Friday, 20 December 2019

battle of the bulge

With one of the last remembrance ceremonies thought to include witnesses to history taking place and the siege of Bastogne begun on this day in 1944, Allied forces in the Ardennes cut off by the resurgence of the Nazi army in efforts to recapture the port of Antwerp relieved by General Patton’s Third Army seven days later, I recalled this artefact, souvenir that I found at a Flohmarkt earlier in the summer.
The troops were ambushed in this nexus of roadways in the region with Generalleutnant Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz requesting the surrender of the city—to which acting commander of the 101st Airborne Division Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe replied succinctly “Nuts!”—holding the line until reinforcements arrived. The cast iron disc, which I didn’t know how to interpret at first and supposed still, is fitted with mounts, suggesting it was the plaque of a larger memorial and on the reverse is inscribed MADE IN COUVIN, a nearby municipality that was also the staging grounds for Adolf Hitler’s headquarters and bunker during the occupation of France.