Surrender? “Nuts!” Gen. Anthony McAuliffe’s 1944 Christmas Message to his Troops

  • Surrender? “Nuts!” Gen. Anthony McAuliffe’s 1944 Christmas Message to his Troops
Surrender? “Nuts!” Gen. Anthony McAuliffe’s 1944 Christmas Message to his Troops

In mid-December 1944, Allied forces were surprised by a massive German offensive through the Ardennes Forrest that created a “bulge” in the Allied lines. Caught in what would become known as the “Battle of the Bulge,” the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Armed Forces was holed up in Bastogne while German armored divisions encircled the town.  Outnumbered, outgunned, and running out of food, ammunition, and medical supplies, the embattled assistant division commander, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, faced bleak prospects.

On December 22, the American troops were sent an ultimatum from the German forces outside of the town, demanding “the honorable surrender” of the town within two hours. General McAuliffe reply was brief and succinct:

“To the German Commander:

N U T S !

The American Commander”

Having made their position clear, the Americans dug in and waited for the attack. Contrary to German expectations, the 101st held out and reinforcements arrived in the form of the US Army’s 4th Armored Division. The Battle of the Bulge continued for several more weeks, with thousands of casualties on both sides, but by the end of January 1945, the Allies had retaken all the territory lost to the Germans and were headed toward Berlin.

This record was on display in the “Featured Documents” exhibit in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives in Washington, DC, November 4, 2014, through January 5, 2015 in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge.

Past Featured Records
  • Featured Document Display: Never Forget: Remembering the Holocaust
    Featured Document Display: Never Forget: Remembering the Holocaust

    Seventy-five years ago on January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp complex in German-occupied Poland. Russian soldiers discovered thousands of sick, dying, and dead prisoners when they entered the complex of concentration camps, forced labor camps, and a killing center abandoned by the... Read more

  • 50 Years Ago: Government Stops Investigating UFOs
    50 Years Ago: Government Stops Investigating UFOs

    To mark the 50th anniversary of the end of Project Blue Book, the National Archives will display records from the Air Force’s unidentified flying objects (UFOs)  investigations.

    Report of a “flying saucer” over U.S. airspace in 1947 caused a wave of “UFO hysteria” and sparked... Read more

  • 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11
    50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

    Visit the National Archives to see exclusive, featured documents from the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. From transcripts to flight plans, the museum will highlight some of the most important pieces of the monumental occasion. Documents will be on display through August 7, 2019 in the Rotunda... Read more

  • 75th Anniversary of D-Day
    75th Anniversary of D-Day

    On June 6, 1944, Allied forces launched the greatest amphibious invasion the world has ever seen. The historic D-day invasion of Normandy, France, was a turning point in World War II, but it was just the initial assault in a massive operation that liberated Western Europe... Read more

  • Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm: “Unbought and Unbossed”
    Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm: “Unbought and Unbossed”

    Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman to serve in Congress when she took office in January of 1969. During her seven Congressional terms, “Fighting Shirley” was an outspoken champion for racial and gender equality, and economic justice. To mark the 50th anniversary of Chisholm’s... Read more