen!"") alluding to the 1757 Battle of Leuthen in which Frederick the Great used maneuver and terrain to defeat a much larger Austrian Army during the Seven Years War. In that sprit, the Germans employed a number of unconventional tactics including deploying saboteurs in American uniforms to switch road signs leading unsuspecting Allied soldiers into ambuscades. Perhaps most tragically, in an effort to keep the offensive running at full pace, the Germans sought to take no prisoners. On the second day of the offensive, at Malmedy, Belgium, SS men machine gunned a group of approximately captured 150 members of the 285 Field Artillery Observation Battalion, murdering over 80 of them. (The American retaliated on New Year's Day 1945, shooting 60 German prisoners of war near Bastogne.) Although the German advance was initially quite successful, they soon became bogged down as the Allies reacted to the advance. Omar Bradley commanding the First Army (to the north) and George S. Patton commanding the Third Army (to the south) both sent in heavy reinforcements. Surrounded at Bastogne, the commander of the 101st Airborne, Gen. Anthony MacAuliffe, resisted the assault which forced the Germans to concentrate on taking the town rather than advancing further west toward their objective. (When ordered to surrender by the Germans, MacAulliffe famously responded with one word: ""nuts."") The advance stalled on December 25, 1944, and within a month the Germans were pushed back to where they began. This would prove to be the final German offensive of the war. Germany would capitulate only a few months later in early May 1945. Rare. This is the first example of this broadside we have ever encountered. Auction records reveal no copies appearing for sale in the past forty years. "
      [Bookseller: University Archives]
Last Found On: 2017-04-27           Check availability:      Biblio    

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