The Liberation of Utrecht in 1945

I posted Monday about Bevrijdingsdag, the liberation of the Netherlands at the end of World War II, but also mentioned that the allied forces didn’t arrive in Utrecht until 7 May. Today marks that anniversary, so I thought I’d share a few of the photos from the Utrecht Archives showing the anticipation and arrival of the troops.

They came through Biltstraat in order to enter the old city center at the Wittevrouwenbrug. They followed that street, which becomes Voorstraat, before eventually making their way through the rest of the city. People lined the streets in masses to celebrate their arrival. The photos I’ve chosen start with people waiting for the forces on Biltstraat and then follow them down Wittevrouwenstraat and Voorstraat.Waiting on BiltstraatAllies on WittevrouwenstraatAllied Forces on VoorstraatAmong the allied forces that played a part in the liberation of Utrecht was the CanadianEnglish 49th Reconnaissance Regiment, known as the Polar Bears. (See comment below.) They’re seen marching along Janskerkhof. There’s now a Polar Bear monument dedicated to the regiment at a spot on Biltstraat. There will be a memorial service held there this evening.Canadian Polar Bear regiment at JanskerkhofFinally, a charming photo of a couple dancing in celebration in Framboosstraat.Liberation celebration in Framboosstraat
All photos via Het Utrechts Archief.

Time Travel: Utrecht’s Liberation

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.

(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.

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.