« Wacht Am Rhein »

The operation« Wacht Am Rhein »(Guard in the Rhine) was thus called so as not to wake up the suspicions of the allies. Indeed, the heading gives more the impression of an operation of reinforcement of defenses on the line of the Rhine than of an attack in force in the area of the Belgian and Luxembourg Ardennes                           .

The D-day was to be fixed in theory for November 27, but it was first once given to December 10 but certain Divisions had not joined yet their starting point and the gasoline depots all were not supplied. One deferred it one second time to December 15, always for the same reasons                      .
Lastly, December 12, the date is definitively attached to December 16.

The operation consists in creating an opening joining Antwerp. This solution, if it profited from sufficient means and ... of much of chance, could turn over the exchange rate of the war. While joining Antwerp by the Ardennes, the German army cuts the attack of Allied and can destroy about thirty divisions. If the 21 th group of army and the 1st and 9 th armies are encircled, and constrained in new Dunkirk without being able to have Antwerp, the English ones will have to sign a separate peace. Hitler will be able to then turn over its forces towards the East, forsaken and practically without defense during the operation                      .

Of course, there could be the hesitation between an attack in the East or the West. However, the loss of 30 divisions of Eisenhower would make the situation of this one uncumfortable, whereas the loss of 30 divisions on the Soviet side would be immediately filled by 30 new divisions                    .

If the solution of the attack in the West were accepted by all the members of the OKW which was in the confidence, it is with different the extent of the attack. If Hitler wished to reach Antwerp, Von Rundstedt and Model estimated that the means placed at their disposal were insufficient and proposed their« small solution »which consisted in destroying the forces, American especially, concentrated in the Aachen-Maastricht-Liege triangle. This solution was rejected by Hitler.

Thus, it is decided that                   :

  • The 6 th Armoured Army of the General Joseph Dietrich will be in charge of the principal effort in North. It will move towards the Meuse on each side of Liege, then will sink towards Antwerp and will seize some.
  • The 5 th Armoured Army of the General Hasso Von Manteuffel will progress on the same level as the 6 th, but more to the South. It will have to cross the Meuse between Huy and Givet then will go towards Brussels and will block the possible attacks of allied on the backs and the sides of the 6 th.
  • The 7 th Army of Brandenberger will attack between Vianden and Wasserbillig, will take Luxembourg and cover the whole of the operation by joining Semois and the Meuse in the south of Givet.

With that, it is wise to add the creation of two special forces:

- The Greif
- The Stösser operation.


Involved forces