50. Evacuate the Zoo!
When the Allied advance came to a standstill in Arnhem during the
failed Operation Market Garden of September 1944, the Rhine became
the new front line: the Allied troops to the south of the river and
Germans to the north. Once again, just like in 1940, Rhenen found
itself on the front line. And with it, Ouwehands Dierenpark - the
When the Allied advance came to a standstill at the River Rhine in September 1944, Rhenen became the new frontline. The town was severely damaged by Allied gun fire and in the October, most of the residents were forced to leave their homes. A few people were allowed to stay behind in the zoo, Ouwehands Dierenpark, to look after the animals that had been left behind. In the November, the Germans shot the wildest of the animals because they were afraid they might escape.
Then, on 16th February 1945, the order was given to evacuate the rest of the zoo. These animals were taken to Veenendaal in a colourful parade the following day. Various animals escaped on the way and when they arrived in Veenendaal, they were given shelter in the Panter cigar factory. They moved the animals from Veenendaal to Doorn, where they remained until May 1945. Rhenen had been badly hit and its residents were not allowed to return home until June 1945. Almost all of the empty houses had been ransacked and a large proportion of the southern part of the town centre lay in ruins, including the railway bridge over the Rhine and the town's symbolic church, the Cunerakerk.
In the square outside Gemeentemuseum Het Rondeel (the municipal museum), on Kerkstraat road. GPS code: 51°57'26.70’’N 5°33’55.00’’O