Berlin

In for a weekend in Berlin to see the modern highlights of a reborn city with scars of it’s dark past. As a start, we immediately went to a point where the history of Berlin is clearly visible which is the Niederkirchnerstraße. The monument surrounding the horrors of the Nazi regime and part of the Wall dividing East and West that has ruled the city for a long time.

Niederkirchnerstraße - berlin wall
Berlin wall and nazi crimes at Geschichtsmeile
Niederkirchnerstraße East and West
Niederkirchnerstraße East and West

Neuwe Wache – Designed and built in 1816 where it was originally supposed to be a guard house for the troops of the Crown Prince of Prussia for the nearby Kronprinzpalais. It thus served as a replacement for the old artillery guard house. Still used as an important place to remind us of the German fallen in various wars and war zones. It was seriously damaged in the battle for Berlin.

Neue Wache und Wehrmacht
Neue Wache und Wehrmacht
Neue Wache present
Neue Wache present

Berliner Dom – In 1935 Hermann Göring – the second-in-command of Nazi Germany – married Emmy Sonnenschein at the cathedral. Hitler was a witness (best man) at the ceremony. The cathedral was badly damaged during the second world war especially with air raids on Berlin on May 24, 1944.

Berlin Dom 1945
Berlin Dom 1945
Berlin Dom present
Berlin Dom present

Reichstag – Herman Goringstrasse (now Friedrich Eberstrasse) towards the Reichstag. Happy faced Russian soldiers walk past the Tiergarten park with AA guns in joy that the battle for Berlin is over.

Reichstag-1945
Reichstag-1945
Reichstag present
Reichstag present

Flakturm III G-Tower Humboldthain – One of the most visible remains of the Second World War in Berlin. Partly buried under the rubble of the city after the war, it can still be visited. Keep in mind that you have a sweater or jacket with you because otherwise it will be too cold and you cannot join the tour (which was unfortunately the case with us). This tower is one of three built in Berlin to protect Berlin from constant attacks by the air force. The others have been cleaned up completely. The roof is 3.5 meters thick!

Flakturm Humboldthain mit Luftwaffenhelfer, 1943
Flakturm Humboldthain mit Luftwaffenhelfer, 1943
Flak Tower III Humboldthain
Flak Tower III Humboldthain

The Flakturm (Flak Tower) is a concrete bunker that is placed in a city. The bunker was provided with a space where people (the largest tower itself had room for 20,000 people) could shelter during bombings and there was room for storage of goods. In addition, the bunker was equipped with Flak anti-aircraft guns (Flak is the abbreviation for Flugabwehrkanone, also known as Fliegerabwehrkanone).

These large towers were built in the cities of Berlin, Hamburg and Vienna during the Second World War.

70th Anniversary droppings Ginkelse Heide, Ede

Today we are set to go early in the morning to the unique commemoration of airborne landings on Ginkelse Heide near Ede and Arnhem. Decided to go , for the expected number of spectators, to go on bike the last piece of the trip. On arrival it was already pretty busy. Walked to the Airborne Memorial.

In September 1944 it was the largest airborne operation during the 2nd World War. Eventually there where even more droppings than during the D-Day landings. Just like 70 years the fog also played a role in the today droppings. No less than 60,000 visitors had come down to this unique event.

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Antwerpen

V2 rocket

Antwerp was to prove a vital port to the Allies as they pushed towards Germany. The German Oberkommando realized the importance of Antwerp and the Walcheren area had the allies. In September 1944 it was decided to bombard Antwerp with V2 rockets.  The number of V2 rockets outnumbered the attacks on London with many. From october 1944 till march 1945 5960 rockets (v1 and v2) were launched in Antwerpen province. ln the early morning of 18 May the first ‘feldgrau’ soldiers from the North came into the city without a fight and the swastika flag was hoisted that same day on the cathedral. The second German occupation within a quarter century was a fact.

It made a lasting impression on all Antwerp. They would soon be confronted with a new order which took 4,5 years to be freed from. But only then the worsted  had yet to happen. Germans decided to bombard the Harbours of Antwerp with V1 and V2 rockets because of the strategic importance to the Allies. Nearly 5600 rockets where launched in the province of Antwerp.   

KBC Tower
Leader of the Flemish National Union (Dutch: Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond, VNV) Hernik Elias inspects the troops at the Meir.

 On November 27, a terrible incident occurred at a major road junction near the Central Station. Teniers Plaats (Square) was the busiest intersection in town (as it still is today). Military policemen were always regulating the heavy traffic for an Allied convoy passing through the square.   

terniersplein V2
Teniersplaats just after the V-2 struck the convoy.

 A V-2 came down at ten minutes past noon and exploded in the middle of all this activity. A British convoy was moving through the intersection and was caught in the blast. This particular rocket was believed to have exploded just above ground possibly having struck the overhead tram lines just where the traffic policemen stood. A city water main burst, water bubbling up from the ground. Soon, the whole square was filled with water.

terniersplein V2 rocket
The tram at the Teniersplaats took also a direct hit. Click to enlargeThe tram at the Teniersplaats took also a direct hit. Click to enlarge
terniersplein_02 V2 Rocket
Many people wachting the convoy where killed immediately. Click to enlarge
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Approaching_Omaha-beach-wwii

Carentan

carentan_center_sign-wwiiFour major highways and a railroad converged in the city of Carentan to make it one of the strategic points to link the 2 beachheads Omaha and Utah. 5 days of fear fighting made Carentan a difficult objective to meet. On June 13th the Germans counter attacked Carentan in which the 506th held there positions just long enough to let the American tanks stop the attack. This part is seen in the episode of ‘Band of Brothers’

Carentan was defended by the 6th Parachute Regiment, two Ost battalions and remnants of other German forces. The 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division, ordered to reinforce Carentan, was delayed by transport shortages and attacks by Alliedaircraft. The attacking 101st Airborne Division, landed by parachute on 6 June as part of the American airborne landings in Normandy, was ordered to seize Carentan..

gis-pointing-to-a sign-carentan

GI´s pointing to a sign post at the center of Carentan.

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Bretteville-l’Orgueilleuse

Bretteville-l’Orgueilleuse is a small town just 10 km west of Caen. The town was captured by 7th Canadian Brigade on 7th June. German Mark V Panthers and Mark IV tanks of the 12th Panzer Division re-took the town again.

‘C’ squadron of the 6th Canandian Armoured Regiment had lost contact with their infantry on D-Day and advanaced through Bretteville with no opposition. Later they withdrew again from Bretteville-l’Orgueilleuse. The town was eventually captures by 7th Canadian Brigade on 7th June. German Mark V Panthers and Mark IV tanks re-took the position again.

corssing-ata-bretteville-wwii

Crossing at Bretteville. Click to enlarge.

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