YOU ENTER GERMANY: Bloody Huertgen and the Siegfried Line

2017 December 15
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Al Tea
YOU ENTER GERMANY: Bloody Huertgen and the Siegfried Line

The Battle of Huertgen Forest and along the Siegfried Line from 1944 to 1945 is one of the last great myths of World War II. It is known as the "longest battle on German soil", as well as the "Verdun in the Eifel", as the largest American defeat in Europe. Even the official US-military history speaks of Huertgen Forest as "a black-green ocean of forest, in which Hansel and Gretel had lost their way". Hemingway called the Eifel woods the "forest, where dragons live". Dragons' teeth, the Siegfried line, the Green Hell - terms that remind one of old German myths and fairy tales, of the Nibelungenlied, of the Nazi propaganda about the "eternal forest", of stories of ghosts and evil witches in the deep woods. Even today, people still speak of the more than 68,000 dead in the Huertgen Forest and the "All Soul's Day battle" near Vossenack and Schmidt is taught at the School for Command Preparation at Fort Leavensworth, USA, as an American disaster. James Gavin, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, called the "Bloody Huertgen" a "battle that never should have been fought". Perhaps this is the reason that this historic battle is always in the shadow of glowing victories like the Normandy landings and the crossing of the Rhine at Remagen. For the first time since the fighting over sixty years ago, a film team has now set out to track down the myths and legends and to research the real reasons for this "forgotten battle". After years of research, several surviving veterans in Germany and the United States have been interviewed. Never before seen film footage from the US National Archives and private archives are impressive evidence of the war, the signs of which can still be seen in the forests to this day. The moving interviews with eyewitnesses like the famous photographer Tony Vaccaro or the future Princeton Professor and German emigrant Werner "Tom" Angress underscore the senselessness and brutality of the war as does the statement of the German veteran Kurt Menzel: "Today, I am thankful that I lost my arm on that first day. As a result, I was never able to kill anyone." The project was supported by the Konejung Stiftung: Kultur. Script: Achim Konejung Camera:: Daniel Toelke, Liam A Casey Editing: Birgit Köster Music: George Villabour Production: Jürgen Teves Direction: Aribert Weis