In the late autumn of 1944, the German 1st Army was still far from beaten. This knocked-out, well-camouflaged Hetzer tank destroyer and the bodies of its crew bear mute testimony to the tenacity of the German resistance at this stage of the war.


The Germans' skilled delay allowed them to prepare positions in and around the Maginot Line for defense against the 100th Infantry Division's advance. Unlike parts of the line further to the east, the casemates (pillboxes) and ouvrages (fortresses) of the Ensemble de Bitche were especially suited for all-around defense; these very pillboxes had withstood the German assault - from the same direction (south) during the 1940 campaign, after the German breakthrough in the Saar.

Just before midnight of New Year's Eve, the 100th was attacked by the elements of three German divisions, as Army Group G unleashed the last German offensive in the West, Operation NORDWIND. Although the units on both flanks gave way, the 100th held its sector, and fought in three directions simultaneously for almost two weeks. By blunting the repeated attacks of the 17th SS-Panzer Grenadier Division "Götz von Berlichingen" and the 559th and 257th Volks-Grenadier Divisions, the 100th was instrumental in foiling the Germans' attempt to break through to the Alsatian Plain, cut off the Seventh Army from the 1st French, and relieve the 19th Army in the Colmar Pocket.