It refers to General McAuliffe's response to German demand for surrender. It's weak. Today we use stronger more common language, GTFO, GFY, and so on.
"Nuts" is too much understated. It doesn't work well as communication. It doesn't work now and it didn't work back then at Battle of the Bulge in WWII. It's confusing, not clarifying. It's utterly unclear. It's too much like Charlie Brown swearing, "Rats." Does it mean, "you're crazy," or "something about testicles," or "this is a pile of acorns," or what?
That was General Anthony Clement McAuliffe's manner of swearing back then. That's as rank and seedy as he ever got. His first reaction, sounding like Charlie Brown (who wasn't yet drawn) Charming, actually, he never did swear. Everyone around him swore like mad but he did not and that made him and his manner of delivering expletives stick out. Perplexed as for a response to the German demand, his staff told him that his original response is good as any. So that became the official response. And it did confuse the Germans.
First, Trump's lawyer, Pat Cipollone's, letter to Nadler.
The letter is a fine work of compression. A lawyer's modern equivalent to antique "Nuts!"
* violated basic principles of due process
* ordered to proceed before Committee heard evidence
* wasted time
* reckless abuse of power
* unconstitutional attempt at impeachment
All in a short two-paragraph letter. The heading is nearly as long.
So that's the history that is made today. We have front row seats to the greatest show on earth that is unfortunately curated and carefully explained each day and night across platforms by a media corrupted by political party and that emphasizes the insignificant over and over ad nauseam and all together in unison using the exact precise vocabulary, while ignoring the crucially important elements so that the story is told in extremely distorted fashion.
Where did this "Nuts" come from?
It came from the Battle of the Bulge in WWII. Near the end of the war. Right before Christmas. Belgium. It was cold. Totally cold. Servicemen who came from places with harsh winters and who experienced extreme cold were all shocked by the experience of this extreme total abject brain numbing coldness.
In the Ardennes region of Belgium it was Hitler's last major offensive against the Western Front. As the Germans drove into the Ardennes, the Allied line took the shape of a large bulge that gave the arrangement its name. The six-weeks engagement was the costliest ever fought by the U.S. Army that had over a hundred thousand casualties.
The Germans broke though the front on the first day and stories spread quickly of massacres. The Belgian civilians switched their Allied flags for swastikas. British veterans waited anxiously to see how the Americans would react to full-on German offensive. British generals safeguarded the Meuse River crossings. American civilians who thought final victory was near at hand were shaken by the reality of the Nazi onslaught.
The harsh winter weather was part of the German strategy. But that ran both ways. They too had to suffer the weather. A second German strategy was to infiltrate the Allied troops. Germans dropped paratroopers behind Allied lines that were dressed like American soldiers and who spoke English to create confusion. They also changed road signs. They spoke excellent English and their slang was fine-tuned by association with American prisoners of war. By the rules of the Hague Convention, these particular Germans were counted as spies and were tried hastily by military tribunal and killed by firing squad.
To stop them the US troops asked suspects American trivia questions.
Cool. I would totally ace this.
General Bradley related he was ordered to prove his identity three times. The first time he was challenged to identify the capital of Illinois.
Bang! I'm dead. I didn't know that the capital of Illinois is Springfield. I would have guessed Chicago.
The second time Bradley was challenged to locate the guard between the center and the tackle on a line of scrimmage.
Bang! I'm dead. Because I do not know what they are talking about. I thought everyone tackles everyone else. This is football, right?
The third challenge was to name the current spouse of Betty Grable.
Bang! I'm dead again. Because I do not know who Grable married.
Man, these American pop trivia tests are hard.
On Christmas day the weather cleared allowing Allied air forces to strike. The tanks and the air forces could finally move and get assistance to all the beleaguered forces who had been blocked off including General McAuliffe near Bastogne. Finally the Americans could solidly kick German butt just as baby Jesus would have them do.
Everyone prayed, "Thank you, baby Jesus. Amen."
It was all a very close call.
Three days before that the Germans gave McAuliffe in Bastogne an ultimatum; Surrender the town or we will kill everyone. And the kind of mass murder we intend runs counter to well-known American humanity.
The German letter was typed on two sheets. One in German the second in English. They were written on an English typewriter as indicated by the diacritical marks required on the German copy were entered by hand.
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 Ourthe 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.That is the letter that four German soldiers delivered to General McAuliffe. They had appeared waving two white flags on the Arlon road south of Bastogne from the direction of Remoifosse. They were two officers and two enlisted men. One was carrying a briefcase under his arm. They walked past a bazooka team in a foxhole and stopped in front of a gunner. They were wearing long overcoats and shined boots. One of them said that they wanted to see the commanding officer. The Americans he approached were at a loss, but another American on the road called the Germans over to him. The Germans explained that they have a message for the American commanding officer.
