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The Unknown Dead: Civilians in the Battle of the Bulge

by Peter Schrijvers

Availablecloth$35.00 978-0-8131-2352-3
Availableweb pdf$35.00 978-0-8131-7208-8
Availableepub$35.00 978-0-8131-3758-2
464 pages  Pubdate: 04/08/2005  6 x 9  photos, maps

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Traditional histories of the hard-fought Battle of the Bulge routinely include detailed lists of the casualties suffered by American, British, and German troops. Conspicuously lacking in most accounts, however, are references to the civilians in Belgium and Luxembourg who lost their lives in the same battle. Yet the most reliable current estimates calculate the number of civilians who perished in the Ardennes in six weeks of fighting at approximately three thousand. In gruesome detail, The Unknown Dead tells the story of ordinary people caught up in the maelstrom of war. Renowned historian Peter Schrijvers, a native Belgian, describes the horrific war crimes committed by German military units on the front lines and by Nazi security services behind the battle lines, as well as the devastating effects of Allied responses to the enemy threat, including massive bombings of small towns. Schrijvers also examines postwar concerns such as reconstruction, the formidable problem of abandoned land mines and explosives, and the occasionally emotional nature of relations between civilians and veterans. Based on recently discovered sources including numerous personal testimonies, municipal and parish records, and findings of the Belgian War Crimes Commission, The Unknown Dead vividly recounts the experiences of innocents in the chaos of battle.

Admirably relates the stories of many of the estimated 3,000 dead and others, thus drawing attention to their collective fate and individual humanity. This is a well-written, powerful, and deeply unsettling work. Highly recommended. -- Choice

Not recommended for the faint hearted or easily disturbed, this book nevertheless conveys with incredible thoroughness and accuracy the suffering of civilians caught in the path of war. -- Air Power History

Original and arresting, The Unknown Dead focuses on civilians 'in the path of war'; Schrijvers writes with force and grace and has produced a unique examination of the Battle of the Bulge. -- Allan Millett, Major General Raymond E. Mason Jr. Professor of Military History,

The first real study of the civilian casualties in the Battle of the Bulge. Filled with the stories of the survivors and the memories of those that died, it presents a horrifying picture of the savagery of war. -- Bowling Green (KY) Daily News

A well-written social history that reconstructs events from the bottom up -- Journal of Military History

As the biggest battle in U.S. military history, this epic engagement has not received the scholarly and even popular attention it deserves despite its strategic importance. Schrijvers is one of the most promising scholars of my generation to study the history of the Second World War. -- Kurt Piehler, Director, Center for the Study of War and Society, University of T

Draws on newly discovered sources to tell the forgotten story of those civilian victims. . . . Sheds new light on the complicated nature of relations between the civilians and the German and U.S. armies. -- Military Trader

A welcome break from the typical historiography of the Battle of the Bulge. . . . Successfully keeps the reader informed of the battle's major events while highlighting the civilians' experiences against a well-written background of the battle's progression. -- On Point

A stunning tale of the realities of war. There was more suffering and death to Belgians during the last days of World War II in the Ardennes than in the four years that preceded it. Schrijvers puts a human face on the 'spoilage' of war as he makes the Belgian inhabitants of the picturesque Ardennes come alive even as they are being killed and wounded by the victorious Allies and the Germans making a last-ditch attempt to win the war. -- Thomas D. Morgan, Lieutenant Colonel, USA, Retired