Rich Lowry

It became clear that the Germans weren't going to achieve a quick breakout. "Even broken American divisions," Weintraub writes, "evidencing courage and resourcefulness, had slowed, if not blunted, the German offensive beyond expectations on both sides. The Bulge was producing little strategic benefit."

Gen. Patton, who had been looking forward to thrusting toward the Saar region of Germany, instead had to relieve Bastogne. Earlier, he had badgered his chaplain to pray for optimal conditions for an offensive. The chaplain noted "that it isn't a customary thing among men of my profession to pray for clear weather to kill fellow men." Undeterred, Patton asked, "Are you teaching me theology or are you the chaplain of the Third Army?"

Patton distributed a printed prayer for good weather to his troops and made his own appeal, noted above. The weather improved, and Patton wrote in his diary, "A clear, cold Christmas, lovely weather for killing Germans, which seems a bit queer seeing Whose birthday it is." By early January, the Germans were forced to withdraw from the Ardennes, and the Allies were at the Rhine by March.

One schoolmaster returning to his blasted classroom after the battle found a message scrawled on the blackboard from a distraught German officer: "From the ruins, out of blood and death shall come forth a brotherly world." Unlikely as it seemed at the time, he was right. The Allied victory created the predicate for a free Europe at peace. One prays that the Christmastime exertions by today's American troops eventually create equally beneficent results.

Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
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