In late-December, 1944, as Christmas was drawing in and the Allies were sweeping through Europe, Hitler realized the end was drawing close.
He needed to do something drastic to turn the tide of the war so he said, “Hey, remember that Blitzkrieg thing we did? Well we’re going to do it again!”
So with a gigantic push through the Ardennes (again) the Wehrmacht slammed into the Allied lines, catching them by surprise and pushing them back quite a bit.
Whilst they were unable to encircle the Allies as they had several years ago, they did make a pretty nice bulge (which is why it’s known as The Battle of the Bulge, even though it happened in the Ardennes).
Located in Hitler’s Bulge was a Belgian town called Bastogne which was home to a company of soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division of the US Armed Forces.
Terms for an “Honorable Surrender.”
Bastogne was encircled and the surrounding Germans sent a couple of envoys to the town, offering very fair terms for the soldiers’ “honorable surrender.”
The Commanding Officer of the besieged soldiers passed the message over radio to his own Commanding Officer who was located back in Allied territory. A messenger went to go find Brigadier General Anthony C. McAuliffe and tell him of the Germans’ offer for surrender.
McAuliffe was asleep when the messenger arrived and woke him and read out the Germans’ letter.
“They want to surrender?” McAuliffe said.
“No, sir, they want us to surrender.” The messenger told him.
The General was furious. “Us Surrender?! Aw nuts!” was his response.
As the clock ticked McAuliffe didn’t know what to reply to the Germans, to which a colleague of his said “What you said initially would be hard to beat.”
McAuliffe, a little confused said, “What do you mean?”
To which his colleague said, “Sir, you said ‘nuts’.”
An American Response to Tyranny
So an American response was typed up which read:
“December 22, 1944
To the German Commander,
N U T S !
The American Commander”
When this message was delivered, the German envoys were a little confused.
“Is that negative or affirmative?” They asked the American troops.
The American CO of the besieged soldiers said, “The reply is decidedly not affirmative. If you continue this foolish attack, your losses will be tremendous.”
Three days later before any major German attack could befall Bastogne, human sledgehammer General Patton was able to break the siege with his 3rd Army and scatter the surrounding German troops.
“NUTS!” went on to become a major morale boost for American troops during the final push through Europe.