The Second World War is becoming more and more distant for most people. In the digital age, wars seem to be waged mainly online by hackers who shut down networks or steal information from behind their screens. For most of us, it is inconceivable that on a Tuesday afternoon German bombers suddenly appear above the city. It happened on 14 May 1940, and within fifteen minutes a large part of Rotterdam-Centre, Rotterdam-North and also Kralingen is flat. The fires that followed were difficult to fight because of the strong wind. On 16 May, two days later, the most significant fires were extinguished. In an area of more than two hundred and fifty hectares, houses, shops, factories, churches, streets and much more are destroyed. There are many dead and missing, and more than eighty thousand people are homeless.
Museum Rotterdam ’40 – ’45 NOW
The bombardments on 14 May were the first and also the heaviest. Unfortunately, there were many more attacks on Rotterdam. There were dozens of attacks on the centre of Rotterdam. In the outlying areas, there were also dozens of more assaults on shipyards and oil refineries. At the end of March 1943, a massive bomb attack took place, carried out by American bombers. Although the actual target was industrial and port areas, a district in Delfshaven was severely hit, and sixteen thousand people became homeless. Perhaps because it was a mistake of the Americans, little attention is paid to this tragedy. After many years, in 1993, a monument was unveiled in Park 1943 at the Gijsinglaan, The Forgotten Bombardment.
In the Museum Rotterdam ’40 – ’45 NOW they try to convey the bombardment of 14 May 1940 to the visitors. On film footage, you can see the fear in people, burning buildings and the ruins when the bombings are over. The impression this makes is different for each person; the history of Rotterdam is told to be more aware of the life of today. In the museum, you can see many objects from wartime; weapons, uniforms, photographs, but also stories about the reconstruction of the city. If you want to know more about the history of Rotterdam during the Second World War, there is plenty to see in this museum.
What are you going to do after your visit to Museum Rotterdam ’40 – ’45 NOW?
The museum at the Coolhaven is not very big, and if you want to have a look, you can quickly get through it. If you want to know the stories of the war years in Rotterdam, you can spend much time here. Metro station Coolhaven stops right in front of the museum so after your visit you can easily take line A, B or C to the next destination. A walk along the Coolhaven via the Rochussenstraat is also worthwhile. A five-minute walk will take you to the Pilgrim’s Church, a building dating from 1417. At the end of the street Voorhaven, there is a beautiful old windmill. And in the same street is also the Dutch Pinball Museum.