Performance of the 6th Panzer Army in the Ardennes

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Re: Performance of the 6th Panzer Army in the Ardennes

Post by Sheldrake » 30 Apr 2021 20:35

Aida1 wrote:
30 Apr 2021 18:52
Sheldrake wrote:
30 Apr 2021 16:14
I will go further. Peiper's command of his battlegroup were flawed. On the evening of the 17th Dec Peiper had achieved a breakthrough. His column had destroyed the artillery column at Bageuz and the damaged tank at Ligneuville and were on the country road to Stavalot. However, after bumping into a detachment of engineers a mile or so short of Stavalot his entire column seems to have stopped for several hours. It seems that Peiper went back to the excellent restaurant in Ligneuville for support with the Divisional commander. Had he pressed on during the night his column could have been on the Meuse by morning of the 18th.
Not entirey correct. When the column was stopped, Peiper was further back discussing the overall situation with the division commander. He arrived late in the evening. Why the attack on Stavelot was not done then is explained in Men of steel Michael reynolds p 70 . The reasons were : expecting the bridge to be prepared for demolition and defended, the spreading out of the KG, the need for panzer grenadiere and engineers for the assault and finally fatigue. Even If the KG reached the Meuse, it would not have mattered in the big picture so this is a very theoretical discussion which is also very much unrealistic and in hindsight.
My understanding is that the meeting took place in Ligneuville - in the hotel whose restaurant has a good reputation.

In a vigorously conducted offensive, the leader of the leading battle group does not go back for meetings with the divisional commander. The divisional commander comes forward to see what is going on. The reasons given by Michael Reynolds are the same as those dismissed as feeble excuses when presented by the commander of FJR No 9 the previous evening at Lanzerath. Peiper has committed the same error the following night. My suspicion is that none of those involved had real confidence that the attack would succeed and the prevailing mood was Enjoy the War while it lasts; the Peace will be terrible. That fits with the battlegroup smoker in La Glieze the evening before they broke out on foot - as reported by the American PW.

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Re: Performance of the 6th Panzer Army in the Ardennes

Post by Aida1 » 30 Apr 2021 21:28

Sheldrake wrote:
30 Apr 2021 20:35
Aida1 wrote:
30 Apr 2021 18:52
Sheldrake wrote:
30 Apr 2021 16:14
I will go further. Peiper's command of his battlegroup were flawed. On the evening of the 17th Dec Peiper had achieved a breakthrough. His column had destroyed the artillery column at Bageuz and the damaged tank at Ligneuville and were on the country road to Stavalot. However, after bumping into a detachment of engineers a mile or so short of Stavalot his entire column seems to have stopped for several hours. It seems that Peiper went back to the excellent restaurant in Ligneuville for support with the Divisional commander. Had he pressed on during the night his column could have been on the Meuse by morning of the 18th.
Not entirey correct. When the column was stopped, Peiper was further back discussing the overall situation with the division commander. He arrived late in the evening. Why the attack on Stavelot was not done then is explained in Men of steel Michael reynolds p 70 . The reasons were : expecting the bridge to be prepared for demolition and defended, the spreading out of the KG, the need for panzer grenadiere and engineers for the assault and finally fatigue. Even If the KG reached the Meuse, it would not have mattered in the big picture so this is a very theoretical discussion which is also very much unrealistic and in hindsight.
My understanding is that the meeting took place in Ligneuville - in the hotel whose restaurant has a good reputation.

In a vigorously conducted offensive, the leader of the leading battle group does not go back for meetings with the divisional commander. The divisional commander comes forward to see what is going on. The reasons given by Michael Reynolds are the same as those dismissed as feeble excuses when presented by the commander of FJR No 9 the previous evening at Lanzerath. Peiper has committed the same error the following night. My suspicion is that none of those involved had real confidence that the attack would succeed and the prevailing mood was Enjoy the War while it lasts; the Peace will be terrible. That fits with the battlegroup smoker in La Glieze the evening before they broke out on foot - as reported by the American PW.
The issue is not where Peiper was. The issue is that there were perfectly valid reasons for not charging headlong into Stavelot in the evening. Expecting anything else is unrealistic hindsight which would not even historically change much anyway.
Peiper did certainly not go back for a meeting with Mohnke. It was Mohnke who came forward with his tactical HQ to Peiper in Ligneuville(Devils adjudant M Reynolds pp 105-106).

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Re: Performance of the 6th Panzer Army in the Ardennes

Post by Cult Icon » 30 Apr 2021 22:34

Sheldrake wrote:
30 Apr 2021 16:14
I will go further. Peiper's command of his battlegroup were flawed. On the evening of the 17th Dec Peiper had achieved a breakthrough. His column had destroyed the artillery column at Bageuz and the damaged tank at Ligneuville and were on the country road to Stavalot. However, after bumping into a detachment of engineers a mile or so short of Stavalot his entire column seems to have stopped for several hours. It seems that Peiper went back to the excellent restaurant in Ligneuville for support with the Divisional commander. Had he pressed on during the night his column could have been on the Meuse by morning of the 18th.
The FJR9's claim of an American resistance line ending up giving Peiper a 6 hour delay IIRC. Plus blown bridges and fuel intensive treks to dead ends/blown bridges. Friction of war.

The trade-off for strategic surprise for Operation Autumn Mist was strict secrecy and a lack of preparation, recon/intelligence gathering & banning the transmission of the operation, even for the key units. The 17.SS and 6.SS Nord divisions also had issues stemming to such a near-term order for NORDWIND.

However someone at the level of Dietrich could have gotten the commanders together to work out a plan days in advance, perhaps quarantine them and then release them the day before X-tag.

I think a more rational column- with insurance factored in and different tactics- would have been something like this. The units should be pared down so the battlegroup could be more self-sustaining in-case of problems. The sustainability should be enough so the group could supply itself in heavy combat for a few days:

1. Panzerbrigade 150 reinforced with elements of Pz.A.A. and Pz.Pioneer with 6. and 7. companies (Pz IV)
2. bridging columns, Rest of Pz. A.A. and Pz. Pioneer battalion with 1. and 2. companies (Panther)
3. Minimal FLAK and self-propelled artillery
4. supply and services column

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Re: Performance of the 6th Panzer Army in the Ardennes

Post by Sheldrake » 30 Apr 2021 23:43

Aida1 wrote:
30 Apr 2021 21:28
The issue is not where Peiper was. The issue is that there were perfectly valid reasons for not charging headlong into Stavelot in the evening. Expecting anything else is unrealistic hindsight which would not even historically change much anyway.
Peiper did certainly not go back for a meeting with Mohnke. It was Mohnke who came forward with his tactical HQ to Peiper in Ligneuville(Devils adjudant M Reynolds pp 105-106).
Sorry, but that is exactly what the issue was.

The Ardennes offensive was a gamble to reach the river Meuse in 48 hours. In order to do that the Germans needed to be prepared to take risks. Charging headlong into Stavalot was exactly what he was supposed to be doing. It was the only chance to to reach the Meuse. He did not have the luxury of waiting until daylight. The delay made no difference to his tactics, which was to send three tanks to charge over the bridge.

Cult Icon rightly mentions the friction of war - the SNAFU factor. One thing commanders do is finding out what is holding things up and sorting out the problem - removing the F from FUBAR. 9 FJR halted at Lanzerath because no commander went forwards to personally check the report that the advance had been held up by stubborn defence. IRRC that Peiper drilled down the chain of command to check who had personally checked the truth of the situation. 24 hours later Peiper allows exactly the same situation to occur, largely because he was in the hotel du Moulin at Ligneuville while his battlegroup was halted on the road a few km ahead after a few shots from an American engineer.

