After the quick advance of General Patton and the 3rd US Army to the Ardennes for the Battle of the Bulge, the 7th US Army had to spread out over the northern part of the Alsace to replace the 3rd. General Jacob L. Devers was already worried about the possibilities when the Germans would attack. He then got permission to withdraw from the Alsace plain. With this action Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace would be in German hands again. General De Gaulle of the Forces Françaises Libres (Free French Forces) and General De Lattre de Tassigny of the 1ère Armée Française (1st French Army) didn’t agree with that. After pressure from them the plan changed and General Devers could only withdraw to the river Moder in the north of the Alsace.
Hitler decided on Operation Nordwind because of the failure of the Ardennes. Operation Nordwind contained an attack on the north of the Alsace and was commanded by SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler. He decided to attack with small actions instead of a big front. In the end he had lost 11 divisions, including 4 SS-divisions with these bad tactics. After this Himmler was transferred.