Yes, there had been many overwhelming surprises and opportunities along the way on our Liberation tour, and today would be no different. While I had been with our boys at the Peace Palace, Glenn and our new driver, Cees (pronounced 'Case') had been organizing a day that would take the strain off of what was to be a long drive to Groningen & Leeuwarden.
Instead of attempting the long drive, we would do something that no other tour operator could have been able to organize in the short time it had been open - today, we would visit the brand new National Military Museum of the Netherlands.
But first - a stop in Wageningen for some good cheese, some light shopping, and a stop at the Hotel de Wereld. It was on May 6 1945, 70 years ago, that the German general Blaskowitz finally surrendered to the Canadian general Charles Foulkes, which ended the Second World War in the Netherlands. The Generals negotiated the terms of surrender in the Hotel de Wereld.
^ The group outside of the Hotel de Wereld, complete with our 70th Liberation flag.
^ A pretty good visual of just HOW many cameras took that image - Somebody should be paying me commission here - I've got a pretty good photography hustle!
^ Ted Duncan, who plays a big part in our Battlefield community - poses with Ray Lewis with his 70th Liberation flag in front of the Hotel de Wereld.
To the Left: Hotel de Wereld 70 years ago - damaged by the effects of German occupation and the Allied efforts to liberate them. Seeing the town of Wageningen in all of its beauty today - it is hard to look back at this picture and see how it was a mere 70 years ago. So much has changed. So much history had been made.
Fun Fact: There is of course a famous photograph taken of The Canadian General Foulkes with the German commander General Blaskowitz in the Wageningen Hotel de Werled. In our collective memory a photographer snaps a photo where the signing took place to determine the "unconditional surrender of all German forces in the Netherlands." At the same time he immortalized the status of the present commander of the Interior Forces, Prince Bernard, as co liberator of our country.
This event marked the "liberation of the Netherlands" and contributed to a considerable extent at which we still May 5 to celebrate our freedom.
But the document had not been signed at this time. It was in fact 24 hours later that Blaskowitz finally signed it, in silence and in the absence of Prince Bernhard and a photographer, in the auditorium of the Agricultural finally the surrender of all German forces in the occupied Netherlands. >>>
^^^ The "McLaren Clan" poses for us with George Skerkowski, (from left to right, Keean, Earl, & Heather McLaren) in front of the Liberation Monument in Wageningen. The monument signifies the relief Wageningen finally recieved from starvation when the Canadians first started to provide food drops to the area. In the first week of May part of the town of Wageningen transformed into a huge storage area for food relief. From there, on May 5th, 750 Canadian lorries started to distribute food which returned consistently every 30 minutes.
Below, you can see my reaction after learning where that gorgeous aroma of cheese and fresh meats had been coming from. V V V
Exploring the National Military Museum - A pretty incredible excursion!
Situated on the former air base at Soesterberg, the National Military Museum opened on the 11th of December, 2014. The museum had been commissioned as an effort to display the The Netherlands Army Museum and the Netherlands Air Force Museum merging their largest collection pieces into a new museum at the airbase.
^^^ Walking to the front entrance of the massive museum - we were already blown away by just how huge the entire complex was.
^^^ The 45-hectare airbase was the birthplace of aviation in the Netherlands. It bears traces of WWII history and NATO use, and also has important natural qualities. The establishment of the new museum at the site is sized to let the landscape play an important role. The design team made a plan that excites, and invites the visitor to experience stories of the Dutch armed forces. The landscape forms the very real backdrop for the exhibition inside the museum, with its fully glazed facade. The museum and its surroundings tell multiple stories: the history of the place, the geographic context of lines of defense and training areas in the surroundings, and the intense relationship of the military and its tactics with the landscape. The area has become an exciting landscape where open and secluded and sturdy and sensitive qualities form a unity (Source: Topos Magazine, 2015) The use of gabions to create terrace edges, opena up WWII bomb craters and the restoration of representative buildings to make the past visible again. Vistas provide a clear orientation and a varied experience.
^^^ After paying the 9.75 euros - don't worry! The museum welcomed our veterans free of charge - we stopped in awe at the top of the three terraced museum. George takes a picture - in his colorful legion jacket which I loved almost as much as our view.
^^^ With only three hours to explore the entire museum, I quickly leave the group and run around to get as much as I can out of my camera. Like a child in a candy store, I sprint from one exhibition to the next, getting as much out of the experience as possible. There was just so so much to explore, I couldnt get enough of it!
...Out of the 549 photos and videos I took from just this excursion alone (whoops, aplogies to my ever escaping camera storage) I had a hard time narrowing it down to give our Battlefield Blog an idea of what it was we experienced. I think the following is a good introduction, but if you are an enthusiast of the history, aviation, or the battlefields, I HIGHLY suggest coming here and seeing it for yourself. My photos just don't do it justice!
^^^ Every exhibit room was jaw dropping - with brilliantly clear & colorful projections of real footage playing on almost every wall. The museum displayed real equipment in real situations, which had been used war time from the earliest periods of history to recent day. Even the dummies used in the exhibits seemed life like - manufactured from the same authenticity as seen in Madame Tussauds wax museums.
^^^ The lighting used was not only effective, it was empowering, making the vehicles and their handy work look all the more extraordinary. It emphasized how much power and work went in to the production and execution of each and every military vehicle.
^^^ Excellent, just what I was looking for...Let's get started shall we?
The posters you see in this photo above aren't actually posters - but instead moving images - real footage of events taken throughout the military history in the Netherlands. Impactful doesn't even begin to describe the scene...but to look up and see the ejecting seat found in one of the earliest military jets makes you say "WOW" out loud.