|Airborne Museum 'Hartenstein'|
The Airborne Museum Hartenstein, formerly the Hotel Hartenstein and the HQ of 1st Airborne Division during the Battle of Arnhem.
|Location||Oosterbeek, Gelderland, Netherlands|
The Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’ in Oosterbeek, The Netherlands is a museum dedicated to the Battle of Arnhem, fought in September 1944. During the battle the building was the headquarters of the British forces fighting in and around Oosterbeek and Arnhem. The Museum shows a diverse and extensive collection of original weapons, uniforms and equipment, alongside interviews, pictures and videos about the battle. In addition to this collection, the museum has an award-winning Airborne Experience exhibition, that depicts the area as it appeared during the battle. The museum also describes the German and civilian perspectives of the battle.
History of the Hotel Hartenstein
Records suggest that in 1728 an inn, named ‘Het Rode Hert’ (‘The Red Deer’), existed in Oosterbeek at the 'Utrechtseweg', an important crossroads. In 1779 a wealthy attorney to the Court of Gelderland named J. van der Sluys, bought the inn and the surround land. The inn was pulled down and a mansion with annexes was build on the plot. After completion the mansion was given the name ‘Hartenstein’.
After the death of Van der Sluys, ‘Hartenstein’ belonged to a variety of owners. In 1865 the present building was built on the site and next to it the owner built a coach house (now the site of the restaurant ‘Hartenstein@Laurie'). In 1905 the villa was expended with two conservatories. Finally, in 1942, the Municipality of Renkum became the new owner and transformed it into a hotel.
Operation Market Garden and the Battle of Arnhem
After the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, the Allied troops made a quick advance to towards Germany. The supply troops could not keep up with the troops on the front line causing the advance to a halt. A new frontline was formed in Belgium and France. To avoid the Siegfried Line, Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery planned an operation in which Allied forces would occupy several bridges in the Netherlands between Eindhoven and Arnhem. If this mission succeeded, the road to Germany would be open. Operation Market Garden started on September 17th 1944 and ended in the morning of September 26th. In the end, Operation Market Garden failed due to a combination of factors. A lack of lift aircraft to transport the 1st Airborne and the Polish Brigade on the first day, poorly chosen drop and landing zones too far from Arnhem bridge, an unrealistic timetable for their relief by XXX Corps, and above all, intense German opposition by the unexpected presence of SS armoured forces in the Arnhem area.
In the area around Arnhem more than ten thousand men of the British 1st Airborne Division and the Glider Pilot Regiment landed north of the Lower Rhine, whilst the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade landed on its southern banks in order to capture the Arnhem Road Bridge. Over 700 men under the command of John Dutton Frost did manage to reach the bridge and held its northern ramp for 4 days, but the bulk of the British forces were engaged by superior German forces (including the II SS Panzer Corps) and became trapped in Oosterbeek. General-major Roy Urquhart chose ‘Hartenstein’ as his headquarters. After holding out north of the Rhine for nine days the Division had to be withdrawn, although just over 2,000 of the 10,000 men who had landed reached the Poles south of the river. The Allied troops lost the Battle of Arnhem and ‘Hartenstein’ was left in a heavily damaged condition.
Shortly after the Second World War, plans were made to open a museum about the battle. In 1949 a museum was opened in Doorwerth Castle near the Rhine. Soon it became evident that the castle was not big enough to display the growing collection and a better location was sought. The Hotel ‘Hartenstein’, which had resumed its role as a hotel after the war, was purchased for the role and on 11 May 1978, General-major Roy Urquhart officially opened the Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’.
In 2008, the museum temporarily closed its doors in order to renovate and expand and a brand new lobby and basement were added to the building. The basement was used to display the new 'Airborne Experience', a series of dioramas of the battle. The display was awarded the a Gouden Reiger (“The Golden Heron” Dutch awards for audience interactions), in the category three-dimensional media. The museum was reopened in September 2009, on the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem.
Each year the Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’ is involved in events commemorating the Battle of Arnhem. It also serves as a gathering place for veterans, civilians and young people. The museum is close to the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery where several hundred of the Allied casualties are buried. Every year the participants of the Airborne March pay a special tribute when the parade is held in front of the museum.
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- Archive of Gelderland
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