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Battle of Aachen

History -- Military history -- List of battles

The Battle of Aachen was a battle in World War II that took place in October 1944 in the small German city of Aachen. At the time of this battle (1944), there were about 20,000 civilians living there, defended by about 5,000 German troops.

The Americann commanders decided to besiege the city, and cut it off from supply and other essentials. However, the Germans had a different view. The city was important in German history, being the birthplace and coronation of Charlemagne, and the home of the Holy Roman Empire, or what Hitler deemed the "First Reich". This was the first major German city to face invasion, moreover, so Hitler ordered that the city be held at all costs.

Meanwhile, the U.S. 9th Army had been maneuvering north and south of the city, but eventually, they realized the Aachen garrison was a potential threat. The commanders decided, after all, to take the city directly. However, within the city, they faced murderous urban warfare, which was advantageous to the Germans, who were on their own ground and knew the city well. The American troops in the hardest fighting included the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 26th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Division, supported by the 745th Tank Battalion. From the north, the 30th Division attacked. However, the 30th Division took over 2,000 casualties in a matter of days, and elements of the 29th Division were forced to come and help. Eventually, the city was taken, at a cost of 5,000 casualties on both sides, with an additional 5,600 prisoners on the German side.

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