Europe’s “winter of the century” (1944-1945) occurred during the conflict of the century—World War II. On December 16, bitter weather and brutal warfare tragically met in Southeastern Belgium’s rolling hills of the Ardennes where the 106th Division had arrived only five days earlier. The well-trained, but inexperienced, soldiers were soon overwhelmed by Hitler’s tanks and troops surging into Belgium.
Hell Frozen Over describes the personal experiences of sixteen men—most of them in the 81st Engineers—who were caught in Hitler’s final grasp to strangle the continent. More than half of these men were among the 7,001 in the Division who were taken as prisoners of war. Scattered in camps throughout Germany, they willed themselves to survive as deprivation and even slave labor threatened their lives and sanity. Their comrades-in-arms who escaped capture and remained to fight in foxholes and tanks had other hells to endure, as did the civilians of every town in the area.
That winter war permanently stamped its cold, dark memories on the souls of America’s young men who found themselves in the Battle of the Bulge. Their stories, many of them told after many decades of silence, will inspire Americans to realize that the human spirit can survive even the worst circumstances. The torturous experiences of that dedicated generation will remind both present and future generations that freedom from tyranny has come at a horrible price.