Airborne Museum - Oosterbeek - The Netherlands

Address: Utrechtseweg 232, Oosterbeek (See map)
Telephone: +31 (0)26-3337710

Shop: shop present
Restaurant/refreshments: refreshments
Size of the museum/site: medium
Year of visit: 2000, revisited in 2006

Overall rating:

Description: On the morning of 17 September 1944, thousands of men were entering planes that would bring them far behind enemy-lines. They would be dropped at various locations in the south and east of occupied Holland, with the mission to capture and defend several bridges over the great Dutch rivers Maas, Waal and Rijn. The bridges were to be defended at all costs, providing the opportunity for ground forces to march north from the Belgian-Dutch border all the way to Arnhem and then straight into the heart of Germany. This way the Allies could bypass the massive German defence-line known as the West Wall, and 'end the war before Christmas'. After days of heavy fighting, the ultimate goal of the mission failed: The hard pressed 1st British Parachute Division, trying their utmost to capture the Rijn bridge at Arnhem, ran out of ammunition and was pinned down by German counterattacks. Without the aid of the main ground force, which still hadn't reached Arnhem, the men had to withdraw or surrender, and the Rijn bridge stayed firmly in German hands.

The Airborne museum in Oosterbeek shows the course of operation Market Garden, with special focus on the fighting in and around Arnhem. The building in which the museum is housed, hotel "Hartenstein", played a crucial role during the whole operation. First it served as headquarters for the German commander Model. After capturing it, the 1st British Airborne Division under command of Urquhart set up their own headquarters in the basement of the building.

Entering the museum, the first thing you'll come across is a large videoscreen with a 3d-map in front of it (see picture below). You'll get an interesting account of the events that took place around Arnhem, as all the movements and actions shown on the video are pointed out on the map.

After you've become acquainted with the course and the mayor events of operation Market Garden, you'll have the opportunity to explore the history of the operation in greater detail. The museum features a unique collection of photos, telling the story of what happened in Arnhem and Oosterbeek. There also are a lot of weapons, uniforms and other pieces of equipment on display, used by the various forces taking part in Market Garden. The most stunning part of the collection is formed by the very realistic diorama's in the basement of the building. They show events like the caring for the wounded, the celebrations of the local population, the Division-staff at work in Hartenstein, and of course the actual fighting.

All in all there's enough to be seen for anyone with an interest into WWII / Market Garden.

The large videoscreen and 3d-map that are used to give visitors a detailed account of the fighting around Arnhem and Oosterbeek.

Just a few of the many photographs that hang on the walls of the museum, describing the course of Market Garden.

Paratrooper of the 1st British Airborne Division, dropped in the Arnhem-area with the mission to capture the Rijnbrug. Next to him is a dummy parachutist, dropped by the Royal Airforce to mislead the Germans.

Detail of a large diorama dealing with British troops making their way through Oosterbeek, in an attempt to reach the Rijnbrug in Arnhem. This paratrooper crosses the town on an Excelsior Welbike. The compact Welbike was especially designed to be parachute dropped as paratrooper transport.

Carefully reconstructed signal post at the headquarters of the 1st British Airborne Division in the basement of Hotel Hartenstein. British radiocommunications failed hopelessly during the fighting near Arnhem, which was one of the reasons why the mission did not succeed.

Diorama of the men of the 3rd Airlanding Light Battery of the Royal Artillery, firing their Howitzers from the forelands at Oosterbeek-Laag. They gave supporting fire to allied troops fighting near the Rijnbrug in Arnhem.

German soldier trying to work his wireless radio-equipment (Tornister Funkgerät D2).

Fully equiped SS troops. Instead of 'old men and children', the allied paratroopers faced battle-hardened SS soldiers during their attempt to capture the bridges in the Arnhem area.

Original sign that was used by the Germans at the outskirts of Arnhem to warn people that it was forbidden to enter the city at penalty of death. Directly after Market Garden the Germans sacked the whole city as a form of revenge. All citizens had to leave while their homes were plundered and destroyed.

Sherman (M4) tank on display outside the museum. The Sherman tank was the most commonly used tank during WWII on the allied side.