Beech forest covered with frost and snow, Ardennes, Belgium
© Philippe Moes/Alam
The Battle of the Bulge 75 years later
Seventy-five years ago this week, the Battle of the Bulge began in the forests of the Ardennes, Belgium. On the morning of Dec 16, 1944, the beleaguered German army threw its best remaining troops and armor against a lightly defended section of the Allied line. Bad weather neutralized Allied air superiority and over the first few days, the Nazi offensive produced a 'bulge' in the Allies' defensive line west into Belgium. Desperate to hold the line, US General Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne to defend the strategically important crossroads in Bastogne. The town was surrounded for nearly 10 days by German forces, but the Airborne held out. In fact, a German demand for Allied surrender was rejected with a single word: 'NUTS' (a bit of 1940s American slang that needed to be explained to the Nazi officers). In the end, the German offensive was defeated, with US forces having borne the brunt of the fighting—Americans sustained their highest casualties of any single battle in World War II.
This weekend, the town of Bastogne has been celebrating NUTS Weekend, an annual tribute to the soldiers who defended the town in 1944. Festivities include a military parade, a walk around the perimeter, and even the 'Jet de Noix' (throwing of the nuts).