Monday, January 19, 2009


Lt. Gen. Harry W. O. Kinnard, who inspired the storied retort "nuts" to a German surrender ultimatum during the Battle of the Bulge, died Monday in Arlington, Va. He was 93.


But he was perhaps best remembered for what happened in December 1944 at the Belgian town of Bastogne, where the 101st Airborne Division, short on clothing and boots in a snowstorm and bitter cold, was surrounded by German troops.

Bastogne, at the intersection of important roads, was a crucial objective for the Germans in their surprise attack in the Ardennes region of Belgium, an offensive that had created a "bulge" in Allied lines.

On Dec. 22, two German officers approached the American lines in Bastogne carrying a demand that the American commander surrender his troops within two hours or face annihilation from an artillery barrage.

The message was passed on to Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, acting as division commander while Maj. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor was in Washington.

General Kinnard, a lieutenant colonel at the time and the division's operations officer, would recall that General McAuliffe "laughed and said: 'Us surrender? Aw, nuts.' "

As General Kinnard related it long afterward in an interview with Patrick O'Donnell, a military historian: "He pondered for a few minutes and then told the staff, 'Well, I don't know what to tell them.' He then asked the staff what they thought, and I spoke up, saying, 'That first remark of yours would be hard to beat.'

"McAuliffe said, 'What do you mean?' I answered, 'Sir, you said, 'Nuts.' All members of the staff enthusiastically agreed. McAuliffe then wrote down: 'To the German Commander, Nuts! The American Commander.' "
Thank you, sir, for your service and for one of the most famous morale-lifting quotes to come out of WWII.


Steve Bates said...

Nuts! That's what I want for lunch. Now where did I put that bag...

ellroon said...

Damned squirrels...