National Geographic : 1945 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine U. S. Army Signal (orps, Official "Did You Ever Hear of a Guy Named Frederick I of Prussia?" Wisecracks fly as this Ninth Army light-armored militarism, the first king of Prussia and grandfather the side (near hatchet) are planted in a circle around In a few days the Ninth Infantry Division had taken possession of the gem of the coun tryside, the wonderfully picturesque little city of Monschau, without firing a shot. The town crier was going about the streets ringing his bell and calling out to the stunned people on the street corners the proclamations of the American Military Government (page 28). The First Division pressed toward Aachen. Part of the way they proceeded through one of the most magnificent forests in Europe, a cool wonderland of eternal shadow, through which flickered stray sunbeams like silver threads. Three days after entering Germany, infantrymen were looking down from the hill tops on the roofs of Charlemagne's ancient capital, above which rose the steeples of the churches. The next day they were in the out skirts of the city. Seen from a distance, Aachen appeared not badly damaged, although it had been the tar get of several air raids. Its walls stood erect, car in Mors passes a statue of a founder of German of Frederick the Great. Antitank mines strapped to the reconnaissance car during night bivouacs. its roofs seemed intact. There was little evi dence of resistance. The First Division drew up a surrender proclamation. There seemed little doubt that the terms would be accepted in a few days and the proud city which had once been the chief center of the Holy Roman Empire taken without the loss of American lives. Aachen Falls-at a Price But Aachen chose to resist. More than a month of hard fighting followed before it was securely in American hands. We paid a high price in blood and agony. But Aachen paid a higher price. Today it is the corpse of a city, lying unshrouded and unburied in the dust-filled winds and cold spring rains. Much of it is as flat as St. L6. Most of the rest consists only of tottering walls. It is covered with wind-blown debris. It is doubtful that there is a single building intact.