Several days earlier, the U.S. Army's eighty-third Infantry Division closed in on the last strategic stronghold of the Nazi forces, the industrial area in and around Ruhr, Germany. They had surrounded the roughly 300,000 soldiers of Nazi Army Group B, led by Field Marshal Walter Model. The outcome was inevitable. The Nazi soldiers began surrendering in large numbers.
It seemed, at this point, that the outcome of the entire European front was inevitable, and U.S. troops could sense it. They knew that they would be going home soon. The larger Nazi units also knew the end was near and that resistance was futile. In case after case, they began to surrender with increasing haste. But some of the smaller Nazi units fought viciously to the end of the war in Europe, which would arrive only two months later.
On April 6, 1945, the soldiers of the second Platoon of Company F of the U.S. Army's 109th Regiment, thirtieth Infantry Division, were nearing the small town of Hamelin, Germany, about 100 miles east of the Ruhr pocket. Although Hamelin is the gateway to the Weserbergland Mountains, the soldiers were walking across relatively flat, open ground, which made them quite vulnerable. Suddenly, they encountered one of the smaller units, mentioned above, that would fight viciously to the end.
A group of Nazi soldiers armed with machine guns and ...