'Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer. . . .'
Happy to have escaped the thankless task of having to act as the occupying Power in Polandn, our headquarters arrived on the Western Front on 24th October 1939 to take command of the newly formed Army Group A. The armies under command (Twelfth and Sixteenth) had their forward divisions in position along the frontiers of southern Belgium and Luxembourg and their rear units strung out as far back as the right bank of the Rhine. It had been decided that Army Group H.Q. would be located in Coblenz.
We duly moved into the Hotel Riesen-Fürstenhof beside the Rhine -- a place which in my early days at the cadet school in the nearby market town of Engers I had regarded as the very peak of elegance and culinary refinement. But now wartime restrictions had left their mark even on this famous establishment. Our offices were situated in a oncecharming old building near the Deutsches Eck which until the outbreak of war had accommodated the Coblenz Division. The lovely Rococo rooms of yesteryear were now bare and gloomy. Not far from this building, in a small square lined with ancient trees, stood an obelisk of considerable interest. It bore a bombastic inscription, having been erected by the French commandant of Coblenz in 1812 to mark the crossing of the Rhine by Napoleon's Grand Army on its march to Russia. Below the original inscription another had been engraved. Its approximate purport was: 'Noted and approved', and it bore the signature of the Russian General who had become commandant of Coblenz in 1814.
What a pity Hitler never saw this!
At my suggestion our command staff had received the valuable addition of a second, older General Staff officer for the operations . . .