Monday, March 17, 2008
The Doorway to Deutschland
American troops, probably of the 9th Armored Division, and possibly including my late uncle Bill, exit the tunnel leading to the Ludendorff Railway Bridge over the Rhine at Remagen, Germany. Since the bridge only lasted ten days between capture and collapse, we can date this photo between March 7 and March 17, 1945.
The Germans blew up the bridge but the dynamite used was inferior or at least a different strength than the engineers expected and the bridge bucked up a few feet and then settled right back down on its supports. It was, however, seriously damaged in the explosion. The second attempt to blow it up was thwarted by Silesian conscripts who cut the fuses.
The tales of heavy fighting to take the bridge are largely exagerations. The bridge fell with hardly a fight and few casualties, although 28 Americans were killed when it collapsed.