43. Distress and destruction
After the failure of the Battle of Arnhem, the Over-Betuwe region becomes the frontline. German commander Harmel turns Doornenburg´s medieval castle into his headquarters and attacks from allied bombers and German troops leave little of the town intact. The consequences for the population are catastrophic and many civilians are killed. Father Wiegerinck keeps a diary of the events.
On 2nd October 1944 the Allies carried out an air raid on occupied Doornenburg that resulted in many civilian casualties. The wounded were sent to the convent, the vicarage and the castle for first aid where a Red Cross post had been set up. The castle provided shelter to some 150 people including the owner, people in hiding, the elderly, the wounded and fugitives.
The beginning of that October marked the start of trench warfare which led to a chain of evacuations. On 7th October, the Germans ordered the evacuation of Doornenburg and took possession of the castle until March 1945.
In January 1945, allied bombers destroyed part of the castle and in March, Typhoons turned the main castle and the keep to ruins. What was left was then blown up by the Germans. February 1945 saw the start of the final allied attack on Germany. This eventually resulted in the allied troops crossing the Rhine successfully. That was in March 1945. On 2nd April, the towns and villages in Over-Betuwe were liberated.
1945 after the end of the war, the Foundation for the Preservation of Castle Doornenburg (Stichting tot Behoud van den Doornenburg) took the decision to restore the castle for a second time.
Doornenburg Castle Kerkstraat 27 6686 BS Doornenburg GPS code: 51°53'41.26’’N 5°59’56.64’’O