From: Cologne, Germany
Just a quick word:
'Wacht am Rhein' was the operational planning code name on OKW-level;
'Martin' was its equivalent at OB-West level;
'Herbstnebel' was the equivalent at Heeresgruppe B level;
Because of OB-West's initial wish to aim for smaller operational goals ('kleine Lösung / small solution', i.e. not Antwerp as an objective, but surrounding large numbers of US-troops East of the Meuse, involving an attack in the Aachen sector), 'Martin' is often considered synonymous with a less ambitious operational plan for the Ardennes Offensive. In the end, OB-West got overruled and its 'Martin' plan was readapted to suit OKWs greater goals.
I forgot to reply to this it seems, so I'll do it now.
1) Actually, Rundstedt's Martin plan's more realistic goals (and setup) were totally undermined by Jodl/Hitler, as Hitler did not allow the final plan to differ from the original Führer directive - given in October 1944. Rundstedt, with his "small solution", favored a concentric thrust on a more narrow front, with a different amount of waves (than the amount envisaged in the Hitler/Jodl plan) to enable the following INF divisions to actually hold gained ground, where then, after the destruction of vital Allied units, units could be freed to swing North to rectify the situation at Aachen. Also, he outlined the thrust as a rather limited operation, without such a far-fetched goal like attempting to push to Antwerpen.
Interestingly, Rundstedt considered a follow-up attack (at one point even a simultaneous attack) way north - in Holland, respectively from a point north of the Venlo area - conducted by two army corps under Army Group H (Student). This second attack was part of his idea to employ a double envelopment, a giant pincer, but with limited depth. In theory a brilliant idea.
The Hitler/Jodl plan considered an attack conducted by Army Group H as a secondary operation only, which would only kick in if the enemy would send troops to fend off the thrust in the Ardennes - means solely to distract and avoid that the Allies would mass their forces to counter the German thrust in the Ardennes - forcing the Allies to split forces.
As far as I know, Army Group H's operations during the offensive failed, due to its weak/under-strength state, and Eisenhower did not "buy" it.
For the swing North, towards Aachen, Rundstedt requested a "blank cheque" for an improvised attack either towards Aachen, or to rectify any situations that may arise during the course of the main attack. This request was turned down as well as the Martin plan. In November, Rundstedt then just fleshed out the Hitler/Jodl plan, after various unsuccessful attempts to get approval for his plan, or for Model's/Rundstedt's combined plan. All three plans were "small solutions", and totally differed from the OKW outline.
Even the 3rd plan, the combined version (which featured many elements of the Hitler/Jodl plan, in order to win Hitler over to their more realistic approach), differed from the OKW plan significantly, not only regarding depth and amount of waves, but regarding objectives and foundations for (limited) follow-up operations, too.
2) In turn, Model's (Army Group B) initial idea ("Herbstnebel") was to rectify the situation around Aachen first (as he - unlike Rundstedt - regarded the Aachen sector as the most vital sector, because of the relatively short distance - and open terrain leading - to Cologne/the river Rhine), with a two-prongued assault that was supposed to crush the very strong US line-up at Aachen and Monschau, followed by minor operations just south of Monschau only, before launching a limited-scale offensive in the Ardennes. As Model's plan envisaged to keep regained ground in the West, not many units could be stripped off from West front sectors, so the Ardennes offensive would have had to be postponed until (yet not existing) new units would have been established. In order not to "waste" units for "useless" defensive operations around Aachen, he envisaged Herbstnebel to be carried out asap, thereafter he could then rearrange troops at Aachen, and save the vital (armored) units for an operation in the Ardennes, waiting for the new units that were already in the queue, indeed.
3) Herbstnebel was also the designation for an operation in Italy, namely the planned evacuation of the Padan Plain (Po valley) - the withdrawal of Kesselring's Army Group (in Italy) behind (means: north of) the major obstacle of the (river) Po. The request was turned down by Hitler, 2 times, and he ordered to defend the Apennine front and upper Italy "not only until late autumn, but indefinetly".
ORIGINAL: The European Theater of Operations
BATTLE OF THE BULGE
by Hugh M. Cole
"Hitler's letter on 1 November calls Dietrich's command the Sixth SS Panzer Army, a Freudian slip for this army did not officially bear the title SS and would not for some time to come. The question at issue, however, was the location of the Sixth Panzer Army. Rundstedt wanted the main effort to be launched in the center and so wished to reverse the position of the two panzer armies in the final deployment. But this was only one of several points at which the deployment outlined by OB WEST in the Martin plan (as finally agreed to by Model) differed from that given by Hitler's 1 November letter of instructions.
