Time Travel: Utrecht’s Liberation

Biltstraat
It was on this date — 7 May 1945 — that Canadian and British forces arrived to officially liberate Utrecht from Nazi control. Although the main liberation of the country was 5 May, it took time for all cities to be fully liberated. Some transitioned relatively smoothly, while other cities, such as Arnhem, suffered under last-ditch efforts from German forces.

7mei1945wittevrouwenHUA
(photo courtesy Het Utrechtse Archief)

When the Allied forces arrived in Utrecht, they came into the city center from Biltstraat, moving along Wittevrouwenstraat and Voorstraat, as seen in the photo above. The street is instantly recognizable, even today.
Liberation

You can also see some silent footage of the residents celebrating the arrival of the liberating troops throughout the city in this short video:

Intocht van de bevrijders in Utrecht, 1945 from De Utrechter on Vimeo.

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12 thoughts on “Time Travel: Utrecht’s Liberation

  1. Hi Alison,

    I remember the day well. May 7 was the day that units of the 49th (West Riding) Division of the British Army liberated Baarn. It was a beautiful spring day, and we walked to the Oranjeboom, the point where the road to Hilversum split off from the old main highway between Amersfoort and Amsterdam. Most of the troops went on to liberate Hilversum and Bussum, but parts of the Duke of Wellington’s regiment stayed in Baarn. Several vehicles, trucks and jeeps, parked along Emmalaan in the afternoon, and we children decorated them with flowers, while the adults talked with the soldiers. It’s a day I’m unlikely to forget even in my dotage: I’m getting emotional just sitting here and writing about it.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your own personal memories. I always appreciate getting to hear first-hand stories and I know how important events like this can stay fresh in your mind. I’ve heard a first-hand story of the troops arriving here in Utrecht, and since I live so close to where they entered, it becomes more real to me.

  2. It’s amazing to see how much of the street still looks the same. Even more amazing when you think about the amount people who walk through there now and probably have no idea that scene took place there.

    • That street is full of history. The buildings on the right were part of Louis Napoleon’s palace that stood on this street. They now make up part of the Utrecht University library.

  3. Wonderful to see those photos and the footage. That must have been such an amazing and joyous day. I can’t imagine what those people must have felt when the allied troops rolled into the city. Thanks for sharing!

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