Pays-Bas / Fortification
In September 1944 the Allies launched Operation Market Garden with the goal of capturing several bridges in the Netherlands and to secure a quick advance towards the heart of Germany. The bunker in Valkhofpark was part of the German defence system of the crucial bridge over the Waal river in Nijmegen.
Operation Market Garden revolved around the capture of bridges. The task of capturing these bridges fell to the ca. 35.000 Allied paratroopers who were dropped over the Netherlands. The airborne forces needed to capture the bridges and hold them until they could be relieved by the ground forces.
Market Garden came as a complete surprise to the German troops but they quickly recovered from their initial shock and put up a stiff defence. In Nijmegen this defence centred around the Valkhofpark which blocked the approach to the traffic bridge over the Waal river.
The bunker in Valkhofpark was part of a series of three bunkers that were built near the traffic bridge in Nijmegen. These bunkers were constructed in 1943 with the goal of covering all approaches to the bridge. The bunkers were connected by a system of trenches that were manned by the Waffen-SS during Operation Market Garden. These men managed to fight of several Allied attacks before the traffic bridge was finally captured on 20 September 1944.
The bunker in Valkhofpark is the only surviving bunker as the others were removed in 1947 and 1984. One possible reason for this is that the other two bunkers were more actively involved in the fighting and too heavily damaged to retain. In September 2016 the remaining bunker was opened to the general public by the Valkhof Bunker Foundation. The bunker houses an exhibition that tells the story of the liberation of Nijmegen and the battles for the Waalbridges.