Germany / Story
On the afternoon of 12 September 1944, the small municipality of Roetgen, located about 20 kilometres southeast of Aachen, became the first German municipality to be liberated by American soldiers. The American troops achieved this less than 100 days after their arrival on European soil.
The small municipality of Roetgen was liberated by soldiers of the First US Army under the leadership of General Courtney Hodges. Less than 100 days after their landing on D-Day, 6 June 1944, the members of the VII Corps made it from the Atlantic coast of France across occupied Western Europe to the border of the German Reich.
The day before, they had captured the neighbouring town of Eupen almost without a fight, liberating the last Belgian town from Nazi occupation. However, the US troops had yet to face the so-called Siegfried Line, the West Wall, which had to be crossed for the first time in the Eifel region.
Units of the VII Corps advanced into German territory at three points. In the southern part, the Fourth Infantry Division, in which the American writer Ernest Hemingway served as a war correspondent, entered the southern Eifel near St. Vith.
However, in the Aachen region any further advance took longer. The German defence prevented a quick advance to the Rhine due to the heavy fighting in the Hürtgenwald, and it took until 21 October to reach the city of Aachen.