Werner Krüger was a German soldier serving with the 9th SS-Panzerdivision Hohenstaufen. In September 1944 he and his tank crew were involved in the fighting around Arnhem and Oosterbeek during Operation Market Garden.
In January 1944 Werner volunteered for the Waffen-SS and was trained in a tank hunter unit stationed at Rastenburg (Ketrzyn). Just 18 years old, Sturmmann (corporal) Krüger was trained as a gunner on a Jagdpanzer IV (tank hunter IV). After his training was completed Werner and the rest of his unit were send to the Belgian city of Mons to cover the German retreat from Normandy. The Allied advance, however, was moving at such a pace that soon Werner’s unit also had to retreat.
After the retreat his unit was moved to Arnhem where it arrived on the 15 September 1944. Coincidentally two days before the start of Operation Market Garden, the biggest Allied airborne operation ever.
On the 23 September, Werner and his crew tried to attack the Hartenstein-Hotel which was the headquarters of the British troops fighting in Arnhem. During this attack their tank was hit twelve times and he and his comrades had to abandon their vehicle. After the battle was over, Werner saw the many wounded British paratroopers at the Tafelberg Hotel. One of them, badly wounded, gave him his diary moments before he died.
Werner later saw action at the Eastern Front and was eventually captured by the American army. He was released, returned to his home in the Soviet occupation zone but fled after the secret police targeted him. After the war, he was active in politics for his community. He participated in a documentary about the last German survivors of the Battle of Arnhem and his story is also involved in the book ‘Weggemoffeld’ by Ingrid Maan.
To ensure the success of Operation Market Garden, the Allied forces had to capture the bridge in Arnhem. But the light-armed airborne forces stood no chance against two SS Panzer Divisions that happened to be in the area. After desperate fighting and many casualties the Arnhem bridge proved to be ‘a bridge too far’.
The Museum shows the course of events during the Battle of Arnhem. This took place in September 1944 in the area between Ede and Arnhem and formed part of the Operation Market Garden. British, American and Polish airborne troops were to take control of the river bridges from the Belgian border to Arnhem.
The Battle of Arnhem, the biggest airborne landing operation of the Second World War, took place in and around Arnhem in September 1944. It formed part of Operation Market Garden. The goal of the Operation was for Polish, British and American airborne forces to capture the important bridges across the Dutch rivers so that ground troops could advance via these bridges. But the Operation failed…
Operation Market Garden managed to liberate a large part of the Netherlands, but failed in its main objective: outmaneuvering the Germans with a surprise crossing of the Rhine. The Nijmegen-Groesbeek area, conquered during Market Garden, remained in Allied hands and served as a springboard for the successful Rhineland Offensive in February 1945.
The Bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem was the last bridge that needed to be captured during Operation Market Garden. If the Allies could capture this bridge the road to Germany would lay open. The task of capturing the Rhine Bridge fell to the British 1st Airborne Division.