Imagine a battlefield that has been cleared of explosives and then opened to the public. This is how the Liberty Park was founded in 1945, a battlefield museum.
In the fall of 1944, after the failed Operation Market Garden the Allied command wanted to widen the corridor that had been liberated in the fighting. The objective was to push the Germans back from the west side of the corridor to the east bank of Meuse River, thus creating an easier to defend frontier for the coming winter. The Germans, however, had found renewed strength after defeating the Allies in September and fought for every mile. One of the towns that was bitterly fought over was Overloon. It took the Allies three weeks to take it and it was completely destroyed in the fighting. The local population wanted a permanent memorial of the battle but not in the way it’s usually done with a memorial, plaque or a single tank on the main square. They decided to preserve a section of the battlefield and open it up as a museum.
As a child I visited the museum and walked around the park, seeing a tank in a ditch where it stopped after being hit by a shell in 1944. This museum really was one of a kind.
Unfortunately this concept had to be abandoned in the early 1990s, all vehicles that were left outside for 45 years were in desperate need of repair and restoration. This proved almost the undoing of the museum, who could afford to have an entire collection restored? But help came from the most unlikely of persons, Saddam Husain. Because of his invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent build up of American forces in the Gulf the warehouses and maintenance bases of the American forces in Germany were empty and the personnel had nothing to do. Knowing of the museums plight they offered to restore and repair the collection, free of charge.
After returning, most vehicles were moved inside but it still is amazing to see damaged / destroyed vehicles in a museum that were hit no more then a few hundred meters from its current location. When you then read the information on the tank and find out that the crew all died, again within a few hundred meters from where you are now, you become very quiet indeed. When you walk around the grounds belonging to the museum you can still see traces of the battle. A foxhole here and the occasional slit trench there though it’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish them in the sloping woodlands.
The Liberty Park museum is a combination of the National War & Liberty museum and the Marshall museum. The former focussing on the battle of Overloon and the rest of the events and atrocities of WWII, the latter completely focused on vehicles. For us vehicle fanatics, the Marshall museum is like a wet dream come true. All vehicles are not just static displays stripped from the inside and left to stand for years on end. They can all be started and driven out. The massive building in which they stand smells of grease and oil and under every vehicle are oil stained absorption mats. You have to see and smell it to believe it. Add to this some stunning displays and this is a museum you have to see at least once.
Really the only critique I can think of is that although all vehicles can be driven, they never are. There are no tank or vehicle driving events where the vehicles can be seen moving and burning fuel which would make it at least as good as the Tank Museum in Dorset.
5825 AM Overloon
Phone:: +31 478 – 641250
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