Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Celebrating Canada on my birthday

Telus gave me free local calling on my birthday. I wonder if that means local within Amsterdam.

We went over to Nijmegen on Tuesday. This was the scene of much fighting in WW2 which rather tragically destroyed (among a lot of other things) most of the buildings in the city. And to see the few that remain and were restored makes that all the more sad.
The 1612 Waag (weigh) Haus
1545 passageway
A blend of new and old
City Hall
Now a school, associated with the church

Detail of the windows and statues
Nijmegen has quite the history, being founded by the Romans, and while there are no Roman ruins, they left behind a lot of interesting trash which is now in the Museum Het Velkhof. Charlemagne was here, and this little chapel was built in 1030 around his time.
All that left of a 12th century church is the side of it.
These two sit behind the Het Velkhof on the Velkof itself. This hill (wow, a section of Holland that is not flat...) offers views of the bridges over the river Waas (a major Rhine tributary) that huge battles in WW2 were all about.
Not the original bridge, but close enough. See link above
Nijmegen was indeed a focal point (one of several) of Operation Market Garden, a major Allied push to cross the Rhine, and there's an excellent museum just south of town at Groesbeek called the Nationaal Bevrijdingsmuseum (National Liberation Museum) that we wanted to visit.
The museum
The entry plaza

Inside, on the wall on the movie room
My history is awful; I thought the Canadians were involved in Market Garden; it was the US, British and Polish. The Canadians arrived long after Market Garden was over, and then along with the British, participated in the offensive (Veritable) that pushed past Nigmegen to the west and into Germany. The Canadians also stayed around for at least a year after the war was over to help the Dutch rebuild the area.

Accordingly, for this and many other reasons, the Dutch have a soft spot for Canadians, and a 20 min walk north of Groesbeek and the museum takes you to the Canadian war cemetery.
Flanked by silver maples, the entrance
The Dutch seem to like us
Some 2,600 men, over 2,500 of whom are Canadian, are buried here.
Their names liveth for evermore
There are far too many

Far, far, too many
There are a few graves of unnamed men...
Unknown soldier
Unknown airman
...and Canadian flags...
A fine place to find a flag

And another
...and beautifully tended flowers.
Proof that life rises from the ashes of men who sacrificed
The cemetery sits on a rise (yet another rare Dutch hill) overlooking the battlefield, with clear views to Germany, a mere 5 miles away.
Between here and the hills in the distance lies the German border
From here, it is difficult to imagine what it looked like over 55 years ago, but easy to see why they did it and what, in the end, it accomplished.

1 comment:

Edwin said...

I live in this area (eventhough is was born near Groningen) and I have my offices in the Nijmegen area. The actual focal point of operation marketgarden was the bridge over the river Rijn (or rhine as you would call it) in Arnhem, 15 km's south of the Waalbrug which is seem on your picture of Nijmegen. Do check out the story of Jphn Frost (found all over the net) and, if you ever get the chance, visit the museum dedicated to the battle of Arnhem in Oosterbeek.

P.S. We evened up the series yesterday. Tonight we'll square up in Leiden again.