World War II remains one of the most devastating conflicts in the recent history of humankind, and its effects still echo in modern society. Therefore, exploring the events of WWII will allow understanding the challenges of the contemporary political and economic choices made on the global scale better. The Battle of the Bulge is, perhaps, one of the best-known events in WWII. Representing the military action, the outcomes of which were predetermined to a significant degree, it marked the beginning of the Axis powers’ gradual defeat despite having been initiated by the German troops and aimed at gaining the advantage in the Western Front.
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In retrospect, the Battle of the Bulge can be seen as one of the largest strategic mistakes made by Germany due to the false assumption of military superiority. Underestimating their forces, the German troops headed to the Western Front in order to conquer it and take a more favorable geographic and military position. The specified choice was made with no regard for the possible obstacles and the strategic approaches that the U.S. Army could deploy. Although the German troops managed to kill a large number of the American soldiers and capture new territories, the approach that the troops of the Allies utilized to attack the Nazis led to the ultimate triumph.
However, before the Allies managed to defeat the German army, they had to face several devastating defeats that allowed German soldiers to enter the Western Front fast and capture several essential areas. The fast advancement of the German army can be explained by the lack of preparedness among the Allies since the very endeavor at seizing Luxembourg and Belgium during what Hitler called the “Ardennes Offensive” (North 176) seemed impossible.
The attack started by the fact that German troops took Dwight Eisenhower, who was the Expeditionary Force supreme commander, completely by surprise, thus, causing significant losses among the U.S. military. The fact that German soldiers used the forest to camouflage themselves and conceal their location explains the lack of efficiency among the U. S. Army in the attempts to control the situation and minimize the advantage of the German troops.
The German army had a well-developed strategy that made it practically invincible to the Allies. Hasso, Freiherr von Manteuffel attacked the U.S. Army and headed in the northwest direction to capture Antwerp and develop a barricade that would prevent the U.S. troops from interfering (Ford-Jones and Jones 192). By using both the topography of the area and the weather conditions, the German army managed to capture a significant area and advance even farther, thus beginning to pose a large threat to the population of Antwerp and the nearby areas (North 73). The Battle of the Bulge culminated in the Siege of Bastogne, during which both sides experienced drastic damages, yet the allies managed to defeat the enemy due to the divisionary attack that occurred in the eastward area of the front.
Even though both sides experienced large losses, the remnants of the German army continued to move northward. The army reached the Meuse when it was attacked by the British troops under the command of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (North 27).
As a result, the German arm failed to cross the Meuse and advance (North 165). However, the specified maneuver did not stop the soldiers from continuing to attack and try to seize strategically important areas. Specifically, the Unternehmen Herbstnebel and von Rundstedt’s Fall Martin operations created the setting in which the U.S. and the British troops could not continue to fight against the Nazi forces (North 26).
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However, on January 3, 1945, the German Army prepared for a counteroffensive, which was expected to set an elaborate trap for the Allies. Despite the initial assumptions, the U.S. troops managed to avoid the trap, and the efforts that it took from Germany to build the counteroffensive were the final straw for the German army (North 18). The lack of success in the operation that the German army believed to be extraordinarily fast and equally effective caused a devastating drop in the opponents’ ability to maintain the status quo and retain their success.
When considering the factors that allowed the American troops to defeat the German army, one should mention the strategy that the U.S. Army deployed when fighting the invaders. Instead of attacking them directly, the U.S. 2nd Battalion split into smaller groups and initiated a series of local attacks, thus not only causing the enemy significant damage but also demoralizing the overly confident German troops (Ford-Jones and Jones 211).
The specified approach toward handling the Battle of the Bulge worked especially well since the German soldiers were overly confident due to the streak of success that they had had prior to the specified line of events. In addition, the lack of knowledge about the infrastructure and geography of the area halted the advancement of the German military significantly. Particularly, German soldiers found it excruciatingly difficult to move forward due to the poor condition of the roads, which made it possible for the Allies’ troops to thwart the progress of the Axis powers on the Western Front.
North, David C. World War II: Battle of the Bulge. New Word City, 2015.
Ford-Jones, Martyn R., and Robert W. Jones. A Royal Engineer at War 1940-1945: From Crossing the Desert to Crossing the Rhine. Fonthill Media, 2017.