"Walnuts!" - The story behind the famous American response to the German ultimatum to surrender at Bastogne - MilitaryHistoryNow.com (2023)

"Walnuts!" - The story behind the famous American response to the German ultimatum to surrender at Bastogne - MilitaryHistoryNow.com (1)

"McAuliffe realized that some kind of response needed to be offered and he sat down to think about it. After a few minutes, he admitted to his officers that he didn't know what to say to that."

Por Gary Stern

IT WAS AVERAGE- The morning of December 22, 1944, when American troops occupied the defenses of the besieged Belgian citycaneHe watched as four German soldiers, a major, a captain, and two privates, approached under a large white flag.

HeUS Army 101stcalleairborne divisionhe had established a perimeter there only two days earlier to prevent Hitler's trespassingSurprise offensive through the Ardennes. By this time, 400,000 German soldiers, supported by more than a thousand armored vehicles, had broken through the American lines and were heading for the port of Antwerp in hopes of dividing the Allied forces. Bastogne was right in his path. Seven main streets entered and left the city; Capturing it was vital to the German advance.

"Walnuts!" - The story behind the famous American response to the German ultimatum to surrender at Bastogne - MilitaryHistoryNow.com (2)

The four-man enemy delegation urged all American forces in Bastogne to surrender within two hours or face "total annihilation" by German artillery.

Tech Sergeant Oswald Butler and Sergeant Major Carl Dickinson of F Company,327th Glider Infantry, and paramedic PFC Ernest Premetz confronted them.

The German captain told Butler in English: "It's usparliamentariansIt was a somewhat forced reference to the act of bargaining:game.

The men blindfolded the Germans and escorted them to an abandoned house that served as the command post for Company F.

The company commander, Captain James F. Adams, relayed the news of the terms of surrender to 2nd Battalion Headquarters in Marvie. The commanders there, in turn, notified the 327th Regimental Headquarters at Bastogne, which passed it on to the 101st Division.

After submitting the transfer request, the 101calleCommander,Brigadier General Anthony C. McAuliffeHe laughed at the idea of ​​giving up. In his opinion, his men struck the Germans with "a great blow", feeling that the enemy's demand was incompatible with the existing situation.

"Oh, crazy," he snapped.

Still, McAuliffe realized that some kind of answer had to be given, and he sat down to think about it.

After a few minutes, he confessed to his officers that he did not know how to react.

An officer named lieutenant colonelharry kinard, made a suggestion.

"You said 'Nuts!'" he commented, suggesting that this was the answer.

The idea earned applause from all present. And so McAuliffe decided to send that same message to the Germans: "What madness!"

A colonel named Harper volunteered to personally introduce him to the German officers.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," he said.

"Walnuts!" - The story behind the famous American response to the German ultimatum to surrender at Bastogne - MilitaryHistoryNow.com (3)

Harper found the two German negotiators, blindfolded and under guard, standing in the woods, waiting to be sent back to their ranks with the American response.

"I have the commander's answer," he said, handing the note to the enemy delegates.

"If you don't understand what 'crazy' means, in plain language it's the same as 'go to hell,'" Harper explained wryly. "And I'll tell you something else: if you keep attacking, we'll kill any damn German who tries to invade this city."

The German major and captain then saluted very stiffly and turned to go.

"We are going to kill a lot of Americans," the younger of the two officers said as they left. "This is war."

Historians believed that the German high command sent its officers to Bastogne with a demand for surrender. But in uncovered interviews with allied interrogatorsGeneral Hasso of Cloak, commander of5hetank armyHe admitted that it was not. In fact, she was surprised to learn that the ultimatum was issued at all.

Panzer-Lehr DivisionSended aparliamentarianto Bastogne without my permission," von Manteufel said later. “As expected, the delivery request was rejected. I did not authorize the surrender demand made to the Bastogne garrison and I am still not sure who exactly authorized it."

StillMajor General Heinz Kokott, commander of26. Volksgrenadier DivisionHe claimed to have an idea:

The 2nd Armored Division had taken Foy during the day. The enemy there had actually withdrawn towards Bastogne.

The 2nd Panzer Division had then turned west as instructed and rolled its bulk in a westerly direction. Only flimsy security detachments were left at Foy.

During the course of the morning, the corps had informed the division that, by order of the corps, a negotiator from the Panzer Lehr Division would be sent to Bastogne, who would call on the enemy forces there to surrender.

Word came from the corps that the commander of Bastogne's forces had refused to surrender with remarkable brevity. This reaction fully corresponded to the tenacious obstinacy of the defenders.

"Walnuts!" - The story behind the famous American response to the German ultimatum to surrender at Bastogne - MilitaryHistoryNow.com (4)

Two days later, on Christmas Eve, General McAuliffe wrote an inspired statement telling his men the German demand for surrender, along with his response.

His Christmas message was as follows:

"What's so funny about that?" you ask. We fight, it's cold, we're not home. Very good, but what is the proud Adler Division doing with its worthy companions of the 10th?705th Tank Destroyer BattalionAnd everything else? Just this: we stopped everything that was thrown at us from the north, east, south and west. We have ID cards from four German armored divisions, two German infantry divisions, and one German parachute division. These units, spearheading the last desperate German push, were driving directly west to key points while the Adlerdivision was hastily ordered to halt the advance.

How effectively this was done will go down in history; not only in the glorious history of our division, but in world history. The Germans actually surrounded us, their radios blaring announcing our doom. Allied troops attack hard. We continue to hold Bastogne. By holding Bastogne we ensure the success of the allied armies. We know that our division commander, General Taylor, will say, "Well done!" We are giving our country and our loved ones back home a worthy Christmas present, and being privileged to be able to participate in this courageous feat truly makes us a Merry Christmas.

Private, by phone tonight tooGeneral Middleton, McAuliffe expressed his true Christmas spirit in these words: "The best Christmas present the 101 could receive would be a relief tomorrow."

After a week of attacks, the Germans were also coming to the end of their resistance. RespectivelyMajor Percy Ernst Schrammfrom from fromWehrmachtThe operating personnel ran out of fuel.

Genfldm Keitel was the man responsible for the amounts of POL (gasoline and oil) provided to the Army Group for the offensive," he recalled. “[He] received some very urgent requests for the release of POL stocks, as the prevailing shortages were expected to have the most serious consequences. The OKW Chief of Staff granted these requests very slowly and then only for the smallest possible quantities, amounting to only a few thousand cubic metres.

And so, the German army bogged down around Bastogne, out of fuel and without enough reserves to make up for their losses, the battle the Germans were involved in already lost, just as General McAuliffe had predicted days before.

Reinforcements arrived on Christmas Day to bolster the defenses around Bastogne, and soon American forces began pushing the Germans across the Ardennes into Germany.

"Walnuts!" - The story behind the famous American response to the German ultimatum to surrender at Bastogne - MilitaryHistoryNow.com (5)gary sterneis the author ofThe Americans and the Germans at Bastogne: First-hand accounts of the commanders who fought.A co-founder ofthe gunsmithYskirmishMagazines, runs a museum in Normandy, France, built on the site of a German gun emplacement near Pointe du Hoc known as dasmaisy battery. Sterne's rediscovery of the position in 2006 made headlines around the world. The site is now one of Normandy's top D-Day attractions.


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