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The Battle of the Bulge Remembered

An American soldier holds German prisoners at gunpoint in the snow in the Ardennes region of Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944.
An American soldier holds German prisoners at gunpoint in the snow in the Ardennes region of Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944.

Sixty years ago this holiday season, the German army tried to push the Allies back one last time, as World War II neared its end in Europe. Earlier in 1944, the Allied army fought its way ashore at Normandy.

But in December, German leader Adolf Hitler surprised the Allies with an offensive across Belgium and Luxembourg. By Christmas Eve, German forces had pushed the American defense line back 60 miles and trapped the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne.

This punch was the "bulge" of the Battle of the Bulge. Hitler's plan was to reach the Meuse River, move north and capture the port at Antwerp, then offer terms for an armistice. The Germans never reached the Meuse.

Former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite was with Gen. George Patton's 3rd Army that Christmas and covered the American counter-offensive for the wire service then known as United Press. Cronkite reflects on what remains the largest pitched battle in the history of American arms.

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Walter Cronkite
Walter Cronkite has covered virtually every major news event during his more than 65 years in journalism - the last 54 affiliated with CBS News. He became a special correspondent for CBS News when he stepped down on March 6, 1981 after 19 years as anchorman and managing editor of the CBS Evening News. Affectionately nicknamed "Old Iron Pants" for his unflappability under pressure, Mr. Cronkite's accomplishments -- both on-air and off -- have won him acclaim and trust from journalism colleagues and the American public alike.