Paesi Bassi / Audiospot

42. Engulfed in fire and smoke




Indicazioni stradali

The final years of the war are tough on the people of Huissen. Hundreds are killed and wounded during heavy allied bombing and the town is devastated. Most victims are buried in a mass grave out of pure necessity. There just isn´t enough wood for that many coffins. The suffering is indescribable.

17th September 1944, a beautiful summer’s day, saw the start of Operation Market Garden. At around half past eleven, an allied aircraft dropped its deadly cargo on the Looveer ferry, taking multiple casualties. When Operation Market Garden failed, Huissen found itself on the frontlines stuck between two major battlefields: Arnhem and Nijmegen.

On 1st October, British reconnaissance planes sighted Germans tanks in Huissen and the next day, allied bombers approaching from the direction of Arnhem, dropped their all-destroying freight on the town in the hope they would take out the German tanks. The tanks were long gone.

The Dominican monastery became a post for the local civil service, Red Cross, Air Protection Service and Food Service. Hundreds of refugees found shelter in the cloister's corridors. During that time, the monastery was a lazaret (hospital), where operations were performed, people died, and babies entered the world.

The victims were taken to a mass grave. Except one, who lost his fight a few hours after being pulled out of the rubble that was the Dominican Cloister Presbytery. It was Father Th. van Wijk. He was laid to rest in the crypt until 1945, when he was taken to his final resting place in the mass grave.

After the war, the monastery garden became a temporary resting place for fallen soldiers, and aid from the monastery continued. In 1945, the soup kitchen was vital for many residents.

In 2013, an information panel was unveiled at the Monastery Chapel telling the story of the Dominican Monastery in words and pictures.

The cemetery is accessible every day and offers peace, nature and contemplation.

Stadsdam 1, Huissen