Paesi Bassi / Luogo di interesse
De Vereeniging Concert Hall in Nijmegen endured a lot during the Second World War: bombings, fighting, a period on the front line. However, for many soldiers it remained in their memory as 'The Wintergarden' (as they called it), and the partying heart of the city.
De Vereeniging Concert Hall, located on Keizer-Karelelplein and so at the intersection of several important roads through Nijmegen, has an interesting story to tell about the war. Although the building was mostly spared during the bombing, this changed after the airborne landings of September 1944. There was fierce fighting around the Keizer Karelplein, as this was the road to both the city centre and the city's bridges. Similarly, De Vereeniging Concert Hall suffered several hits.
After the liberation of the city by the Allies, De Vereeniging was requisitioned from the German occupiers. There was a lot of stealing and destruction at that time, and after the war the Director of the Concert Hall said that he was hardly in charge of the building during this period.
The time spent as a city on the front line was a bizarre one. The city was regularly shelled and many bridge bombings took place. At the same time, Nijmegen was the main leave centre for the soldiers in the region, who spent their free time there looking for distraction and fun. "Throughout the day, the city was shelled. Saturday night four shells fell nearby. Last night we had two dance parties at the same time again," the director Martijn Louis Deinum wrote in his diary on 3 December 1944. On busy days, there were hundreds of visitors.
From November 1944, there were mainly Canadian soldiers stationed in and around Nijmegen. Their task was to defend the front and protect the bridges from German attacks. De Vereeniging, referred to as Wintergarden by the soldiers, became the heart of the city.
However, not everyone was happy about what was happening in the dark corners of the hall on those dance party nights, especially parents of young ladies, and representatives of the church were worried about the relationships being made there. But since the ladies often came home with presents, like cigarettes or chocolates, little was done to stop it and the dance parties continued. Both the residents of the town and the soldiers yearned for a slice of normality during the bizarre front line period.
Keizer Karelplein 2D