Last Sunday, we visited the Oorlogsmuseum in Overloon. In English – War Museum in Overloon.
The museum was opened on May 25th 1946, making it one of the oldest museums in Europe dedicated to World War II. Located just miles from the German border, the Overloon Oorlogsmuseum is the largest war museum in The Netherlands. The museum is located where a World War II tank and infantry battle between Allied and German forces that occurred in September and October 1944, in the aftermath of Operation Market Garden. More info on the liberation route can be found here too. The complex includes the National War and Resistance Museum as well as the Marshall Museum with its vast collection of more than 200 historic military vehicles.
In fact, many of the exhibited vehicles took part in the Battle of Overloon. In 2006 the collection was expanded with a large number of vehicles from a private collection.
The museum is set in 14 hectares of woodland. It was the day of the MAJOR windstorm so we didn’t spend any time outdoors amongst the trees – so no idea what it was like beyond the pathway to the front door which did display some sculptures. There was a climb structure above – not sure if that is something you can do alone or part of the museum, but as cars were blowing back and forth on the highway and later we saw trees were being uprooted, I’m glad we didn’t stick around to find out.
A feature of the museum is the large number of military vehicles and equipment on display, both German and Allied forces. Apparently for many years they were kept in the open air, but have recently been moved indoors in order to help preserve them. Never seen it before, I think it’s great as it is and couldn’t imagine visiting them outside.
The war museum building itself can be divided into two main areas:
Nationaal Oorlogs – A National War and Resistance Museum which is a traditional, multi-media museum covering various aspects related to the Second World War.
I found this part informational and sad at the same time – touching upon experiences of real people and families. Almost all signs and descriptions are in Dutch, English and German.
The section explains the run up to the Second World War from 1918 onwards – The Netherlands remained neutral during the First World War and was hoping for the same second time round. The Netherlands was overrun by the German army within days in May 1940 thus much coverage is given to the following occupation. You can get more of this if you visit the Verzetsmuseum (Resistance Museum) in Amsterdam.
Displays show how pro-Nazi groups within the Netherlands were formed – terrible really! And of course, more pan-European themes including the influence of propaganda, the Holocaust, etc.
Marshall Museum – a extra large indoor hall with around 200 military vehicles and other war equipment including tanks, shells, planes, etc.
Here so many military vehicles of all kinds are on display here with hardware from all nations. The majority of the vehicles, planes and boats are from the Second World War but a few items are older such as the Cold War period.
Some of the material is set up as if in a battlefield but generally the vehicles are packed in. Special dioramas include the D-Day invasion of Normandy (this is what Bernie would LOVE) the battles of Arnhem and the Ardennes, and the Cold War era equipment used by the Warsaw Pact countries. I personally found it nice, the kids found some things cool too like the duck boats!
As we left, we visited a film area called the Block Buster, where visitors experience an air raid. We first spent a few minutes inside a plane dropping bombs over a city and taking fire, then we hear the noise and see the flashes from inside a town center, and finally spent a few minutes in an air raid shelter during the bombardment. This is recommended towards kids 10+ as there were photos of dead bodies on the screen but we found it suitable for our nearly 9 year old.
Overall it was interesting. Personally, I know my dad and my friend’s dad, Bernie, would LOVE to visit such a museum. I think if either ever make a visit from Boston to the Netherlands, this place would be a place we’d recommend they visit.
Admission is €16.00 per adult and €11 per child but with our Museumkaarts – it is FREE! I know I’ve mentioned before how much I love our Museumkaarts!
While there was a restaurant on site which looked good, but as they closed at 5 pm, we chose to visit a local place called Museumzicht Eetcafe & Pannekoekenjuis for a quick meal before heading back. With the kids so hungry, the thought of having to prepare dinner after driving home, was not appealing. When I was in the bathroom I saw that this place offers a dinner/museum entry combo which I thought was a nice thing. Their guests were mainly older couples 65+ so perhaps they were there for an early bird special. They have an outdoor terrace, nice wit beer on tap and an area for kids to play outside but as I mentioned above, it was dangerously windy so we were not going outside today!
Plan your visit:
OVERLOON WAR MUSEUM
5825 AM OVERLOON