News Articles

Border area museums to preserve World War II recollections

Dutch-German project

Tags: World War II

ARNHEM - Seven museums in the Dutch-German border region between Arnhem and Wesel want to collect eyewitness accounts from the war years, especially from those after September 1944. The cross-border project has been named ‘60 Years Freedom.’

The goal is to record the remaining first-hand recollections and memories of people who have lived through the war, the Nazi occupation, Operation Market Garden and the Liberation itself. The urgency to preserve this cultural and historical oral heritage is becoming critical, 60 years after the war with a declining number of people still alive who as (young) adults witnessed the hostilities and experienced the challenges of every day life.

The project is funded by Dutch and German authorities and by the European Union. Participants are the Municipal Archives in both Arnhem and Nijmegen, the Municipal May 4 and 5 Committee in Nijmegen, the Airborne Museum and Museum Hartenstein, both in Oosterbeek and the National Liberation Museum 1944-1945 in Groesbeek. The organizing institutions in Germany are the Historical Society in Bedburg-Hau, the Prussia Museum Wesel, the Municipal Archives in Kleve and the Regional Archives in Wesel.

Market Garden and Veritable

The attempt to liberate the Netherlands failed when the Allied offensive dubbed Operation Market Garden in September 1944 bogged down. In the months following, a very costly and protracted tank battle took place around Overloon, in the Meuse Salient. The Allies prevailed and pushed the German troops back across the Meuse in late December 1944. The episode has been detailed in the book The Battle of Overloon. Elsewhere in the southern region of the Netherlands major battles were fought as well. Nijmegen sustained many casualties and major damage when the city was bombed by the Allies, a controversial military action still causing debate among historians.

Much of the northern part of the Netherlands remained occupied until mid April, the densily populated western part officially till May 5, 1945. One military thrust into the heartland of Germany was kicked off in February 1945, as ‘Operation Veritable’. The Germans dubbed it Der Krieg am Nederrhein.

h operations and the hard-fought battles have left lasting scars and impressions in the entire area in and around the Dutch towns of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, Groesbeek and Nijmegen and German cities Kleve and Wesel.

Some eyewitness accounts from Allied participants in Operation Market Garden were assembled in ‘Over & Over’, a book available from Vanderheide Publishing at or by phoning 1-881-0705.