The Netherlands / Monument
The liberation of Meijel began on 25 September 1944 and lasted almost two months until the final liberation on 17 November 1944. The front surged up and down, and the few who had not been evacuated by the liberators by the end of September saw their village gradually turn into an immense ruin.
The destruction of the Peel village started on 25 September 1944 when the Germans blew up the Nicolaas church, which was also known as the cathedral of the Peel. The explosion was so powerful that a large part of the centre was transformed into an immense ruin.
The British liberators arrived one day later. They immediately started evacuating the population, because the Germans were in the neighbourhood and were besieging Meijel with their artillery. It soon became clear that the Germans intended to recapture the strategically located village of Meijel and its surroundings. This is why the village repeatedly went from being occupied to being liberated and vice versa.
On 27 October, the Germans even launched a major offensive, which was only repelled at the cost of huge losses of lives and equipment. Until 5 November, there was at times fierce fighting in the vicinity of the Peel village.
More than a week later, on 14 November, the British finally seized the initiative. Once again, it came to a confrontation in Meijel, as a result of which literally nothing was left of the badly battered Nicolaas church. Five days later, on 19 November, the fighting around Meijel was finally over. Afterwards, people also spoke of the battle in the mud because of the heavy autumn rains and the swampy ground.
The War and Peace Monument, a bronze statue of Jacob and the Archangel, commemorates the struggle for regaining freedom. The upper relief depicts the evacuation of the people of Meijel, and the lower one a soldier's farewell to his wife and children. The base of the monument, which shows a map of the municipality of Meijel, is made of stones from the river Meuse. Fragments of the church of Meijel, which was destroyed in the months of liberation, can also be found near the statue.