The momentum for the Falaise Pocket encirclement began with the failed German counterattack in Operation Lüttich. This manoeuvre used up the last of their strong combat units in the area, at a time when the Allies were gaining reinforcements and consolidating their control of western France. The prolonged engagements at Caen had focussed German strength in the east and gradually worn them down. The Americans were able to make rapid progress along the southern flank, beginning the envelopment of some 60,000 German troops. At the same time a number of Allied operations on the Germans’ northern flank, particularly by the Canadians and Polish, were key in advancing the northern half of the encirclement. Throughout this time various German commanders, notably Field Marshall Kluge who was relieved of his position and then committed suicide, had realized the danger of the situation. However, Hitler maintained an unrealistic expectation of his fighting forces.
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