FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: From the Archives: Dispatches: America at War

America at War: The Winter Months

American M36 tank destroyers of the 703rd TD, attached to the 82nd Airborne Division, move forward during heavy fog to stem German spearhead near Werbomont, Belgium, 20 December 1944.

THE three-power Conference in the Crimea, the Russian sweep from the Vistula across the Oder, and the American return to Luzon and invasion of Iwo in the Volcano Islands, 750 miles from Tokyo, were the principal milestones of the sixth winter of the war -- the fourth of American participation.

Military coöperation among the Allies reached a new high at Yalta. The Conference put an end to the German hopes of dividing the Allies and perfected plans for the last stages of the war in Europe. Another topic of discussion, though one not publicized, was the question of Russian participation in the Pacific war. Some agreements, though incomplete, were reached on the political problems of Europe; but where the Russians agreed to concessions, for example in the cases of Poland and Jugoslavia, it remained a question how far the excellent statements of principle would produce results acceptable in the long run either to foreign opinion or to the majority of the populations directly concerned.


In the broad strategic picture, the great Russian winter offensive which commenced on January 12 and quickly spread from the Baltic to the Carpathians compensated for the sharp reverse suffered by the American Armies in the Ardennes at the end of 1944. An attempt has been made by the War Department and by SHAEF to paint the Ardennes reverse as a great American victory. To this writer the attempt seems unnecessary and stupid. The flexibility and efficiency of the American staff work under stress of an unexpected blow, and the indomitable courage and combat efficiency shown by many American divisions, combined to prevent the Germans from succeeding in their maximum objective. The achievement does not call for hyperbole. Yet exaggerated accounts of the battle in the Ardennes have been issued, based apparently on the mistaken idea of too many of our military spokesmen -- that in handling public relations it is best to hide errors and inefficiencies and to make reverses appear as victories in order to "protect"

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