January 6, 2015

1944. Allied Forces Capture Nazi Generals in Belgium

Nazi Commanders Talk Failed Strategy
Free Belgian troops arrive in Brussels, 4 September 1944 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Brussels

September 8, 1944

British troops have gained a bridgehead across the Albert Canal at the town of Beringen, a point a little over twenty miles from the German frontier. Infantry and armor are across the canal in strength, and today bitter fighting is underway as the Germans try fruitlessly to keep the bridgehead from expanding.

This is the first break across the Albert Canal, one of the few remaining land obstacles in the Allied drive north and east toward Holland and the Reich. The Germans seem to have been able to organize themselves into strong defensive units along the north bank of the canal for the first time since the British entered Belgium. The Germans lost an estimated 500 men in one battle for the bridgehead yesterday. The Nazis are contesting every crossroads and hill, and in one mining area there has been violent fighting for the possession of a slag heap which the Germans were last reported as still holding.

The 15th German Army troops now trapped in the channel pocket seem to have finally realized their predicament and are now making desperate attempts to get across the wide Scheldt river estuary and make their way northward through Holland back to Germany. The Allied air forces have spotted the movement and have barges and boats operating in the river under attack.

During the past week, two Nazi generals have been captured in Belgium. The first was Major General Graf zu Stolberg-Stolberg, commandant of the Antwerp garrison. Then yesterday Belgian forces captured Lieutenant General Seifert, commander of a German infantry division. These men have some interesting sidelights on the state of the Wehrmacht. The Antwerp commandant said that there were two reasons for the fall of that city. First, he said, there was the strong resistance activity inside of Antwerp, and second, the blitzkrieg advance of the British which gave him no time to prepare a defense. He praised Allied strategy; he once fought in Russia and Norway. He said that Red Army strategy and tactics were in many ways superior to those of the German staff.

However, the other Nazi general, General Seifert, said that the reason for the present predicament of the German army in northwest Europe was mainly due to the fact that they are completely out of touch with what is going on. They simply do not have the communications to coordinate either retreat or defense. He added that his best source of military information was the BBC and Allied radio stations operating out of Belgium.

When a British officer commented that he had seen only two German airplanes since D-Day, the Nazi general grinned and said, "That's two more than I have seen."

However, the most interesting prisoner captured in the past few days was a German soldier who for four years was one of Adolf Hitler's batmen. It seems that this soldier fell out of the good graces of Der Fuehrer and was fired; whereafter he was sent to prison, later to be released for service in the army.

This soldier said a lot of things about Adolf, including gossipy bits such as that no one ever knows when Hitler is going to feel like, and everyone from Field Marshals down to batmen have to wait to see the Fuehrer's mood before they approach him.

And the batman, who should know, said that Hitler's lady friend back in those days was a beautiful stenographer. For after all, Adolf is a dictator.

This is Bill Downs in Brussels returning you to CBS in New York.