W. Thomas Smith Jr. on Christmas & War on National Review Online:
"On December 22nd, German officers, under a flag of truce, delivered a rather long-winded message from Lt. Gen. Heinrich von Luttwitz to General McAuliffe at Bastogne. The message, demanding the Americans surrender, appealed to the 'well-known American humanity' to save the citizens of Bastogne from further suffering. McAuliffe was given two hours to reply.
Having no intention of surrendering, McAuliffe was initially at a loss for words. One of his aides remarked that the general's first comment upon receiving the surrender demand might be wholly appropriate. McAuliffe agreed and penned his now-famous response to the Germans. It simply read, 'NUTS.'
The message was then delivered by American Col. Joseph Harper to a group of German officers waiting in nearby woods. Harper handed the note to one of the Germans who read it and then looked at Harper in confusion.
'What does that mean?' the German asked. 'Is this affirmative or negative?'
Harper responded, 'It means you can all go to hell.'"