The Battle of the Bulge was arguably the most pivotal - and bloodiest - battle of World War II.
From the middle of December 1944 to January 25, 1945, more than a million Allied and German troops fought for control of Belgium, France, and Luxembourg. The bitter conflict ended with more than 200,000 dead and wounded on both sides. The German counteroffensive was Adolf Hitler's last gasp, born out of desperation as he came to grips with reports that the Third Reich was losing ground in battlefields across Europe.
Even in its weakened state, Germany's assault took Allied leaders by surprise. Hitler had correctly calculated that the Allied armies had moved too rapidly: The troops were not only undersupplied but unprepared for a surprise attack.
Hitler was betting that a victory would allow Germany to negotiate for peace on its terms. He was almost right. If not for the bravery of American troops, who against all odds held up the German attack ñ and quick decisions made by General Dwight B. Eisenhower - history may have taken a much different turn.
This is the story of World War II's final showdown.