The Hitler-Jodl plan provided for an attack to be carried by the three armies of Army Group B advancing abreast. Plan Martin placed the Seventh Army to the left and rear of the two assault armies with its northern corps advancing behind the southern wing of the attack. Correspondingly, the Hitler-Jodl attack issued from an attack front sixty-five miles wide; the Martin attack took off from a forty-mile-wide base. In the first case the southern terminus of the penetration would be Grevenmacher; in Martin this terminus was set at Dasburg. Where the Hitler-Jodl attack moved straight through the Belgian Ardennes, that outlined in Martin skimmed the northern edge of the Ardennes. Of the thirteen panzer divisions listed by Hitler and Jodl, only four would be thrown into the first wave with six following in the second wave. The remaining three were to be held out for later employment in the holding attacks planned for Army Group Student. In Martin, contrariwise, Rundstedt put all of the panzer divisions he counted as available (twelve in number) in the first attack wave. As to reserves, the Hitler-Jodl order of battle counted four divisions in this category but provided for their commitment as the third wave of the attack. Rundstedt, far more concerned than OKW with the potential weakness of the southern flank, would assemble the three divisions of his reserve along the southern boundary of the expanding salient.
When, on 10 November, Hitler signed the operation directive Wacht am Rhein, it became clear that Rundstedt's Plan Martin had been sunk without trace. This was nowhere more evident than in the order of battle. The revised Hitler-Jodl list gave an impressive total of 4 armies (the Fifteenth had been added), 11 army corps, and 38 divisions (15 motorized and mechanized and 23 infantry), plus 9 Volks artillery corps and 7 Volks Werfer brigades. By what sleight of hand had Jodl and the WFSt been able to raise divisions for the counteroffensive which the Western Front commanders could not see? The answer is found in a combination of self-mesmerism at Hitler's headquarters and a kind of double entry order of battle. The assignment of the Fifteenth Army, fighting in the Aachen battle, theoretically added six divisions to the attacking force. The Fifteenth Army, however, was not to be employed until the Allies had reacted in force to the German attack, and in any case could not be expected to launch a large-scale attack until the Allied front east of Aachen had been drastically denuded of troops. Furthermore, the actual count of divisions in the Fifteenth Army was deceptive. Two of the divisions (the 49th Infantry and 246th Volks Grenadier) had been merged, the 49th being deactivated. This merger had been reported to the WFSt but the 49th continued on the Hitler-Jodl list. Another organization listed, the 89th Infantry Division, amounted to the strength of a single rifle battalion. Both OB WEST and Army Group B had asked for its disbandment, but this request was refused at the Fuehrer level.
An error of potentially greater import existed in the listing of three panzer-type divisions supposedly to come from other sectors of the Western Front. Rundstedt's protest against the nomination of the 21st Panzer Division as "available" has already been noted. Also tied down by the Allied attacks on the Army Group G front was the 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division. In addition, the 10th SS Panzer Division, involved in the fight east of Aachen, had a very limited combat capability. But when Model attempted to replace this formation with a green parachute division, OKW turned down the relief because the second division was ticketed for Wacht am Rhein. In effect the felony was compounded insofar as the three panzer-type divisions were concerned. Not only was it very unlikely that they could be taken out of sectors where they already were hotly engaged, but each was so weakened by constant fighting-the 21st Panzer Division and 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division had been in line without a break since the Allied invasion of Normandy-that the two together no longer had the combat value of a single full division."
OKW's questionable OOB that had been passed down the ranks (fielding quite some units that were either under-strength or so depleted that Rundstedt had suggested to disband the particular units - that request had been turned down by Hitler, as described in the first quote):
"The chain of events leading to the issuance of the questionable Hitler-Jodl order of battle was vicious in its working-but the sequence was not ended. Hitler had determined-on a military solution in which the means were not adequate to the end desired. His commanders at first had attempted to bring the objective into some proper relation to the available means. As a retort to these efforts, Jodl and the WFSt had supported the Fuehrer scheme by an inflated listing of additional available divisions. The higher field commanders then bowed to the inevitable, although they personally were aware that the troop list attached to the final operation directive of 10 November was probably phony, or at least highly suspect. The troop list thereafter would be duplicated in army group, army, corps, and division orders and plans. Commanders and staffs in lower echelons could have little or no knowledge of the questionable basis of the troop list. Each time the list was reproduced it became more of a solid fact. When a corps commander was informed that he would be given one of the divisions whose availability originally had been questioned by Rundstedt or Model."
< Message edited by GoodGuy -- 9/6/2009 5:54:49 PM >
General Anthony McAuliffe
December 22nd, 1944
"I've always felt that the AA (Alied Assault engine) had the potential to be [....] big."
8th of August, 2006