|Posted: 17 March 2006 at 9:19am | IP Logged
I've just finished reading Tom Sander's newest chapter of his Gott Mit Uns Belt Buckle odyssey that explores how Hemingway came to own his famous belt buckle, and it is great. This new chapter explores the Hurtgen Forest, scene of some of the bloodiest fighting near the end of World War II and where Hemingway may have picked up his favorite belt buckle from a German soldier he likely killed.
Here's an excerpt:
While those days in November and December 1944 were only a brief chapter in Hemingway’s life, they also were among the most intense. No one who went into those woods expected to come out alive.
The Hurtgen Forest is located along the border with Belgium. In 1944 It was part of the Siegfried Line of defence against invasion of the fatherland. The Germans were dug in and well-fortified. The terrain, steep hills and gullies was ideal for defence. Tree-high artillery bursts, spewing thousands of lethal splinters, made movement on the forest floor difficult. Armour had no room to manoeuvre. It was dead of winter and the worst possible weather conditions; snow, sleet, and rain. A muddy quagmire slowed jeeps, tanks, trucks and troops trying to make it to the front, and added to the hell that was Hurtgen.
This was an infantryman’s battle, up close and sometimes hand to hand. Bunkers provided protection for German mortars and artillery to rain down deadly accurate fire on the advancing allied troops.
In German, these woods are known as the Hurtgenwald. The Americans called them The Death Factory.
I went to Hurtgenwald to see where this firefight happened in the hope it might lead me to the origin of EH's Gott Mit Uns Nazi belt buckle. I knew Hemingway took it from the body of a dead soldier. But when and where? Did he take it from someone he killed? Was it Hurtgenwald, or months earlier at Rambouillet in France and what were the circumstances?
Well illustrated with photographs and a mulitmedia display which includes audio of Hemingway reading one of his rare poems, this is an engaging look at one of the curious aspects of Hemingway's life.
Read the entire piece here:
Edited by HemingwayCenter on 17 March 2006 at 9:21am
Hemingway Resource Center