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Re: Performance of the 6th Panzer Army in the Ardennes

Post by Sheldrake » 01 May 2021 10:28

There is often a miss-match between the situation as passed down the chain of command and the reality as perceived by the troops on the ground. Any acknowledgement of this would of course breaks a fundamental taboo common to military organisations. Down the chain you drink the kool aid. There is an informal set of expressions that reflect common situations. Common British military expressions can be found here. https://www.arrse.co.uk/community/threa ... bs.166064/ Note that these expressions which reflect a make extensive use of the err "military expletive" and might offend those easily offended by rude words....

Even though the Wehrmacht in general and the SS in particular are widely portrayed as having faith in their Fuhrer and final victory, something of this might have been going through their minds - however treacherous those thoughts might have been.

It must have been obvious that the Ardennes offensive was a desperate gamble. By the evening of 17th December those with any knowledge of the overall picture on 6th SS Army must have had a good idea that the operation was heading south. There had been a F_up everywhere except on the LAH Front. Peiper's progress had been a bit of a F_about, losing almost an entire day in a traffic Jam. He may well have concluded that the operation was a goat rodeo and in danger of becoming a sh1tshow.

Good commanders try to protect their troops from the worst consequences of dick dancing by higher command. So when he returned after some hours to find inaction he have thought F -it this is a doomed mission, probably our death-ride. The drivers have been on the go for 72 hours. Let the boys rest for a few hours. That was when he lost the golden opportunity to reach the Meuse...

It was his Nijmegen Bridge moment.

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Re: Performance of the 6th Panzer Army in the Ardennes

Post by Cult Icon » 01 May 2021 13:35

The ultimate impact of the 6th Panzer Army in the first week was that of an excessively costly flank protection/fixing offensive for the 5th Panzer Army's drive to the Meuse. They damaged and absorbed the main attention of a large group of American formations- 1.ID, 30.ID, 2.ID, 99.ID, 82.ID, CCB 3.AD, V Corps among others.

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Re: Performance of the 6th Panzer Army in the Ardennes

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 01 May 2021 14:18

Sheldrake wrote:
30 Apr 2021 16:14
Cult Icon wrote:
29 Apr 2021 18:04
The way his KG was organized proved ultimately to be very incorrect. These problems were foreseeable given the geography of his "one-tank wide" front and Rollbahn D and E. KG Peiper resembled an organization more appropriate for a heavy breakthrough operation in the Eastern Front and was overstuffed with heavy weapons to the point that it weakened the other 1.SS kampfgruppen and lowered the other KG's capabilities, which hampered them in their link up attempts later on.

It was also so supply hungry that the supply column in the rear could not support properly with fuel it past Dec 18, 1944. By the 19, the ammunition was low. The fuel hungry 501 SS Tiger was attached to it and was a wasted asset. It hastened the demise of the KG. Peiper had intended to commit his SS 501 Tigers once they had reached the Meuse.
I will go further. Peiper's command of his battlegroup were flawed. On the evening of the 17th Dec Peiper had achieved a breakthrough. His column had destroyed the artillery column at Bageuz and the damaged tank at Ligneuville and were on the country road to Stavalot. However, after bumping into a detachment of engineers a mile or so short of Stavalot his entire column seems to have stopped for several hours. It seems that Peiper went back to the excellent restaurant in Ligneuville for support with the Divisional commander. Had he pressed on during the night his column could have been on the Meuse by morning of the 18th.
I second this. + Peiper missed out on the oil dump later..He seems to be out of depth here.. The vital need for speed and a rush to the Meuse to shock and surprise the US rear elements, appear to have escaped him. Surprising really

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Re: Performance of the 6th Panzer Army in the Ardennes

Post by Aida1 » 01 May 2021 18:18

Sheldrake wrote:
30 Apr 2021 23:43
Aida1 wrote:
30 Apr 2021 21:28
The issue is not where Peiper was. The issue is that there were perfectly valid reasons for not charging headlong into Stavelot in the evening. Expecting anything else is unrealistic hindsight which would not even historically change much anyway.
Peiper did certainly not go back for a meeting with Mohnke. It was Mohnke who came forward with his tactical HQ to Peiper in Ligneuville(Devils adjudant M Reynolds pp 105-106).
Sorry, but that is exactly what the issue was.

