Joedemadio's WW2 History Travel Blog

Lest We Forget – Relive The Past

A very unusual meeting between U.S. and German soldiers in the Battle of the Bulge!

August 8, 2014 joedemadio 7 Comments

During war the most unusual things can happen at most the dangerous situations.  This particular story is about the 2nd infantry regiment during the Battle of the Bulge. The moment is described in the book: A foot soldier for Patton  “The story of a “Red Diamond” infantryman with the US Third Army” by Michael C. Bilder

The 2nd infantry regiment crossed the Sauer river near Diekirch in January ’45. Early February they found themselves south-west of Echternach, again preparing to cross the Sauer river, this time east into Germany. Michael C. Bilder was sent on a patrol along the Sauer river one night: “We knew the Germans were on the other side preparing their defenses for our coming assault. We heard noises in the brush on their side of the river pretty close to the shoreline, and I couldn’t resist calling out sarcastically in their own language, “Are you Germans over there?” To my complete surprise they actually answered. “Yeah, we’re here,” one replied in German. It was dark and I couldn’t tell whether or not there was a full squad of them” 

They were only with three, so they didn’t consider to open fire. Bilder asked the Germans what they were doing so close to American lines. As their excuse they told him that they thought they were still operating well within their own lines. Then they asked him how it was that he could speak German so well. Bilder’s parents were from Germany and he learned to speak German in his own house as he was growing up. At one point the meeting took a more humorous turn as each side tried to make the other surrender. “We’ll give you some delicious strudel. You can finish out the war in safety” Bilder half thought about it for a second before responding “Why don’t you come over here and surrender to us? We’ll give you some delicious lemon cream pie.” They entertained each other for a moment, before they both slowly backed away from the riverbank.

Soldiers were always worried when it comes to surrendering. They never knew what kind of treatment they’d receive once they became a POW. Bilder later reported the enemy activity but didn’t mention their unusual meeting.

Lucky for the 2nd infantry regiment they didn’t make the initial crossing over the Sauer river. This was up to the 10th and 11th regiment of the 5th infantry division.

DSC01124A monument for the 5th infantry division that crossed the Sauer river here in February ’45 under heavy enemy artillery fire. It was a hard task for the 10th and 11th infantry regiment and they paid dearly for it! I visited the site in July 2014, you can read about my summer trip in the Bulge here!

DSC01126

 

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Comments

  1. Ferris
    January 5, 2015 - 12:49 am

    Thank you for the story. I served in the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Infantry Regiment, 2011-2014.

    • joedemadio
      January 6, 2015 - 11:25 pm

      Wow that’s amazing! If you want to share your story send me an email!

  2. Annette Toth
    December 12, 2015 - 3:38 pm

    My dad served in the 11th Infantry Regiment during the Sauer River crossing, so thank you for this post. It provides detail that we hadn’t found elsewhere.

  3. Jim Ritthaler
    March 29, 2016 - 9:31 pm

    Thanks for posting. My dad served in the 2nd infantry regiment of the 5th Infantry Dvision during this time. I have the letters he wrote home during the bulge. Very interesting.

  4. Deb Cochran
    January 3, 2017 - 2:47 am

    My dad also served in the 2nd Infantry Regiment. He passed away 10-21-16 at the age of 96. He told us many stories about his time in the US Army. Such hardship they endured during the Battle of the Bulge, and most of them were barely past their teenage years. The debts we owe them…..!

  5. Charles Dunlavey
    February 14, 2017 - 2:40 am

    My Dad was in the 10th infantry regiment 10-43 to 2-45 He did not talk about it at all. He passed away 9-94 70 yrs old . Thank you for all your work.

  6. David Long
    July 9, 2017 - 10:21 pm

    According to my fathers papers, a SSgt., he was a Squad Leader 745, in Co. C, 11th Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division. He arrived in Europe 26 September 1944, and left 13 July 1945. My father passed away back in January of 1964. I was 8. Only recently have I developed an interest in my family history. I did the ancestry.com thing, DNA testing, even went to the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.
    My biggest surprise when I was going through documents at the Archives? Everything was fairly quite, you know … like in a library, except the occasional rustling of papers, the hum of a scanner, a few whispers. I let out a fairly loud “Oh my Gawd!” It seems the 5th Division, 11th Infantry Regiment was in and around Bitburg and Spangdahlem Germany. I was stationed at Spangdahlem Air base March of 1978 until March of 1980. Spent a lot of time in Bitburg. I had no idea at the time that my father walked on some of the same area 33 years earlier.

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