Hunger, Fighting and Surrender
In May 1940 the Netherlands was occupied by German forces. It would take five years before they could be ousted. The final drive to liberate the whole country was launched in February 1945 after the so-called ‘Hunger Winter’ had led to 20.000 fatalities in the still occupied territory.
In May 1940 the German Army crossed the border into the Netherlands. The Dutch Army had to surrender after five days of fighting. The German occupation of the Netherlands had begun. It would take five years before the country would be freed by Allied forces.
The liberation of the Netherlands was remarkable in the sense that most of the Southern part of the country was liberated in September 1944 during Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Scheldt while the Northern part remained in German hands until the spring of 1945.
After the failure of Operation Market Garden the Allied forces decided to give the highest priority to a thrust eastwards towards the Rhine and the German heartland. The Northern part of the Netherlands would be liberated later on. This resulted in the strange situation that the final Allied drive to clear the Netherlands from German forces was launched from Germany. The fighting at this point of the war was sporadic and depended largely on the willingness of individual German commanders to continue offering resistance.
Meanwhile a food and fuel shortage, in combination with one of the harshest winters of the war years, led to the death of some 20.000 civilians in the Western part of the Netherlands. This winter would come to be known as the ‘Hunger Winter’.
In the first week of May 1945 the Germans were finally prepared to cooperate in Allied food transports but they were not yet willing to surrender. But when the news of Adolf Hitler’s suicide came out, the end of the war was near.
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.
During the harsh winter of 1944-1945 a large part of the German-occupied Netherlands suffered from severe shortages of food and fuel. This would result in the death of some 20.000 civilians. The famine, known as the ‘Hunger Winter’, would last until the surrender of German forces in May 1945.
The last phase in the battle of the Scheldt was the capture of the island of Walcheren. Walcheren had been incorporated into the German Atlantic Wall and had been heavily fortified during the war. The Allied commanders therefore viewed the capture of Walcheren as the biggest obstacle in the clearing of the Scheldt estuary.
The Liberation Museum Zeeland takes us back to a special part of Zeelands history. During the Second World War Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen of various nationalities united in the fight against the German occupation forces. This struggle resulted in a lot of dead and wounded on both sides. The local population in Zeeland also suffered heavy casualties.
A group of granite and brick stone memorials, commemorating the French soldiers who were killed in May 1940 during the battle of Zeeland and the Scottish and Canadian soldiers who were killed during Operation Mallard in November 1944.
The National Liberation Museum 1944-1945 is located on the site where on 17 September 1944 paratroopers from the 82nd U.S. Airborne Division landed as part of Operation Market Garden. The museum holds a large collection of material concerning Operation Market Garden, the battle for the Reichswald and the Second World War in its broadest sense.
On 5 May 1945 German commander general Blaskowitz met with Canadian general Foulkes in Hotel de Wereld in Wageningen. There they negotiated the surrender document for all German forces in the Netherlands, which they signed the next day. The occupation of the Netherlands had come to an end.
The War Cemetery in Venray, in the province of Limburg, contains 692 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 30 of them unidentified, and one Polish burial. The town of Venray was liberated by Allied troops in the middle of October 1944.
Operation Market Garden was one of the largest Allied operations of the Second World War. It aimed to secure the bridges over the rivers Maas (Meuse), Waal and Rhine in the Netherlands in order to outflank the heavy German defences of the Siegfried Line and to insure a swift advance towards Berlin.
Hunger, Fighting and Surrender In May 1940 the Netherlands was occupied by German forces. It would take five years before they could be ousted. The final drive to liberate the whole country was launched in February 1945 after the so-called
The Infocentre WW2 is a historic, touristic, and educational information point. It aims to provide visitors of Nijmegen and its surrounding the best introduction to the stories, heritage, events, and museums linked to the Second World War in the area.
Every two years the Havendagen are a weekend of local celebration. In 2020 it will be all about the 75 years of liberation.