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OPERATION NORDWIND: Northern aggression during 2nd & 3rd week

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During the first week of January, the Germans had not obtained the breakthrough they planned to enable their armored reserves to exploit. However, they were aware that the three previous thrusts had greatly reduced north-easterly American defences along the Lauter River between Lauterbourg through to Wissembourg. On 7 January, permission was given to release the reserves, the XXXIX Panzer Corp commanded by General Decker, to push through this area. The goal was to sweep aside the weakened Americans and to manoeuvre through the gap to the west of the Haguenau Forest and to the east of mountains of the Low Vosges towards Saverne. Standing in the German way was an American defence anchored on a handful of French villages, including the neighbouring villages of Hatten and Rittershoffen (‘Hatten-Rittershoffen’).

 

The US 7th Army guarding the Lauter River were well intermingled and consisted of infantry from the inexperienced 42nd Infantry Division and the experienced 79th Infantry Divisions. They fell back from the German panzers from the villages of Aschbach-Stundwiller on 7 January and began to solidify at the village of Oberroedern, just a mile north of Hatten-Rittershoffen. Oberroedern was the scene of a single day of fierce fighting on 8 January. A number of German Panthers were destroyed or damaged through the valiant defence of the 3rd Battalion, 313rd Infantry Regiment from the 79th Infantry Division. This effort earned the battalion a Presidential Unit Citation.