We at Meet Maastricht hope you all enjoy Remembrance Day here in the Netherlands (04/05). To commemorate the occasion, we’ve put together something a little special for you! The following two episodes (seven and eight) are all about the liberation of Maastricht at the end of World War Two and feature special guest Joes Minis. Join Katrina and Joes as they chat about the liberation and what it was like to live in Maastricht 75 years ago.
This is only part one – make sure to check out part two here!
The liberation of Maastricht by the allied troops happened over two days in September 1944, after the Germans had fled. The first image (top left) shows German soldiers camouflaged as ‘moving forests’, retreating from Maastricht on the 5/9/1944 ( (c) RHCL). While Maastricht suffered little damage compared to other cities, upon leaving the city, German troops blew up the bridges on the Maas as seen in the second image (top right, 13/9/1944, (c) RHCL).
Allied troops were welcomed and remained in Maastricht for several months while using the city as a base in Western Europe. In the third image (bottom left) you can see Old Hickory Division passing over a newly reinforced bridge (c. 15/9/1944, (c) RHCL). In the fourth photograph (bottom right) American soldiers cross the level crossing with Dutch railway workers watching on (14/9/1944, (c) RHCL).
There was only one death as a direct cause of liberation, being an American soldier who was killed by a boobie-trapped piano at the popular club ‘Victoria’, shown above left (14/9/1944, (c) RHCL). Despite this tragedy, the allied troops had many clubs and recreational spaces in the city and can be seen enjoying some rest and relaxation, incuding dancing seen above (right, c. 30/11/1944, (c) RHCL).
Although liberation brought joy to some, many Nazi sympathisers or collaborators (as well as innocents) were arrested and some were jailed and tortured. The two images above show ‘political delinquents’ being arrested by local citizens (14/9/1944, (c) RHCL).
As discussed in the podcast, Maastricht experienced the end of the war in a different way to many northern Dutch towns and cities as it did not experience the hongerwinter (winter of hunger). Above left is an illustration from the Utrecht Archives of a mother with no food to give her children (c. 25/4/1945 – 5/5/1945, August van der Linde, (c) Utrecht Archives).
For many years and into the 1950s, a ration ticketing system was used for food and other household items as seen above (right, c. 1940 – 1945, (c) Albert Heijn Heritage).
It is also important to remember that war didn’t end for everyone after liberation as young men from Maastricht were sent to fight in Indonesia, including Joes’ Grandfather. In the photo above you can see men from the 13th Infantry Regiment returning from Indonesia on the 3/4/1948 ((c) RHCL).
This episode is one part of a special two part series for Remembrance Day and Liberation Day so make sure to check out the second episode here.
If you would like to learn more about the liberation of Maastricht and the 75th anniversary, visit the 75th Anniversary of Liberation Album for Limburg.
As always, if you have something you have always wanted to know about Maastricht or wanted to ask a local, please contact us through social media or our website and we will do our best to answer your questions in future episodes!