New Liberation Route Europe theme routes in Limburg explore the liberation of the province

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Limburg article

The Dutch province of Limburg becomes part of the international Liberation Route Europe hiking trails system with unique themed routes dedicated to its liberation. The itinerary runs for more than 300 kilometers from Mesch to Mook, through the whole region, and includes over 100 sites and stories linked to the final phases of the Second World War.

In September 2022, the trails will be presented in Mesch, where American troops crossed the Belgian-Dutch border for the first time in 1944. Meanwhile, the routes through Limburg and more than 100 stories can be explored on the Liberation Route Europe website. Besides two main itineraries connecting sites in Limburg, Liberation Route Europe also introduced four shorter hikes to explore the history in the region of South-Limburg and the towns of Gennep, Venlo and Nederweert. The website and newly launched Liberation Route mobile app allow visitors to easily plan their walks along the new theme routes and discover the rich WWII history of the province of Limburg.

The LRE Foundation, initiator of the Liberation Route Europe, has been working closely with Limburg Marketing, Routebureau Noord- en Midden-Limburg, Routepunt Visit Zuid-Limburg and historian Fred Cammaert on these walking routes about the Liberation of Limburg. This innovative sustainable project has been funded by the Province of Limburg, all municipalities in Limburg, Ons WCL Midden-Limburg and the vfonds (National Fund for Peace, Freedom and Veteran Care).

The Liberation of Limburg
As early as 12 September 1944, the villages of Mesch, Mheer and Noorbeek in the south of Limburg were liberated. At that time, nobody thought that the liberation of the rest of the province would take another six months and would entail brutal fights. Whereas the largest part of southern Limburg did not suffer significant damage due to the lack of Nazi resistance, a fierce battle soon broke out in the central and northern parts of the province. Thousands of soldiers and civilians lost their lives. Artillery shelling, bombardments, looting, raids, deportations and forced evacuations determined everyday life for months. Places like Venlo, Venray and Gennep changed into a wasteland of rubble.

Only on 3 March 1945 did the Allied troops arrive in the villages of Arcen, Velden and Bergen, and Well in North Limburg. Their arrival marked the end of the Nazi occupation in the entire province. The price of freedom had been immense and had left an indelible sign. Today, hundreds of monuments, museums and memorials keep this painful yet crucial memory alive.   

To follow in the footsteps of history in Limburg and discover more locations along the Liberation Route Europe, visit the website or download the new Liberation Route Europe mobile app here.