What to do in the Hürtgen Forest Today

The Hürtgen Forest is an easy drive from major cities such as Düsseldorf, Germany or Brussels, Belgium.  After you leave the major highways and begin to close in on the Hürtgenwald, as it is known in Germany, you begin to drive through villages that were totally devastated during the battles in late 1944 and early 1945.

A good jumping off point is the village of Vossenack, an area that saw savage fighting throughout the campaign.  Vossenack is also home to the Museum Hürtgenwald.  The museum is located at Pfarrer-Dickmann-Str. 23.  The museum is open every Sunday from 11:00am - 5:00pm or by special arrangement.  The museum houses a large collection of photographs, uniforms, weapons, documents and numerous items found on the battlefield.  A small memorial and exhibition "Gedenkaustellung Windhunde" dedicated to the German 116th Panzer Division is located in the museum.  The phone number is 011 (49) 2429-902613.

Another good starting point that has a number of hotels is the village of Simonskall, just a short drive from Vossenack.  Simonskall, although the scene of heavy fighting in 1944, is now a resort area.  

There are a few monuments, memorials and German military cemeteries in the area.  The German military cemetery "Der Soldatenfriedhof Vossenack" holds the grave of Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model as well as a memorial to the 116th Panzer Division. "Der Soldatenfriedhof Hürtgen" is also nearby and has a memorial honoring German Lt. Friedrich Lengfeld, who was killed while trying to save the life of a wounded American G.I.  The memorial was placed by the U.S. 22nd Infantry Regiment.  There is also a memorial near the Raffelsbrand road junction placed on the location where 3 remains (2 Americans, 1 German) were recovered in 1976.

There is also a Medical Bunker in Simonskall has been restored.  The interior with its original WW2 equipment creates the impression of how the place must have looked in 1944.

The Hürtgen Forest still retains the scars and debris of battle, even after all these years.  It is easy to locate foxholes, trenches, bunkers and "Dragon's Teeth" all over the area.  Most of the bunkers were blown up during the battle, but the mangled concrete and steel from some of these bunkers remain.  There are several intact bunkers in the area known as Buhlert, and the Brandenburg-Bergstein ridge also houses several relatively intact bunkers.  The Raffelsbrand road junction is a good area to locate trenches and foxholes, although recently some have been covered by forestry work.  Good examples of "Dragons Teeth" can be found near Roetgen and Paustenbach.  A dominant part of the battle was the Kall trail and you can still hike it today.  Noteworthy sights include the remains of a medical dugout where medics of both sides worked on the wounded.  There are American tank tracks embedded in the trail that are still visible today as you head toward Schmidt.  At the bottom of the gorge is the Mestrenger Mühle, a mill that saw intense fighting in the vicinity.

It is hard to imagine the hellish fighting that occurred in the area, as it is so peaceful and idyllic today.  Most of the forest is post-war as it was largely destroyed during the battle and suffered several fires after the war.  Always be careful while exploring the area as live ordnance is still pulled out of the ground, even today!

If you are interested in a guided tour of the area, you may contact Klaus Schulz.  Klaus served with the German 353rd Division and is a veteran of the battle.  Klaus has guided numerous groups and individuals through the area and is an excellent guide and a well-respected authority on the battle.  You may contact him at:

Klaus R. Schulz

E-mail: Dkaeres2@aol.com

Phone/fax: 011-49-2132-3191