Thursday, June 25, 2015

Rotterdam, May 14, 1940

Rotterdam is one of Europe's great cities. Until quite recently, it was the world's largest port. When the Dutch resisted Hitler's advances in May, 1940--his armies already were in Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and France, but he needed airfields with proximity to the UK--he ordered his Luftwaffe to destroy Rotterdam, as an example. The old city was indeed destroyed...fewer than a dozen great buildings remained. And the bombing occurred during a cease-fire and negotiations. The city had been evacuated, and only a thousand people were killed. But historic Rotterdam, the medieval center, was gone after the bombing and days of uncontrollable fire. Utrecht would be next, the Germans said, and the Dutch did finally capitulate. On May 15, the day after the bombing of Rotterdam, the Brits changed the previously military-targets-only policy of the RAF.

After the war, Rotterdam was faced with the decision of how to rebuild. Much of Europe chose, literally, to rebuild. But Rotterdam chose to build a new city and a new Europe. The resulting architectural adventures are something one has to see.
Old city and inner port, May, 1940

One of many memorials in the town

Another before photo

One of the very few structures in central
Rotterdam to have survived the bombing

Another memorial

The official memorial, on the old harbor


After the blitz...

Photo of the Rotterdam cathedral/grote kerk after the bombing

Reminders of what was

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