It was the end of our holidays in the Ardennes and we decided to take the long way home. It was 200 km more to drive, but the alternatives weren’t that pleasant either. The shortest way home was via Liège, but on that day the Tour de France had started there. Liège and the surroundings were closed to all traffic on this day, as well. Also the two highways north and south were narrowed to only one lane because of road construction. They were also working on the orbital road around Antwerp. Why does it all have to happen at the one time?
So, we decided to take the highway through Luxembourg and via Germany drive to the Netherlands. In Germany, our route took us close to Remagen and we decided to stop there and take a look at the bridge at Remagen.
On both sides of the river Rhine, the towers of the bridge are still standing. In the towers on the Remagen side is a small museum. In the museum, there was only a few pictures and a small view of the other side.
During WWII, the Ludendorf railway bridge at Remagen had survived all the bombardments of the Allies and on the 6th of March 1945, the Germans prepared to blow up the bridge. However, their attempt failed and on the 7th of March, the US 9th Armored Division succeeded to conquer the bridge entirely. It was the only useful bridge across the Rhine and it was called ‘The miracle of Remagen’.
The events made Hitler furious and he had five of his officers executed in his 'kangaroo' court. From that moment, the Germans then tried to bomb the bridge from the air.
On the 10th of March, American soldiers began to build two pontoon bridges while under heavy, German artillery fire. Seven days later, the Remagen bridge collapsed because of the constant heavy use and being overloaded with troops crossing to the other side of the Rhine. Twenty-eight soldiers were killed in the accident. Thankfully, the pontoon bridges were ready at this time and the troops began to use them.
On March 23rd, the Allies left the bridgehead at Remagen and begin their march to the east.