The Ardennes offensive was a gamble to reach the river Meuse in 48 hours. In order to do that the Germans needed to be prepared to take risks. Charging headlong into Stavalot was exactly what he was supposed to be doing. It was the only chance to to reach the Meuse. He did not have the luxury of waiting until daylight. The delay made no difference to his tactics, which was to send three tanks to charge over the bridge.

Cult Icon rightly mentions the friction of war - the SNAFU factor. One thing commanders do is finding out what is holding things up and sorting out the problem - removing the F from FUBAR. 9 FJR halted at Lanzerath because no commander went forwards to personally check the report that the advance had been held up by stubborn defence. IRRC that Peiper drilled down the chain of command to check who had personally checked the truth of the situation. 24 hours later Peiper allows exactly the same situation to occur, largely because he was in the hotel du Moulin at Ligneuville while his battlegroup was halted on the road a few km ahead after a few shots from an American engineer.
Guilty of a lot of hindsight and not correct. Peiper did actualy arrive later in the evening and judged that Stavelot was defended and therefore decided to attack in the morning when he had more of his battlegroup available . This was a valid decision with the knowledge at the time . A real commander does not know what is on the other side. Only readers of military history books know. :lol:
Last edited by Aida1 on 01 May 2021 18:33, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Performance of the 6th Panzer Army in the Ardennes

Post by Aida1 » 01 May 2021 18:32

sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
01 May 2021 14:18
Sheldrake wrote:
30 Apr 2021 16:14
Cult Icon wrote:
29 Apr 2021 18:04
The way his KG was organized proved ultimately to be very incorrect. These problems were foreseeable given the geography of his "one-tank wide" front and Rollbahn D and E. KG Peiper resembled an organization more appropriate for a heavy breakthrough operation in the Eastern Front and was overstuffed with heavy weapons to the point that it weakened the other 1.SS kampfgruppen and lowered the other KG's capabilities, which hampered them in their link up attempts later on.

It was also so supply hungry that the supply column in the rear could not support properly with fuel it past Dec 18, 1944. By the 19, the ammunition was low. The fuel hungry 501 SS Tiger was attached to it and was a wasted asset. It hastened the demise of the KG. Peiper had intended to commit his SS 501 Tigers once they had reached the Meuse.
I will go further. Peiper's command of his battlegroup were flawed. On the evening of the 17th Dec Peiper had achieved a breakthrough. His column had destroyed the artillery column at Bageuz and the damaged tank at Ligneuville and were on the country road to Stavalot. However, after bumping into a detachment of engineers a mile or so short of Stavalot his entire column seems to have stopped for several hours. It seems that Peiper went back to the excellent restaurant in Ligneuville for support with the Divisional commander. Had he pressed on during the night his column could have been on the Meuse by morning of the 18th.
I second this. + Peiper missed out on the oil dump later..He seems to be out of depth here.. The vital need for speed and a rush to the Meuse to shock and surprise the US rear elements, appear to have escaped him. Surprising really
You have seen too many movies and suffer from too much hindsight. :roll: Peiper never knew about that fuel dump and did not even come near it. And he certainly knew about the need for speed.
And he did know about the need for speed.

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Re: Performance of the 6th Panzer Army in the Ardennes

Post by Aida1 » 01 May 2021 18:42

Sheldrake wrote:
01 May 2021 10:28
There is often a miss-match between the situation as passed down the chain of command and the reality as perceived by the troops on the ground. Any acknowledgement of this would of course breaks a fundamental taboo common to military organisations. Down the chain you drink the kool aid. There is an informal set of expressions that reflect common situations. Common British military expressions can be found here. https://www.arrse.co.uk/community/threa ... bs.166064/ Note that these expressions which reflect a make extensive use of the err "military expletive" and might offend those easily offended by rude words....

Even though the Wehrmacht in general and the SS in particular are widely portrayed as having faith in their Fuhrer and final victory, something of this might have been going through their minds - however treacherous those thoughts might have been.

