The Netherlands / Story
Valkenburg was in the middle of a three-kilometre-wide breach in the German defences on 14 September 1944. The American troops tried to exploit the situation by advancing through the centre of Valkenburg to drive a wedge between two German infantry divisions. The defenders countered the attempt with heavy artillery fire, which hit the beautiful centre particularly hard. The shelling continued until the early morning of 17 September.
Coming from Maastricht, the medieval Grendelpoort used to be the only access to the old centre. All traffic had to pass through it. In May 1940, the German army entered through the narrow gate in the direction of Maastricht, and in September 1944, troops and tanks of the American Old Hickory Division did the same in the opposite direction. Everything only just fitted in.
Not long before that, pupils of the SS-Reichsschule, an elite school for future Nazi leaders, marched through the same gate while making music, after they had taken a Sunday walk in Valkenburg.
Muntstraat 17, 6301 BW Valkenburg