UNION — The last great German offensive of World War II and its defeat by the American Army is the subject of the final installment of “The American Road To Victory” trilogy presented by the Union County Carnegie Library.
“The American Road To Victory” trilogy consists of “The Americans On D-Day,” “The Americans On Hell’s Highway,” and “The Americans In The Bulge.” The films follow the American experience in three major battles of the last year of the war in Europe: “D-Day,” “Operation: Market Garden,” and “The Battle Of The Bulge.”
The trilogy, which was acquired by the Friends of the Library, is being presented by the library as a “Living History” series. The first film, The Americans On D-Day, was shown June 7, and the second film, The Americans On Hell’s Highway, was shown Sept. 27, both at the Elks Lodge.
Screenings of all three films in the trilogy were scheduled on or near the anniversaries of the actual battles.
The third and final instalment, The Americans In The Bulge, which will be shown at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Elks Lodge, “examines the bloodiest and most costly campaign ever fought by U.S. Forces.”
The Battle of the Bulge, which began on Dec. 16, 1944 and ended on Jan. 25, 1945, was a German offensive launched through the Ardennes region of France, Belgium and Luxembourg with the goal of splitting American and British forces, seizing the city of Antwerp and then encircling and destroying four allied armies. By doing so, the Germans hoped to force the western allies to negotiate a separate peace which would allow them to turn their attention to the east and defeat the Soviet Union.
Though they caught the allies by surprise and achieved initial success, the Germans were ultimately stopped and driven back by a combination of unexpectedly fierce resistance by the American defenders of the town of Bastogne and clearing weather which allowed allied airpower to be deployed against them. Victory, however, came at heavy price with 89,500 of the 610,000 Americans involved in the fighting killed (19,000), wounded (47,500), captured or missing (23,000).
The documentaries were produced by Columbia-based “Living Battlefields,” and directed by Richard Lanni who combined interviews with veterans of the battles with archival foot, narration, and footage of the film’s host as he guides viewers through the sites where the battles were fought.
Library Director Ben Loftis said that Lanni, who hosted the showing of the first film at the Elks Lodge, considers The Americans In The Bulge the best of the trilogy.
“We’re really excited to be able to show the final installment in the trilogy,” Loftis said. “The director the films says that he feels this is the best of the three films. We’re happy to provide this documentary on this most important American battle.”
All three documentaries are hosted by Ellwood von Seibold who works as a tour guide for some of the World War II battlefields in Europe. For his efforts to keep the history of World War II in Europe alive for today’s generations, von Seibold has given the honorary rank of captain in the US Army.
In The Americans In The Bulge, Seibold explores the high cost American forces paid to turn defeat into victory and difficult conditions under which they achieved that victory. He takes the viewer from “the frozen Ardennes Forests to Malmedy, St. Vith, and Bastogne, von Seibold shows both the unimaginable conditions these soldiers endured, as well as their heroic efforts to foil the Nazis’ plan to encircle and destroy the Allied Forces.” In telling this story, von Seibold “runs across the fog-shrouded hills and jumps into the foxholes, providing a unique soldier’s point-of-view. In the process he untangles what is perhaps one of the most complex offensives of WWII, and makes it easy to follow and understand.”
After this evening, all three installments of the trilogy will be part of the library’s DVD collection and be available to be checked out.
Admission to The Americans In The Bulge is free and refreshments will be provided by the Friends.
Loftis thanked everyone for their assistance in the showing of the films.
“We want to thank the Friends Of The Library for providing refreshments and decorations,” Loftis said. “We want to thank the Elks Lodge of Union for providing space to screen the films. We also want to thank the film’s director, Richard Lanni, for hosting the screening of the first film and Supervisor Tommy Sinclair for hosting the screening of the second film. We also want to thank Torance Inman for hosting the screening of the third film.”
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.