It must have been obvious that the Ardennes offensive was a desperate gamble. By the evening of 17th December those with any knowledge of the overall picture on 6th SS Army must have had a good idea that the operation was heading south. There had been a F_up everywhere except on the LAH Front. Peiper's progress had been a bit of a F_about, losing almost an entire day in a traffic Jam. He may well have concluded that the operation was a goat rodeo and in danger of becoming a sh1tshow.

Good commanders try to protect their troops from the worst consequences of dick dancing by higher command. So when he returned after some hours to find inaction he have thought F -it this is a doomed mission, probably our death-ride. The drivers have been on the go for 72 hours. Let the boys rest for a few hours. That was when he lost the golden opportunity to reach the Meuse...

It was his Nijmegen Bridge moment.
The only thing correct in this is that the men were effectively dead tired which is an additional reason to wait a few hours. All the rest is fiction you have invented. Belied by all the desperate attempts afterwards to get to the Meuse. There was nothing abnormal in waiting for more forces to come up once you judge that you need these. A valid decision based on the information available. And Peiper reaching the Meuse would not really have changed anything so it was hardly a Nijmegen moment.

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Re: Performance of the 6th Panzer Army in the Ardennes

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 01 May 2021 20:04

Sheldrake wrote:
01 May 2021 10:28
There is often a miss-match between the situation as passed down the chain of command and the reality as perceived by the troops on the ground. Any acknowledgement of this would of course breaks a fundamental taboo common to military organisations. Down the chain you drink the kool aid. There is an informal set of expressions that reflect common situations. Common British military expressions can be found here. https://www.arrse.co.uk/community/threa ... bs.166064/ Note that these expressions which reflect a make extensive use of the err "military expletive" and might offend those easily offended by rude words....

Even though the Wehrmacht in general and the SS in particular are widely portrayed as having faith in their Fuhrer and final victory, something of this might have been going through their minds - however treacherous those thoughts might have been.

It must have been obvious that the Ardennes offensive was a desperate gamble. By the evening of 17th December those with any knowledge of the overall picture on 6th SS Army must have had a good idea that the operation was heading south. There had been a F_up everywhere except on the LAH Front. Peiper's progress had been a bit of a F_about, losing almost an entire day in a traffic Jam. He may well have concluded that the operation was a goat rodeo and in danger of becoming a sh1tshow.

Good commanders try to protect their troops from the worst consequences of dick dancing by higher command. So when he returned after some hours to find inaction he have thought F -it this is a doomed mission, probably our death-ride. The drivers have been on the go for 72 hours. Let the boys rest for a few hours. That was when he lost the golden opportunity to reach the Meuse...

It was his Nijmegen Bridge moment.
Interesting.. Sheldrake. The way you approach this, gives a lot of food for thought. You are able to capture the frustration of an experienced commander like Peiper and the "knowing in the guts" .. that the tightly timetabled Ops were like goin' south.

But a "Nijmegen moment" would you say? After crossing the Waal bridge, we find two different armies with two different philosophies and SOPs. There were 2 hrs to last light, if I recall correctly. Were the Irish Guards strong enough on the ground to make the dash?

Here Peiper didn't have a "shooting gallery" of a "Elst highway" in front of him. I always think that he had a go..if only he realized what was riding on those few hours!

Cheers
Sandeep

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Re: Performance of the 6th Panzer Army in the Ardennes

Post by Cult Icon » 01 May 2021 21:34

The controversial Mohnke was the new commander of the LAH for Autumn Mist- he is also responsible for what happened to LAH.

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Re: Performance of the 6th Panzer Army in the Ardennes

Post by Sheldrake » 01 May 2021 22:53

sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
01 May 2021 20:04

Interesting.. Sheldrake. The way you approach this, gives a lot of food for thought. You are able to capture the frustration of an experienced commander like Peiper and the "knowing in the guts" .. that the tightly timetabled Ops were like goin' south.

But a "Nijmegen moment" would you say? After crossing the Waal bridge, we find two different armies with two different philosophies and SOPs. There were 2 hrs to last light, if I recall correctly. Were the Irish Guards strong enough on the ground to make the dash?

