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General Anthony Clement McAuliffe (July 2, 1898 - August 11, 1975) was the United States Army general who commanded the defending 101st Airborne troops during the Battle of Bastognemarker, Belgiummarker, during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. He is famous for his single-word reply to a German surrender ultimatum: "Nuts!"


Born in Washington, D.C.marker on July 2, 1898, McAuliffe was a student at West Virginia Universitymarker from 1916-17, and graduated from West Pointmarker in November 1918. He rose through the ranks from second lieutenant in 1918 to general in 1955.

World War II

McAuliffe was serving as Commander of Division Artillery of the 101st Airborne Division when he parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and when he entered into Hollandmarker during Operation Market Garden in a military glider. In December 1944, when the German army launched their surprise offensive, General Maxwell D. Taylor, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, was away, attending a staff conference in the United States.

Battle of the Bulge

In Taylor's absence, acting command of the 101st and its attached troops fell to McAuliffe. At Bastognemarker, the 101st was besieged by a far-larger force of Germans under the command of General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz, who soon demanded that the Americans surrender. McAuliffe sent back his now-famous reply: "NUTS!" The 101st was able to hold off the German assault until the 4th Armored Division arrived to provide reinforcement but the town was regained the next day due to the reinforcements. For his actions at Bastogne, McAuliffe was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by General Patton on December 30, 1944, followed later by the Distinguished Service Medal.


After the Battle of the Bulge, McAuliffe was given command of his own division, the 103rd Infantry Division of the US 7th Army, which he led from January 15, 1945 to July, 1945.

Following the war, McAuliffe held many positions, including Chief Chemical Officer of the Army Chemical Corps, and G-1, Head of Army Personnel. He returned to Europe as Commander of the Seventh Army in 1953, and Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army Europe in 1955. He was promoted to general on March 1, 1955.


In 1956, he retired from the Army. He worked for American Cyanamid Corporation from 1956-63 as Vice President for Personnel. He began a program to teach employees to maintain contact with local politicians. The company now requires all branch managers to at least introduce themselves to local politicians. McAuliffe also served as chairman of the New York Statemarker Civil Defense Commission from 1960-1963.

He resided in Chevy Chase, Marylandmarker, until his death on August 11, 1975, age 77, and is buried along with his wife, son, and daughter in Arlington National Cemeterymarker.


On December 22, 1944, through a party consisting of a major, captain, and two privates under a flag of truce that entered the American lines southeast of Bastogne (occupied by Company F, 2nd Battalion, 327th Glider Infantry), General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz sent the following ultimatum to Gen. McAuliffe:
To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne.

The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river Our near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.

There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.

If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours term.

All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well-known American humanity.

The German Commander.
According to various accounts from those present, when McAuliffe was told of the German demand for surrender he said "Aw, nuts". At a loss for an official reply, Lt. Col. Harry Kinnard suggested that his first remark summed the situation up well, which was agreed to by the others. The official reply: "To the German Commander, NUTS!, The American Commander" was typed and delivered by Colonel Joseph Harper, commanding the 327th Glider Infantry, and his S-3 Major Jones to the German delegation. Harper had to explain the meaning of the word to the Germans, telling them that in "plain English" it meant "Go to hell."

According to an article in the Daily Mail the reply was not "Nuts" but a four letter expletive that was changed for propaganda purposes for domestic consumption. But that was not the case, according to Vincent Vicari, McAuliffe's personal aide who was there at the time. As quoted by Richard Pyle of the Associated Press December 12, 2004, Vicari said, "General Mac was the only general I ever knew who did not use profane language. 'Nuts' was part of his normal vocabulary."

The threatened artillery fire did not materialize, although several infantry and tank assaults were directed at the positions of the 2nd Battalion, 327th Glider Infantry where the truce party made entry.


A southern extension of Route 33 in eastern Northampton County, Pennsylvaniamarker, completed in 2002, was named the Gen. Anthony Clement McAuliffe 101st Airborne Memorial Highway.

See also

Molon labe


  1. Business in Politics - TIME
  2. S.L.A. Marshall, Bastogne: The First Eight Days, Chapter 14, describing the incident in detail and sourcing it.

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