The Battle of the Bulge was the last German offensive of World War II, and the Siege of Bastogne was the scene of a heroic defence by American paratroopers. Veterans, historians and military enthusiasts will join international officials to mark the relief of Bastogne in late December 1944, by U S General George Patton, AFP reported on Saturday December 14th.
Seventy-five years on, the Belgian town of Bastogne, close to the Luxembourg border in the Ardennes hills, is hosting a weekend of military re-enactments followed by solemn ceremonies of remembrance
On Sunday December 15th, hundreds of re-enactors in period uniforms from both sides will recreate sequences of the battle outside the hamlet of Hardigny. The following day, dignitaries will gather at the Mardasson Memorial to the thousands of American dead, for the official ceremony of remembrance.
Belgium’s Prime Minister, Sophie Wilmes, will be joined by US Secretary of Defence, Mark Esper, and Germany's President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Poland's President, Andrzej Duda will attend, as will envoys from Britain, Canada and France.
The convoy will cross the border to the Luxembourg Military Cemetery and Memorial in Hamm, the final resting place of Patton. The general died in a road accident during the 1945 occupation of a defeated Germany. He was buried in the Ardennes with comrades from his famous victory. He is considered one of America's military giants.
The delegates will be received by Luxembourg's Grand Duke Henri, and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.
The Siege of Bastogne (20th to 27th December 1944) was an engagement of the Battle of the Bulge. The battle raged across the Ardennes for six weeks, until the Allies defeated the Germans in January 1945.
Between 15,000 and 20,000 German troops died, against between 10,000 and 19,000 Americans, and 3,000 Belgian civilians perished.
There will be Americans, Belgians and Germans present, "because we must appreciate history from both sides with a view to reconciliation," said spokesperson John Osselaer.
"Our gratitude to the young Americans who fell on Ardennes soil is eternal. We owe them our freedom," said Bastogne's Mayor, Benoit Lutgen.