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The Last Blitzkrieg: The Battle of the Bulge and Allied Victory in Europe

Evening Program

Thursday, July 19, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1H0357

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American soldiers on patrol during the Battle of the Bulge, 1945 (National Archives)

Just before dawn on December 16, 1944, American forces in the Ardennes forests of Belgium and Luxemburg were surprised by the roar of German artillery and tank engines that heralded Adolf Hitler’s final blitzkrieg. The battle that followed developed into the largest fought in Western Europe during World War II, involving more than a million participants struggling in bitter winter conditions for six weeks. When the Battle of the Bulge ended on January 25, Nazi Germany’s last reserves of troops and fuel were exhausted, and the road to the Rhine—and Allied victory—lay open.

Author Timothy Mulligan, a retired archivist who specialized in captured German and related American military records of World War II at the National Archives, examines the defining features of the battle. He discusses the failures of Allied intelligence, despite evidence from ULTRA intercepts; the key role the heroic defense of St. Vith played in the battle, and the actions of small groups of Americans to thwart the German advance. He also considers the disruption caused by German commandos disguised in GI uniforms; the Allied command crisis that developed during the battle; and war crimes committed against American soldiers and Belgian civilians that were only partially resolved by postwar trials.  

Afterward, educator Al Gaspar presents a miniature war-game battlefield created to depict the Battle of the Bulge.

Location
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)