To celebrate the liberation of Arnhem which took place exactly 70 years ago today, we will take a look at the town in a fantastic selection of Then and Now pictures. We will look at the arrival of the Allies and the damage the city has sustained in the last 9 months of the war.
After the battle for Arnhem ended on September 25th 1944, the Germans forced the local population to leave the town. Nobody was allowed back in for the duration of the war and the Germans started to systematically loot the city and blowing up buildings and destroying property at random. Fires, sometimes caused by Allied shelling, burned for days because not even fire fighters were allowed back in town.
When the allies launched their final attack on Arnhem on April 13th and 14th 1945 it was a ghost town. Only German soldiers were encountered who put up a terrific fight, causing even more damage to a city already heavily damaged.
We start our Then and Now journey in the center of Arnhem, click on the images for a full size version.
Street fighting at the Utrechtseweg, the 2nd Essex regiment moves in the direction of Oosterbeek. This is the same road where the 1st Airborne division ran into a German blocking line and could not advance further towards the bridge.
German prisoners march past a Churchill AVRE, the picture taken at the Boompjesstraat at the location of the Museum, also known as the Monistary by the 1st Airborne division. [IWM]
On the Rijnkade (bank of the Rhine), in the distance you can see the destroyed road bridge. The trenches were build by the Germans after the battle ended in September 1944, fearing an assault river crossing in the city.
Looking the other way, German trenches in the embankment. Across the street were the Bridgade HQ and the HQ of the 2nd Battalion during in September 1944. [IWM]
Churchill AVRE in Arnhem, 13 April 1945. [IWM]
Next page: Destruction of a city
Destruction of a city
Also located on the Willemplein (where the first pictures of this article were taken), was Cafe Royal which was hit by Allied bombs on the morning of September 17th 1944. Located immediately behind Cafe Royal were German Army barracks, which were the target of the bombing, they were also destroyed.
Villages surrounding Arnhem
You can still see the bullet holes:
A very special thanks Koos Winkelman who took all the Now shots.
All the pictures from 1945:
Imperial War Museum collection