Here Peiper didn't have a "shooting gallery" of a "Elst highway" in front of him. I always think that he had a go..if only he realized what was riding on those few hours!

Cheers
Sandeep
I see you picked up the reference. The Guards Armoured Division had been involved in a tough fight to take Nijmegen and the Waal Bridge. Its armour had depleted their ammunition and its infantry had many casualties to deal with. Peiper's KG had been involved in very little fighting and was at full strength and fully bombed up. Arguably the British Guards had a bigger excuse for a tactical pause than Peiper's Household Guards. But neither knew what lay ahead at the time they both paused.

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Re: Performance of the 6th Panzer Army in the Ardennes

Post by Westphalia1812 » 01 May 2021 23:18

Texas Jäger wrote:
01 Dec 2020 08:59
Most of the historiography I’ve read puts down the failure of the northern-most sector of the Ardennes Offensive (where the 6th Panzer Army attacked) to bad organization and preparation for Dietrich’s Army compared to Manteuffel‘s. Steven Zaloga echoed pretty much the same take on their performance in a lecture last year.

So how much of the 6th Panzer Army’s failure can be put down to weakness or incompetence as opposed to facing much stronger opposition than its counterpart army to the south?
IMO while the planning and staff work of 5. PzA can, to a certain extent, be called superior, the performance of the army PzD wasn't that much superior. The 116. PzDiv conducted very little reconnaissance which resulted in a debacle at Verdenne. Interestingly this might be the opposite to what Peiper was doing further north at Stavelot. Instead of conducting reconnaissance 116. PzDiv(elmts) drove straight into Verdenne and got shot up. Panzer-Lehr was hindered by her own commander, Bayerlein. Additionally Lehr got involved in a lot of traffic jams. 2. PzDiv conducted her operations a bit "smoother" but ultimately was almost destroyed at Celles - Foy-Notre-Dame.

5. PzA benefitted a lot from the circumstances of the US defenders. The two divisions (28, 106) were far too overstreched to stop 5. PzA.

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Re: Performance of the 6th Panzer Army in the Ardennes

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 03 May 2021 19:54

Sheldrake wrote:
01 May 2021 22:53
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
01 May 2021 20:04

Interesting.. Sheldrake. The way you approach this, gives a lot of food for thought. You are able to capture the frustration of an experienced commander like Peiper and the "knowing in the guts" .. that the tightly timetabled Ops were like goin' south.

But a "Nijmegen moment" would you say? After crossing the Waal bridge, we find two different armies with two different philosophies and SOPs. There were 2 hrs to last light, if I recall correctly. Were the Irish Guards strong enough on the ground to make the dash?

Here Peiper didn't have a "shooting gallery" of a "Elst highway" in front of him. I always think that he had a go..if only he realized what was riding on those few hours!

Cheers
Sandeep
I see you picked up the reference. The Guards Armoured Division had been involved in a tough fight to take Nijmegen and the Waal Bridge. Its armour had depleted their ammunition and its infantry had many casualties to deal with. Peiper's KG had been involved in very little fighting and was at full strength and fully bombed up. Arguably the British Guards had a bigger excuse for a tactical pause than Peiper's Household Guards. But neither knew what lay ahead at the time they both paused.

Sheldrake .. the "Household Guards" part is intelligent humor, churned thru domain knowledge 👍

I see we are on the same page in our evaluation of the relative situations of the Guards vis a vis KG Peiper.

About knowing what lay ahead .. The Guards had experience of the 2 lane dyke road before Nijmegen and carried physical maps of the terrain till the NiederRhein. And that would kinda make a tank man edgy.

On the other hand, Peiper, the motivated, committed Waffen SS officer, knew what was riding on that operation. His briefing told him that the sector was lightly held by thinned out enemy formations. Hence his lack of dash & urgency are kinda odd.

Cheers
Sandeep
Last edited by sandeepmukherjee196 on 03 May 2021 20:12, edited 1 time in total.

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