Paesi Bassi / Audiospot

The American bombing




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On the 22nd of February 1944, Nijmegen was hit by a veritable carpet of bombs. American pilots carried out a bombing raid on Nijmegen's railway station, but hit the city centre. Many lost their lives during this bombardment. Men, women and many children.

Until February 22, 1944, Nijmegen was known as the 'City of the towers'. On that date, the city centre was almost totally destroyed by American bomber aircraft mistakenly dropping their bombs above the city centre. The actual target was the nearby train station. Old photographs show the former glory of the houses in this, the oldest Dutch city. On that day, Old Nijmegen was largely reduced to rubble.

Hundreds of bodies were recovered from the ruins. In February 26 1944, thousands joined a funeral procession to the churchyard on the Graafseweg, paying their last respects to relatives, neighbours, friends and fellow-citizens. The dead were laid to rest there in mass graves, which remain to this day.

In the Raadhuishof (town hall court) in Nijmegen, a monument has been erected in memory of the 763 nijmegen residents who died: 'De Schommel' (the swing). The dead included 24 children and eight nuns from an infant school which formerly stood on the site of the monument.

The audio clip still speaks of a mistake bombing. For years, it was thought that the US pilots thought they were flying over German Kleve. However, recent research showed that the Nijmegen train station was the actual target.  

Raadhuishof, near memorial ‘De Schommel’ (the swing)