The Betuwe has been front area for over 7 months. With all the consequences that entails. She was continuously ravaged by grenade fire from both sides. Countless air strikes have left deep wounds in the Villages of Betuw. Halenren, Gendt, Zetten and Elst had had to endure a lot. Two floods had severely damaged the area up to Kesteren. The looting of the abandoned area had done great damage.
The damage to houses and furniture was enormous. Ninety percent of the household goods had been destroyed, burned, stolen or ended up in the black market. This happened in both German territory and in the liberated area.
The joy after the liberation was therefore short-lived. Five years should have looked forward to the liberation, the liberation of the heavy pressure. The desire for freedom gave people courage, courage to live , courage because this moment had to come. But the reality was harsh, sometimes too harsh. The Betuwnaar had to fight it again. When the 12,000 families returned, about 58,000 people, all items and household goods had to be purchased again. But also transported. To this end, local committees had to be set up.
Everywhere the fields are flattened and destroyed by the water. The roads destroyed and full of grenade and bomb funnels, the verges full of mines. Fields that could not be accessed by the abandoned grenades and mines. Orchards destroyed, fruit greenhouses destroyed or irreparably damaged. Burned-down houses, shattered churches, broken towers and mills, debris from planes and sliders, ruins of hamlets, burnt-out tanks and destroyed pieces of artillery and the stench of tainted fish through the parched land, here and there carcasses of horses, cows and pigs. Reconstruction officials could begin. The final battle could be made, the recovery of the Betuwe.[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1″ display=”basic_thumbnail”]
Sources: text Oorlogsgedenkboek van de Betuwe, fotos archief B.O.I.C.
A video with an impression of the damage: Click here.
The Betuwe (statistic of destruction)
A: Totally destroyed or irreparably damaged
B: badly damaged but repairable
C: slightly damaged