Tour to the « Huertgenwald »
The “Battle of the Bulge” cannot be dissociated from the preceding “Battle of Huertgen Forest”, south of Aachen, Germany, which began mid-September 1944.
Today, it still remains one of the lesser known battles on the western front, as it stands for a failure in the Allied/US strategy. As Major-General James Gavin called it ”… for us the “Huertgen” was one of the most costly, most unproductive and most ill-advised battles that should never have been fought” or as former Chief of Military History Charles B. McDonald (himself a young officer, then) wrote “… a misconceived and basically fruitless battle that should have been avoided”. The overall battle that lasted almost 6 months called for 33.000 casualties (18.000 dead) on the US side and 28.000 on the German. Huertgen forest stands for extreme human suffering in a very hostile environment and very difficult terrain; apart from the effects of battle, man on both sides suffered from cold, trench-foot, mines and total exhaustion.
Ernest Hemingway, who, as a war correspondent, spent some time there with the 4th US Infantry Division and described all the horrors in the “dark, dense, damp and spooky woods where the dragons live” in his 1950 novel “across the river and into the trees”. “ In the “Huertgen” the dead froze and it was so cold that they froze with red faces” or “an area where it proved extremely difficult to remain alive, even if one did not do anything else as to being there”.
Further, German literature Nobel Prize winner, Heinrich Böll (himself a participant in the battle) noted in his novel “You enter Germany”: “...one has to walk off the trails and crawl deep into the dense young forest to discover the old burnt and now rotten tree trunks of winter 1944/45, the foxholes, trenches, emplacements, the torn and grown-over bunkers of the “Siegfried Line” …. “fucken war!” ..."
Visit the now peaceful and pleasant “Huertgen Forest” area and become aware that it was “mud and blood” and hell back then. Let us take you to selected sites packed with history and stories that stand for suffering, destruction and death on both sides. Our balanced tours consists of visits of memorials/cemeteries, special sites in the woods, terrain walk(s), museum and remains of the “Westwall” (dragons’ teeth and destroyed bunkers).