Vets Remember: H.W.O. Kinnard

A colonel in the 101st airborne, H.W.O. Kinnard discusses surrender.

Transcript: My recollection of the German surrender ultimatum, and the "Nuts" reply by McAuliffe goes like this. On the 22nd of December, when the division was and had been totally surrounded by the Germans, the intelligence officer and I decided that we had to take this to General McAuliffe. We first took it to the chief of staff, and the three of us, and Colonel Harper then went in, woke up General McAuliffe who was taking a bit of a nap, and told him that we had a surrender ultimatum. And that Tony McAuliffe had first thought that the Germans were trying to surrender to us. But, we told him no, not so. That they want us to surrender to them, and they go on to say all the bad things that they're going to do if we don't do this. And he said, Tony McAuliffe then said, "I surrender, ah nuts!" And then he sort of pondered about whether he should answer or should it be in writing, and so forth. And everybody agreed that there should be a written answer. And Tony McAuliffe then said, "Well, I don't know what to tell them." And I spoke up and said, "Well, what you first said would be hard to beat." And Tony said, "What do you mean?" And I said, "You said nuts!" And all of us in the room sort of thought that was a good answer. So Tony sat down and wrote out with a pencil, "To the German Commander, Nuts! A.C. McAuliffe, Commanding." Had his secretary type it out. Gave the message to Colonel Harper, who took it back to his headquarters and gave it to the German Armistice party. The Germans were allowed to take off their blindfold and read the message, and they were puzzled by it. And they were trying to translate nuts. And they said, "Nuets, Nuets, Nuts... Vas Is Das?" They didn't get it at all. And Colonel Harper said, "If you don't understand it, it means go to hell!"

My American Experience

My American Experience photos

Share Your Story

Were you there for the Battle of the Bulge? The storming of Normandy beach? The Victory in the Pacific? Or perhaps your friends and relatives have passed on stories of their own World War II experiences that you would like to share.