The Germans consented to being blindfolded. They had even brought blindfolds with them.
With peep holes!
As the blindfolds were put on, an American medic, a private who spoke German joined them and offered his service as interpreter. However, no interpreter was needed.
The two German enlisted men stayed there while the two German officers were taken to a farmhouse where they were told to take the Germans to the F Company Command Post. They went a roundabout way.
Here. I'll draw you a map.
Which was McAuliffe's way of saying, "FUCK!"
Then he crawled out of his sleeping bag going, "where are my pants?"
Then the solder who woke up McAulliffe went back out to the communications center and told the rest of the division staff that McAulliffe said, "Nuts."
When McAulliffe arrived at division headquarters he was told that the Germans were still waiting for a response. McAulliffe asked that Colonel Harper come to the Division headquarters. Harper who was inspecting his units' positions was contacted by radio. When Colonel Harper arrived he was asked to wait outside the closed door to McAuliffe's quarters while inside and in the presence of his staff, McAulliffe said, "Well, I don't know what to tell them." One of his staff said that what he said when he first woke up would be hard to beat. McAuliffe was all, what? What? What do you mean by that?" The guy goes, "You said, 'nuts.'" The whole staff thought that was cool. So McAuliffe wrote "nuts" and told them to type it up. Which took like three seconds.
McAulliffe dismissed his staff and asked Harper to come in. McAuliffe acted all formal and had him stand just so and read the German letter. McAuliffe asked Harper how he thought the German letter should be answered. Taken aback, Harper began composing a response in his head. The guy who typed McAuliffe's response "Nuts!" on a formal response letter entered the room and handed McAulliffe the typed formal response. McAuliffe handed it to Harper who laughed.
This is serious shit, lives are at stake, and Harper is laughing at McAuliffe's response. Harper is instructed to deliver the message to the Germans.
Harper took the message to the Germans. The Germans asked, whether the message is written or verbal. Harper said, it is written and he put the message into the hand of the blindfolded German. The German asked about the content of the message because if it was affirmative then they were authorized to negotiate further the terms of surrender. Harper said the message contains the single word, "nuts."
The German was all, what? What is that supposed to mean? Is that negative or affirmative?
Harper said, "It is not affirmative."
The German was all, "You Americans and your affinity for the double negative."
Harper said, "If you continue this foolish attack your losses will be tremendous."
The two blindfolded German officers were driven back to the entry point at the farm.
Here, let me draw you a picture.
At the farm the Germans were joined by the medic who originally offered his service as translator. The blindfolds were removed and the Germans read the reply. They asked, "What does this even mean?" Colonel Harper and the medic discussed how to explain it. The medic said, tell them it means, "suck my balls." Harper said, "Wouldn't 'you're crazy' be better?" The medic said, "Tell them it means 'take a flying shit.'" Harper said, "Wouldn't 'your brains are a bowl of pecans' be better?"
Back and forth they went between the innocent and the profane.
Finally the medic stood up and told the Germans, "It means 'du kannst zum Teufel gehen'" which is German for "you can go to hell."
Then Colonel Harper interjected, "If you persist in attacking we will kill every goddamn mother f'k'n pissant boot-licking German cock sucker that tries to break into this town."
That's what "Nuts!" means.
Then the German officers said, "We are going to kick your butts. You're going to be killed."
Then Colonel Harper said, "Piss right along."
The threatened German artillery did not occur. Instead, the Luftwaffe attacked, bombing the town at night.
The German officers proceeded to the Panzer headquarters in Lutrebois. After reporting in they departed for the Panzer Leher Division headquarters a mile further south. Just before reaching the Leher Division they encountered the car of General von Manteuffel parked in a thicket of trees. They stopped to report to the general. Then they proceeded to the Leher Division.
The Corps Commander was there. They gave the commander the letter saying, "Nuts!" General Bayerlein said it was time to start hitting with heavy artillery located behind the hill. Another General interrupted, General von Luettwitz said that the heavy artillery had been moved past Bastogne.
Bayerlein started explaining how he would attack Bastogne without heavy artillery when he was interrupted again by von Luettwitz reminding him that Bastogne was not his objective and had ordered the panzer division past Bastogne leaving Bastogne to the 26th Volksgrenadier Division.
As we know, the weather cleared, Allied backup forces reinforced the line and Hitler shot himself in his bunker and the Germans surrendered and generations of Germans have been made to feel guilty about all this ever since.
The author of this account is Kenneth McAuliffe, the nephew of Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe and verified to be 100% true except for the 4% that I added for dramatic effect.