March 7th was the 70th anniversary of the capture of the Ludendorff Bridge crossing the Rhine River at Remagen. Hitler had ordered all the bridges across the Rhine to be demolished to stop the American advance into Germany. The U.S. Army 9th Infantry Division managed to capture the bridge while the German Army was attempting to blow it up.

Ludendorff Bridge, 1945. Photo: National Archives.

General Omar Bradley said the bridge was worth its weight in gold as the American Army poured personal and equipment across the Rhine. In fact, so much tonnage crossed the bridge the overuse caused its collapse ten days later.  Twenty-eight were killed during the collapse which is described by Army Engineer John Morgado below.

The Third Reich would end exactly two months after the capture of the bridge.

Remagen Bridge Today
Ludendorff Bridge, 2011. Photo: Gregory Pijanowski

The bridge itself was never rebuilt.  However, the remaining bridge towers are now home to the Remagen Peace Museum. I highly recommend a visit if you find yourself in that region of Germany. Remagen is now a peaceful river town and it is difficult to image all the violence that took place there seventy years ago. However, sitting on a bench on the riverside by the bridge allows one to quietly reflect on the events there that helped end one of the most hideous chapters in human history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *