The Netherlands / Museum
The St. Martinus Church, presumably designed by architect Pierre Cuypers, was destroyed in the fighting for Gennep in February 1945. The tower was one of the few towers along the river Meuse that were spared.
The Martinus Tower is a striking reminder of the immense destruction that befell the northern part of Limburg at the end of the war. The tower overlooks the battlefields of Operation Market Garden (September 1944) and Operation Veritable (February 1945), which is also called the Battle of the Reichswald because this is where the fighting was most intense.
The tower is close to the river Meuse, which was more or less the frontline for five months. Windmills, high buildings and all church towers in the area were shot to pieces or blown up because of their potential use as vantage points. The Martinus Tower was the only tower that was spared from destruction. It is thought that this had to do with the adjacent tuberculosis sanatorium Maria Oord, which had Red Cross flags on its roof, but this has not been confirmed.
In the course of October 1944, the Germans began to evacuate Gennep and the sanatorium. Although the following months were relatively quiet because the worst war violence took place at other fronts, all hell broke loose for Gennep on 8 February 1945. The strategically located town on the river Niers had to be conquered at all costs to be able to enter the area between the rivers Meuse and Rhine. Heavy shellfire determined the fate of the St. Martin's Church then. Miraculously, only the weather vane came down from the tower; the rest remained standing.
At the visitor’s centre, that anyone can visit free of charge, you can find eight short informative videos regarding the end of World War II. The visitor’s centre also is the start and the finish of seven walking and biking routes. Together these routes form a network of walking and biking paths that take you through the region. The St. Martin’s tower is at the centre of the networks.