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The Soldiers of 'The Longest Winter'

Dec 12, 2004 (All Things Considered)

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Sixty years ago, Adolf Hitler launched a last attempt to maintain Germany's hold on Europe. On Dec. 16, 1944, German troops blasted through allied lines in the Ardennes forest of eastern Belgium. The goal of the surprise attack was to force American troops into a humiliating mass surrender.

Soldiers on the ground held the Germans off in what proved to be a decisive fight. But after repulsing three German assaults in a fierce day-long battle, one platoon ran out of ammunition and was captured.

The story of their survival while being held at some of the Third Reich's most notorious POW camps is the subject of a new book by Alex Kersaw. It's called The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of World War II's Most Decorated Platoon. Kershaw talks with NPR's Jennifer Ludden about the 18 young men who were honored for their bravery more than 30 years later.

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