|Born||2 Jul 1898|
|Died||11 Aug 1975|
Contributor: Bryan Hiatt
ww2dbaseThat's what General Anthony Clement McAuliffe said to a German group who demanded the surrender of the encircled 101st Airborne at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.
ww2dbaseAccording to Harry Kinnard, then a Lt. Colonel on McAuliffe's staff, a party of four German soldiers approached the American line waving a white flag. Their note, in part, read:
ww2dbaseKinnard said the following about the General McAuliffe’s response:
ww2dbaseHe pondered for a few minutes and then told the staff, "Well I don't know what to tell them."
ww2dbaseHe then asked the staff what they thought and I spoke up, saying, "That first remark of yours would be hard to beat."
ww2dbaseMcAuliffe said, "What do you mean?"
ww2dbaseI answered, "Sir, you said 'Nuts'."
ww2dbaseAll members of the staff enthusiastically agreed, and McAuliffe decided to send that one word, "Nuts!", back to the Germans.
ww2dbaseMcAuliffe then wrote down:
ww2dbaseTo the German Commander,
ww2dbaseThe American Commander.
ww2dbaseThe German group didn't understand the message initially: "Is the reply negative or affirmative? If it is the latter I will negotiate further."
ww2dbaseAn American clarified it for him. "If you don't know what 'Nuts' means, in plain English it is the same as 'Go to Hell'. And I'll tell you something else, if you continue to attack we will kill every goddamn German that tries to break into this city."
ww2dbaseGeneral McAuliffe's response came to typify the "can-do" American attitude, despite the tough circumstances, demonstrated so ably by 101st Division in Bastogne. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for leading the defense of the city against overwhelming German strength in numbers and materiel.
ww2dbaseAt the time, McAuliffe was the acting commander of the Division, as General Maxwell Taylor was in Washington D.C. Taylor's son, Thomas, recounts what his father's response might have been in his book Behind Hitler’s Lines:
ww2dbaseGeneral Taylor reached the Division three days after the ultimatum was delivered, and by then "Nuts!" went "out to the world and into history."
ww2dbaseMcAuliffe went on to command the 103rd Division in January 1945 until the end of the war. After hostilities ended, he held a number of command posts in the military, including Commander and Chief of the U.S. Army in Europe in 1955. He retired in 1956.
ww2dbaseSources: 103rd Cactus Division, www.dropzone.org, National Archives, Behind Hitler’s Lines.
Last Major Revision: Mar 2005
Anthony McAuliffe Timeline
|2 Jul 1898||Anthony McAuliffe was born.|
|11 Aug 1975||Anthony McAuliffe passed away.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945