Flooding, shelling and evacuations

After the failure of Operation Market Garden in September 1944, the area between the Waal and the Rhine forms the new frontline. The battles are fierce with heavy shelling from both sides. The civilian population is trapped in the middle of this violence, and soon the decision is made to evacuate the area. A large number of evacuees face an uncertain future.

After the battle of Arnhem, the Betuwe region is badly hit by shelling from the Allies who have been stationed on the south side of the Meuse since the advance in September 1944 came to a halt. For nine months, the area formed the line between liberated and occupied Netherlands. Nowhere else in Europe has one region been at the frontline for such a long period. There is a growing concern about the fate of the civilians in the combat zone. Citizens face flooding, continuous shelling and evacuations (Source: wo2gld.nl)

The darkest days in the history of Putten—1 and 2 October 1944—are also during the period at the frontline. Just after midnight on 1 October, the resistance commits a largely unsuccessful attack on a car with German officers and the occupying forces take revenge. Seven people are shot by the Germans in the following days, and no less than 659 men aged between eighteen and fifty are taken to camp Amersfoort. More than 500 people do not survive the Putten roundup.

Read more about the roundup in Putten or about the Betuwe being at the frontline on Liberationroute.com.

View the story about the Frontline period

Route Water as a Weapon – Driel

The marigold symbolises the suffering of civilians in wartime, and the path follows the German line of defence. Elst (L31) and its surroundings were under heavy fire at the beginning of October 1944. Defensive German troops and advancing Allies fought hard. The muddy open terrain and high water level made it difficult to advance and take cover. The tower of the Great Church of Elst was set on fire. The strategic Linge bridges are fiercely fought over. At the end of 1944, the Germans flood a large part of the region.

More about this route

Experience ‘Gelderland Remembers’ at the following events

1 Aug - 31 Dec

‘De Vergeten Executie’ – Audiotour

Audio tour through Sonsbeek park about 'The Forgotten Execution' during WWII.

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