The Netherlands / Themed route

Liberation of the South of Limburg

122.47 km

Cycling route


On 12 September 1944, the first Americans crossed the Belgian-Dutch border and liberated the villages of Mesch, Mheer and Noorbeek in the extreme south of Limburg. The main target of their advance was Aachen, the first city on German territory. Due to the lack of German resistance, South Limburg was relatively spared. This changed as the Americans came closer to the defence line along the German western border, the Westwall. Aachen was taken only after fierce fighting on 21 October.

Along the river Geul and in Valkenburg, the Germans also offered significant resistance for a short time. Kerkrade, which lies near the German border, was largely evacuated at the end of September. The inhabitants had to walk right through the front to liberated territory. Despite a temporary ceasefire, German artillery shelled them en route, killing 13 people and wounding many refugees. The contrasts were particularly sharp, because elsewhere it was not as bad. Some inhabitants of a village in the hilly country went to a neighbouring village in order not to miss the liberation celebration. Late at night, they returned to their hometown, which was still in German hands.

In many places, traces of the Second World War are still visible. The most impressive place is without doubt the American cemetery in Margraten. Here you can see and feel what freedom means.

Sites and stories along the route