We spent five hours today at the Nationaal Bevrijdingsmuseum 1944 – 1945, the National Liberation Museum. It is not specifically about the 82nd or 101st Airborne; it describes what lead up to the war, the occupation of the Netherlands, the liberation, and the rebuilding of the country. Though Dennis did not discover anything directly pertaining to his father, he developed a better understanding of Operation Market Garden, the code name for the liberation effort in which he participated. It also gave Dennis a better idea of the kinds of questions he needs to pursue.
The museum contains a chapel with books listing those that died during the occupation and liberation. It is very sobering. Not only are there plagues honoring American troops, but also some for Britain, Canada, Poland, the Netherlands, and others.
There was also a special Canadian War Brides exhibit that, in my opinion, was the best part of the museum. The artist, Beverly Tosh, a daughter of a war bride, painted 22 portraits of Dutch war brides and displays these with stories of each woman and personal objects, including a wedding dress made from parachute silk. More than 2000 Dutch women emigrated to Canada to marry their love; 7000 babies were born in the Netherlands purportedly with Canadian fathers. “In 20 years, if there is another war, the Canadians do not need to send troops, just uniforms” was a popular post-war Dutch saying.
Following the war, most abandoned gliders, armaments, helmets, and other war paraphernalia were re-purposed. Helmets were used as colanders, glider wood for buildings, glider wheels for carts and toys, glider struts for legs for amputees, shell casing for ornaments and candle holders, and lots more. This tobacco cutter (left), made of car and bicycle parts, is an example of such ingenuity; it is very different from today’s small cigarette rolling machines.