Great perspective to focus on freedom instead on WWII only
A lot of original exhibits
Air-raid shelter simulation
A very interesting rebranding: when I started to explore museums in the nearby Netherlands, the Dutch Freedom Museum in Groesbeek has still been called Bevrijdingsmuseum – Liberation museum. With its 2019 rebranding to Vrijheidsmuseum, it is putting a stronger focus on the importance of freedom. One more reason to visit the place and share my thoughts with you.
Dutch Freedom Museum – Location & Admission
The Freedom Museum is located in the North of Groesbeek, a city not too far away from Nijmegen. The easiest way to get there is by car – the museum also offers a sufficient number of free parking lots. However, public transport (buses) are possible as well.
The museum is opening daily from 10:00 to 17:00 hrs. On Sundays, the doors open at noon. Adult admission to the museum is 15 Euro. The museum does accept the Dutch Museumkaart, though.
Dutch Freedom Museum – The Visit
The whole documentation of the museum is in Dutch, German (due to the close proximity of the border to Germany) and English. Your visit is split into different sections, in which the museum illustrates the topic with quite an impressive number of exhibits – very often original ones. World War II is the main topic of the museum, which still shows the character of a Liberation Museum. You see and feel the rebranding at multiple stages. One of them is right at the beginning of your visit: You starts with a movie about the importance and meaning of freedom, before you head into the museum. The staff was very attentive and had information in all three languages.
The museum is focused on the German occupation, especially in the first section. The Dictatorship of the Nazis is one of the key topics – there are even some original exhibits like a huge flag which was originally fixed at a monastery in Nijmegen. You also learn how the Nazis tried to separate the Jews and what the occupation and the war meant for the people in the Netherlands and in Germany.
One of the most impressive parts of visiting the museum was experiencing a (too short) air raid in an air raid shelter. Especially in this part of the museum, the Freedom Museum is not only looking on what happened to the Dutch people, but also to the Germans on the other side of the River Rhine, e.g. in the city of Kleve. In this part of the museum, they do an excellent job illustrating the Operation Market Garden – one of the key military operations which finally lead to the defeat of Germany.
How War Changes Life
What I really liked about the museum is how war changes the life of people. In the second picture below, you for example see a not too uncommon wedding dress at that time. The material of the bride’s dress was made of the cloth of a parachute. The exhibition is also about death, rebuilding destroyed cities – and then, later, fighting for peace nowadays. I liked the idea that people could simply write down what freedom means to them and how much it is worth to fight for it.
Dutch Freedom Museum – Services
Close to the reception area, there is a museum cafe, which just had a couple of tables due to social distancing measures.
There is also a small souvenir shop area. They are not only selling books and videos, but also some models and building brick sets there.
Dutch Freedom Museum – My View
I feel talking too much about World War II and what happened over 70 years ago should still be present in your minds. Nonetheless, I feel that the approach the Dutch Freedom Museum is taking is very valuable. They try to connect what happened during WWII with our nowadays life. A tough task – but I feel they did a great job. Bad luck that this place is not too well-known. It is absolutely worth a visit!