Still from the movie D-Day, Normandy 1944
Still from the movie D-Day, Normandy 1944

D-Day and The Hague

From D-Day onwards, Allied troops landed on the French coast, breaching the Atlantic Wall. This led to a major reduction of troops manning the Dutch section of the Atlantic Wall. For example, the 16th Luftwaffe Field Division was withdrawn from The Hague and sent to fight in Normandy. For almost a year, the remaining troops continued to defend a military strongpoint that now had little reason to exist.

It was clearly only a matter of time before the Allied troops reached the Netherlands. Autumn 1944 saw the liberation of the area south of the Great Rivers. The north remained under occupation and the urban areas experienced increasingly acute food shortages. In The Hague alone, between January and May 1945 starvation, illness and cold took the lives of around 2,100 people. Failed V2 rocket launches added to the city’s casualties.

Deliverance came on 29 April 1945, when Allied aircraft dropped food over the city. On the evening of 4 May, Radio Oranje announced the capitulation of the German forces in North-West Europe. Flags immediately went out all over the city. On Monday 7 May, the first Allied ground forces arrived. The liberation was celebrated in The Hague as enthusiastically as elsewhere, but for many people the war was not yet over. They still went hungry and there was widespread anxiety about the fate of family and friends. The anti-tank ditches and barriers still prevented a resumption of normal life and there was a huge housing shortage.

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