Museum 1940 – 1945
Nieuwe Haven 27 – 28
3311 AP Dordrecht
Ideally situated at the confluence of the river Oude Maas (Old Meuse) and the river Beneden Merwede (Lower Merwede), lies the oldest city of ‘Holland’, Dordrecht. The old centre still possesses the facades of historical buildings and arches, among which the Grote or Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kerk (The Great or Our Lady’s Church) and the Prinsenhof/Hofcomplex (Prince’s Court/Court Complex. In Dordrecht at one of the harbours, the Nieuwe Haven (New Harbour), the Museum 1940 – 1945 is situated in an ancient building, at number 27-28. The Second World War also left its mark on this former garrison city of pontoneers and torpedists, the old historical city of Dordrecht.
The position of the city of Dordrecht in May 1940 was unique and strategically significant, also because of its location and the very important bridges for railway and traffic at Moerdijk and Zwijndrecht, both during the German invasion and the German occupation. Because of the approaching liberation of the south of the country at the end of 1944 and the advancing Allied Forces, the position of Dordrecht as a frontline city remained of great strategic importance.
This fact, among others, was the reason for the foundation of the Museum 1940 – 1945. The aim was to furnish a museum that would keep the memory of the years 1939-1945 alive, and so pass on the lesson that should be learnt from this to ‘present and future generations’. The basis of the museum collection was formed bij the private collection of Mr. K.P. Makkelie. Since the opening of the museum, on June 10th 1988, by H.R.H. Prince Bernhard, further additions have been made to the collection, The museum collection, spread out over two floors, can be admired in numerous display cases and on panels with photographs and posters. You will find a large number of historical uniforms, rifles, hand guns and utensils. Besides several old bicycles, there is also an original Willy Jeep on display. Added to this are scale models illustrating strategic scenes which together help visualise this dark period in Dutch History.
It is possible to watch audio-visual material, for example, the rise of the Nazis in the thirties, the occupation, persecution, resistance and liberation. There is also a room where films from the Second World War are shown, such as the attack on the bridges at Moerdijk by German paratroopers, the Biesbosch Crossings and many more. The museum has its own library which houses a very extensive collection of books, supplemented by a large selection of local an national newspapers, periodicals and pamphlets.