71. Allied bombings

71. Allied bombings


Burgemeester van Nispenstraat 2, Doetinchem, Pays-Bas
Mots-clés pour ce site historique
Bombardements Destruction Combats
Liberation Route Europe

71. Allied bombings

The town of Doetinchem withstood the war years reasonably well until the very end, when the town was hit by the most severe attacks in all its history. On 19th, 21st and 23rd March 1945, British aircraft bombed the historic town centre, for which a satisfactory explanation has never been given.

At the end of the war, the allied air forces were continually bombing German towns, cities and strategic targets, in the hope that it would bring Germany to its knees more quickly. However, civilian targets in the Netherlands were often hit, which is what happened in Doetinchem on 19th, 21st and 23rd March 1945. The people of Doetinchem were taken completely by surprise. The historical town centre was damaged irreparably and the town hall, synagogue and St. Catherine’s Church went up in flames. In total, 120 buildings were destroyed, 143 people were killed and hundreds wounded.

Were the bombings intentional, or were they a mistake? No one really knows, yet the people of Doetinchem had their suspicions. The first attack (on 19th March) was meant to hit two strategic targets: a factory that made parts for aeroplanes and a communications station. These targets had been identified by the resistance, but the bombs missed both. The second attack (on 21st March) was apparently a mistake. The actual target was the German town of Isselborg, just over the border. Another explanation could have been an allied air force’s attempt to free the roads of German resistance from the air, considering the German occupiers had built substantial reinforcements in Doetinchem for sabotaging the allied advancement.

Heart and soul
The German troops were quite happy with the situation and took advantage of the bombings. They used the ruins of the town to hide in and blocked off the entry roads with old tram carriages.
The resistance managed to save a few bridges before they were blown up and on 2nd April, after some heavy fighting, Doetinchem was liberated by the Canadian Army. The town centre was eventually rebuilt, but it had lost its heart and soul.

Informations touristiques

Citymuseum Doetinchem, Burgemeester van Nispenstraat 2, 7001 BS Doetinchem GPS code: 51.96711, 6.28979

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Burgemeester van Nispenstraat 2, Doetinchem, Pays-Bas