The German army disintegrated rapidly after January 1945. The German army offered no cohesive resistance in the West. The Wehrmacht was finally finished, kaput. The relative obscurity of Nordwind also points to the importance of the 44th success on the total war effort. Had the news or the rumor of another Bulge gained common knowledge up and down the American line, its effect could have been devastating. American soldiers were quickly becoming war weary. No end was in sight. The 44th and other units, like the tank destroyer battalions of the 749th and 776th Battalions, and the U.S. 45th and 100th Divisions, regiments from the 70th Division, provided the much need confidence and boost in moral, sending the message that this was different. There would be no Bulge at Bitche. The high hopes for an end to the war by Christmas 1944 vanished with Market Garden. Then the Ardennes attack came as a complete surprise. The seemingly defeated German Army of fall 1944 rises again and is on the march to Antwerp. Did the German war-machine have no limit? A sense of fatality and hopelessness permeated the G.I.s in Northern Europe. And with good reason. American combat losses grew quickly and were unsustainable, especially with the infantry.
In the photo to the right, General Dean and PFC Henry C. Giese inspect 57mm anti-tank positions in the defensive platoon near Herbitzheim, France. General Dean inspired the men of the 44th and is, to this day, revered. General Dean was in constant touch with the front-line soldiers. The photograph is no publicity photo-shoot. He cared deeply for his troops and put himself in harms way to lead.
Eisenhower carries much of the blame. The consequence of the American strategy, at the Bulge, to reduce the salient using a broad-front strategy was this high loss of life. Instead of accepting General Patton's battle plan recommendation: encircle and trap the Germans by cutting of the base and to starve and freeze the trapped Germans to submission or death, Eisenhower opted for the safer broad-front strategy to push the Germans out of the salient. This was a bloody needless business. The Allies had the resources and capability to execute Patton's plan. Hitler's insane 'no retreat' edits help. Ike correctly ascertained the safe and sure means to victory was the broad-front approach.
And to the south on New Year's Day, came Nordwind. It represented a potential second Bulge. But after the Nordwind failure, the German army offered no cohesive resistance in the West. It's final role, a blazing Götterdämmerung like finale.