Freedom shouldn’t be taken for granted. That is the message of the Oorlogsmuseum in Overloon. In the museum, situated in this beautiful and wooded park, you will experience the occupation and the persecution, but also the resistance and D-Day. And, of course, the Battle at Overloon during the liberation of the southern Netherlands.
National War and Resistance Museum
War belongs in the museum. That is the motto of the Dutch National War and Resistance Museum, which is one of the two theme museums in Oorlogsmuseum. In the National War and Resistance Museum, the history of the Second World War is presented. Here, you will see how it came to be that, in a period of five years, more than fifty million people lost their lives. But also how the oppressed population managed to cope with restrictions and shortages in a resourceful way. Attention is given to the resistance in those days, but also to the persecution. And finally, of course, to the liberation, with special attention to the Battle at Overloon.
What happened here?
In September 1944, Montgomery devised the Market Garden attack plan. The combination of airborne landings at Arnhem and clearing a narrow corridor through the southern Netherlands was supposed to facilitate the further advance to Berlin. The plan was only half successful. The allied troops wanted to widen and reinforce their corridor. However, the German opponent tried to cut the Allies off. They came to blows on 30 September near Overloon. German Panther tanks and American Sherman tanks fired upon each other continuously. About a week later, British troops joined the battle as well. Eventually, it took almost three weeks before Overloon, and Venray further south, were liberated. The Battle at Overloon is known as the heaviest tank battle ever on Dutch soil. In the museum you will still find several vehicles from that battle, such as a German Panther tank, and British and American tanks and guns.
In a space of more than 10,000 square metres there are more than 150 historical vehicles, vessels and aircraft, which provide an excellent overview of the military efforts during the Second World War. You will find layouts that provide you with a picture of the invasion in Normandy on D-Day, and also of the Battle at Arnhem and the Battle in the Ardennes.
Also central in the Marshall Museum is the Red Ball Highway. This was the name of the American logistical system used to supply the front-line troops during their advance into France. The materials on display are in top condition and as good as new. No surprise, since almost all vehicles have been dismantled and reassembled, and made roadworthy again!
The park occupies more than 14 hectares and is open to the general public during daytime hours. It offers peace and space, and the freedom to think about the efforts that had to be made for liberty.
In 1944, the biggest tank battle in Dutch history took place here at Overloon, which is why a museum was established on this battlefield after the war. The tanks, guns and other vehicles that had been left behind were then brought together in this park. On the same soil where the infantry fought – man to man…
The collection had been kept outdoors for many years when the decision was made to relocate it indoors. In so doing, the artefacts will be better preserved. Thus, future generations will also be able to see with their own eyes how the Battle for Overloon was fought.