Pays-Bas / Lieu d'intêret

And yet the Martinitoren is still standing


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The Martinitoren in Groningen was under scaffolding during the war, because of the restoration of the tower. Work started in 1936. At a height of 56 meters, the Germans have built a small barracks, in which a receiving and transmitting station and listening devices for the connection of the Wehrmacht are placed.

Before the invasion in Normandy, the Germans had planned to have the tower blown up to make it unusable for the enemy. In September of 1943, Mr. W. van Zwieteren, supervisor of the restoration work, discovered that there was a 12-kilo pack of explosives in the small barracks. Van Zwieteren immediately thought of the havoc that the explosive would cause in an explosion. He therefore made a fire-resistant floor covering under the barracks.

Above the signaling device was also a barrel of 200 liters of petrol for a generator that had to generate power in the event of a power failure. A few weeks before the arrival of the Canadians, the commanding Feldwebel told that he would blow the generator with hand grenades and that he would pour the petrol on the floor.

The supervisor immediately informed NSB mayor Tammes, but he sent him away. He had other concerns. He persisted and gave the Feldwebel sledgehammers to smash the generator. He also asked the Feldwebel if they could bring the petrol down. They promised that the Feldwebel would get petrol if he needed it.

They were initially given permission to make a pulley on the scaffolding so that they could lower the barrel of petrol. In a Canadian attack, the engine could also be thrown down. To absorb the shock, they apply a 1-meter layer of sand under the base of the tower.

Friday evening at 7 o'clock the supervisor at the Feldwebel was summoned to lower the petrol. After this, the 150 kg engine was put down at the beginning of the jetty, so that the Germans could let the engine fall down. This happened, but the engine was so heavy that a hole was punched in the ground right through the sand layer. Unfortunately, the 12 kilos of explosives were still present. Its fuse hung on the outside of the tower. Still, the Germans dragged out all the equipment themselves and threw it down. The explosives were no longer needed to destroy the equipment.

Under the foot of the Martinitoren, the Germans deploy a heavy machine gun on Saturday 14 April. German snipers are also positioned in the Martini Tower. On Sunday 15 April, the Germans fire on the Canadians in Gelkingestraat. The Canadians fire back with guns that are positioned on the corner of the Carolieweg. The Martinitoren gets two hits, but is still standing proudly after the fighting.