Fleeing from Venray

GETUIGENVERHALEN.NL

 

Realisation project:

drs. E. van den Dungen, Liberty Park Overloon (©)

OORLOGSMUSEUM.NL

 

Time frame: 1944-1945
Location: The Netherlands
Number of interviews: 7

 

Thematical collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog

DANS: https://doi.org/10.17026/dans-zba-ahpj

 

 

 

 

The liberation of the Netherlands is often associated with festive tank arrivals. Much less is known is how much violence accompanied the liberation struggle and how many victims fell, especially in the south of the Netherlands, during the Allied attempt to liberate our country in 1944.

 

For example, a major tank battle took place near Overloon in September 1944. That battle began on 26 September 1944. The next day the German occupier ordered all 1,300 inhabitants of Overloon to leave their village immediately. In the pouring rain the refugees reached Venray, where they found shelter in convents, a boarding school and a psychiatric clinic. But they would only be safe there for a short time. On 18 October Venray was liberated, but continued to be bombarded by artillery fire. By order of the British army staff, the Venray population, including the refugees from Overloon, had to be evacuated. The entire winter of 1944/1945 Venray remained uninhabited frontline territory. When the population gradually returned in 1945, they found a devastated and empty village.

 

In two oral history projects (‘Vluchten uit Overloon op last van de bezetter’ and ‘Vluchten uit Venray op aandringen van Brits Gezag’ – 2009) the evacuees of that time were interviewed. What was it like to have to leave hearth and home at full speed? To be housed elsewhere for months on end and to return to a destroyed village? And did it matter whether they had to leave by order of the liberator or the occupier?