On December 22, 1944, German officers under a flag of truce approached the American lines demanding Bastogne’s surrender…

After reading the demand, Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, the American commander in Bastogne, remarked, “Aw, nuts!” Further discussion failed to improve on his first reaction, and “NUTS!” became his famous one-word response. When the Germans failed to understand, an American officer explained, “in plain English it is the same as ‘Go to hell!’”

Autographed photo of General Anthony Clement McAuliffe after promotion to 4-star General as Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army Europe in 1955. Source – Chris Hernandez personal collection.


The photo below shows a copy of General McAuliffe’s December 24 “Christmas Message” to the men of the 101st which recounts the German surrender demand, McAuliffe’s reply, and informs them of an American counterattack.

“Merry Christmas” message to the 101st Airborne Division from Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, December 24, 1944. National Archives, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office. Source – US National Archives.


And soon help was on the way. On December 26, after moving over 100 miles in five days, the 4th Armored Division’s 37th Tank Battalion relieved Bastogne. By mid-January 1945, Allied troops eliminated the “bulge,” but at a high cost. The U.S. Army had suffered over 75,000 casualties.