The Battle for Aachen Tour
Below: The 1st penetration of the Siegfried Line, at ROETGEN – A Classic “Then & Now” photo with my American customers
Aachen was heavily damaged during World War II. The ancient city of Charlemagne and its fortified surroundings, were laid siege to, from 12 September–21 October 1944, by the US 1st Infantry Division with the 3rd Armored Division assisting from the south.
On the 13 of October, the US 2nd Armored Division played their part, coming from the north and getting as close as Wurselen, while the 30th Infantry Division played a crucial role in completing the encirclement of Aachen on 16 October 1944.
With reinforcements from the US 28th Infantry Division, the Battle for Aachen then continued involving direct assaults, through the heavily defended city (26th Infantry), which finally forced the German garrison to surrender, on 21 October 1944.
Aachen was the first German city to be captured by the Allies, and its residents welcomed the soldiers as liberators….
Aachen was destroyed partially – and in some parts completely – during the fighting, mostly by American artillery fire and demolitions carried out, by the fanatical Waffen-SS defenders. Damaged buildings included the medieval churches of St. Foillan, St Paul and St. Nicholas and the Rathaus (city hall), although Aachen Cathedral (Dom),was largely unscathed.
Only 4,000 inhabitants remained in the city; the rest had followed evacuation orders. Its first Allied-appointed mayor, Franz Oppenhoff, was assassinated by an SS commando unit.
1,345 Jews lived in the Aachen in 1933. The synagogue was destroyed during Kristallnacht in 1938. In 1939, after emigration and arrests, 782 Jews remained in the city. However, after World War II, only 62 Jews lived there
THE BATTLE FOR AACHEN TOUR
This is a 1 or 2 day tour, exploring the battlefields, inside and outside of Aachen
It can also be extended, to include my Hurtgen Forest Tour, if required, as Aachen is on the edge of the Hurtgenwald
AACHEN TOUR LOCATIONS
HENRI-CHAPELLE – a visit to the immaculately tended, Henri-Chapelle American Military Cemetery, not far from Aachen, on the German/Belgian border
American attack on Rimburg Castle, the surrounding forest & the vital crossing of the Wurm River
Heavy battles for the towns of Ubach, Palenberg & Marienburg & ruins of German bunkers
GERMAN BUNKERS – A look at several & very interesting, huge, blown German pillboxes and bunkers near Stolberg
ENCIRCLEMENT – The encirclement of Aachen by the 30th Infantry Division, 1st Infantry Division, (Big Red One) & 2nd & 3rd Armored Divisions
SIEGFRIED LINE – Historical and impressive long sections of Dragon’s Teeth (Hockerlinie), of The Westwall (anti-tank defences of the Schill Line & Scharnhorst Line)
Roetgen and the American advance to into Germany- Bunkers of the Westwall, where “Taskforce Lovelady” (3rd Armored Division), breached the line of Dragon’s Teeth. Mortar positions and MG nest here to see. A superb brand new memorial has now been placed here !
Rott – Hurtgen Headquarters of the 28th Infantry’s General -Norman “Dutch” Cota (during the Battle of The Hurtgen Forest) and where Eisenhower visited. 28th Infantry deserter – Eddie Slovik was held here – in the basement, prior to his trial in nearby Roetgen. This building in Rott, was the division’s stockade & is unchanged to this day
Roetgen Bahnhof (where the 1st American Jeep crossed into Germany) & German MG emplacement and exploded bunkers
An impressive & intact German Westwall Bunker & trenches, just outside Aachen, surrounded by German slit trenches
Eilendorf , Brand & Oberforstbach
Verlautenheide & Crucifix Hill – German destroyed bunkers & foxholes plus a terrific view of Aachen can be seen from here, from the cross itself
Aachen Central Bahnhof (Main Railway station)
3 huge battle scarred Air-raid Shelters, in the centre of Aachen (We can enter one by prior arrangement, to see how Aachen citizens lived, during the heavy allied air-raids)
Aachen Theatre -on Theatrestasse
LOUSBERG – The Lousberg Hill and battle scarred ruins. A superb panoramic view can be seen here, at the summit, of the whole of Aachen
Hotel Quellenhof (German Command Post and the last fanatical stand by the Waffen S.S) and the story of the massive battle in & around it
FARWICK PARK – The fierce fighting in and around Farwick Park, the Kurhaus & the cemetery
Location and a summary of the surrender of Aachen German Commander -Oberst Gerhard Wilck and his depleted soldiers, in their last hide-out – A huge air-raid bunker near the Lousberg
Rolandstrasse – Then & Now photo of surrendered German p.o.w’s
Several rebuilt Aachen Churches, destroyed by artillery & ariel bombardments, to try to force the German garrison to surrender
Aachen Rother Erde Bahnhof (scene of a lot of fierce fighting in and around the Rothe Erde Railway station)
Many shrapnel damaged buildings
AACHEN CATHEDRAL – The beautiful ancient historic Aachen Cathedral (Dom), where the German Kings were crowned, plus the elegant Rathaus & stunning, vibrant Markplatz
Plus key locations in Aachen centre, where house to house fighting took place (26th Infantry), plus the streets where the infantry advanced down, to reach the centre and clear all remaining stubborn resistance
Aachen has some superb & beautiful architecture, which you will also see during your tour. Don’t forget your camera !
I will show you some terrific “Then & Now” locations, in and around the centre of Aachen