World War II


On May 10, 1940, German troops invaded the Netherlands. The Dutch Engineering Corps blew up all the bridges across the river Waal and the Maas-Waal canal around Nijmegen. The first four years passed relatively quietly. However, on February 22, 1944, about half past one in the afternoon, Nijmegen was startled by a bombardment, executed by American bombers. Never in her 2000-year-old history had the town been so greatly damaged as at that time. Practically the whole of the inner city changed into a ruin within a few moments. About 800 people died in this bombardment. How this disaster could have happened is still not completely clear. Possibly, the Americans on their way back from the German Ruhr-area mistook Nijmegen for a German town.

Click here for a complete list of victims of the bombardment of February 22, 1944

On September 17, 1944, Operation Market Garden commences. American and British soldiers try to liberate Nijmegen and other towns in the south of the country. However, Nijmegen is vigorously defended by the occupying force. When these occupiers feel too much cornered, they leave the town, and, on the run, burn down a part of the inner city which was still standing. This includes the town hall. 
On September 20, the allied forces manage to conquer the bridges across the Waal. However, Nijmegen is subjected to German gunfire for six months longer. On March 17, 1945, the last shell explodes. After the liberation, the sad accounts can be prepared: 2,200 dead, 10,000 injured, 5,000 houses and 500 shops totally destroyed, 12,000 people homeless.


Some of the photographs originate from the collection of the Lukassen Family, Wim Ebben and Wilbert Aarts, our heartfelt thanks for this! Do you possess any additional material for this page, i.e. photographs, picture postcards or items? We would gladly make use of them and add them to our collection. In that way, your special archives will be made public for everyone as well.

For the quotation of our sources we redirect you to the "bronvermelding" page. The contents of this site originate from personal archives, the municipal archives Nijmegen and the following books:

Beelden uit verwoest Nijmegen

De Ramp, uitgave drukkerij Nijmegen

St. Canisiusziekenhuis in oorlogstijd, B.F.J. Siebenheller

Fotoboek "drie wijken van Nijmegen Oost", Raeven - Janssen

De verwoesting van een oude Keizerstad, Lammerts van Bueren

Ach lieve tijd, Waanders - Kloosterman

to the WW2 collection


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