Wageningen Peace Negotiations 1945
The negotiation and terms of surrender of the German forces in the Netherlands, May 1945, left behind a wealth of material and memories both of which are on display in this exhibition. Centerpieces around the signing such as the act itself, the table around which this historical moment took place can be seen and interviews with Wageningen citizens recounting the events can be heard.
City in the firing line
In 1939 the municipality of Wageningen were given the task of drawing up an evacuation plan. When it should come to war, the troops of Nazi Germany had to be stopped at the Grebbe line, 5 KM to the west of Wageningen. In that case Wageningen would find itself right in the firing line. On the morning of May 10, 1940 Mayor Ijzerman received the anxiously expected telegram that the evacuation of the population should begin immediately That afternoon more than 13,000 residents walked in a tightly controlled group to the port. Within a few hours they were embarked and left for the west. The exact destination was unknown to the evacuees.
For a couple of days there was a heavy fighting. From the Grebbe line the Dutch army tried to bomb the Germans out of the center of Wageningen. A great deal of the city was destroyed.
Town in turmoil
Shortly after the massive evacuation the Wageningen people were allowed to return home and begin rebuilding the town centre. Life slowly returned to normal. From 1943 however the situation became more and more uncertain and dangerous. The resistance movement attempted increasingly dangerous acts. People were killed by attacks and reprisals. Bombings by the Germans and Allied forces killed dozens of citizens. And in September 1944, when the Allied forces were approaching, the entire population was evacuated again.
City of Liberation
Wageningen was liberated on April 17, 1945, but at that supreme moment there was no one to welcome the liberators, the population still being evacuated. On May 5 the Canadian general Charles Foulkes met his German counterpart Johannes Blaskowitz in the Wageningen Hotel ‘ The Wereld ‘(The World). There they negotiate the terms for the withdrawal of the German troops out of the Netherlands. As of May 15, the Wageningen population can return to their homes. Only then can they understand that from their city peace has come to the entire country. With the “Peace of Wageningen" five years of occupation have come to an end. The Netherlands are free again!
In the afternoon of may 10 1940, all inhabitants of the city of Wageningen, are forced to abandon their beloved city. Ships carry them to safety in cities like Lekkerkerk and Krimpen aan den IJssel.
When they returned home, their homes and citycenter were in ruïns.
At the end of april 1945, German highcommand approved foodconvoys to the hungerstricken west of The Netherlands.
On the 5th of may 1945, general Charles Foulkes at Hotel De Wereld, dictates the capitulationdecrees to the German highcommand. Next day they met again to sign the definitive documents.