ARDENNES: THE SECRET WAR by Charles Whiting.
Following the greatest American intelligence failure since Pearl Harbor, 600,000 Germans smashed into the American troops holding the line in the snowbound hills of the Belgian Ardennes. A handful of German special forces, wearing U.S. uniforms and driving U.S. equipment, operating behind the U.S. lines, caused chaos and havoc. Among their number was the legendary Otto Skorzeny on the ground, and a small number of Nazi paratroops who were blown over great distances by the wind and tied down thousands of Allied troops who thought German paratroops were landing everywhere.
The Allied advance on Germany's West Wall received its biggest setback from the German counter-offensive of December 16, 1944. The general outline of the Battle of the Bulge, or "Ardennes Offensive" as it is more commonly known in Europe, is well-known and has become a great military legend. However, as veteran World War II author Charles Whiting reveals here, the magnitude of the German surprise has been downplayed in the West and the extent of German deception and sabotage operations minimized.
Charles Whiting traces German operations through the eyes of three key officers, all of whom he interviewed after the war. Hermann Giskes was a German Army counter-intelligence officer who had broken the Allied spy network in Holland and set up his own force of spies and saboteurs, who stood ready to aid any German offensive. Freiherr (Baron) von der Heydte was an aristocratic paratroop officer assigned to make a last desperate jump behind Allied lines. His small number of inexperienced troops were blown over great distances by the wind and tied down thousands of Allied troops who thought German paratroops were landing everywhere.
Otto Skorzeny was an SS commando leader assigned to deploy agents in American uniforms behind Allied lines during the upcoming offensive. A joking remark by Skorzeny led Allied intelligence to believe that he had been assigned to assassinate Eisenhower and other Western leaders, setting off a panic that further hampered Allied efforts to contain the Bulge. These three officers were key members of a German "secret war" that was more extensive and came closer to success than many previous accounts have suggested.
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