East of the village Rhenen lies the last resting place for more than 400 Dutch soldiers
who died during the fights on hill Grebbeberg in May 1940. They are buried in the
same soil which they defended when the German army attacked The Netherlands during
the days of May 1940. After the battle and the Dutch surrender, both the German and
the Dutch victims of the battle were buried here on hill Grebbeberg.
Hill Grebbeberg was part of The Grebbe Line (Dutch: Grebbelinie) and was a forward
defence line of the Dutch Water Line, based on inundation. The Grebbe Line ran from
hill Grebbeberg in Rhenen northwards until the IJsselmeer and was designed in 1745
as a defensive line to protect the Netherlands from invading armies. In February
1940 the Dutch chief commander General Henri Winkelman decided to make the Grebbe
line the main defensive line in the central sector of the Dutch defenses.
When the Germans attacked in May 1940, the Dutch army managed to defend the Grebbe
line for three consecutive days, much to the surprise of the Germans. The Battle
of the Grebbeberg saw the fiercest fighting in those few days, during which 420 Dutch
and around 250 German soldiers were killed. Directly after the hostilities stopped
a war cemetery was established by the German authorities at the Grebbeberg location.
The cemetery on the Grebbeberg hill became the first war cemetery of the Netherlands.
After the war ended in 1945 the German soldiers were relocated to the cemetery for
German war casualties in Ysselsteyn (Limburg). Dutch soldiers who died elsewhere
during the German attack on the Netherlands and were buried in family graves were
and still are sometimes relocated to The Dutch War Cemetery on the Grebbeberg. Nowadays
there are more than 800 graves on this cemetery.
After the liberation of The Netherlands arrangements were made to use the cemetery
as a location for the national remembrance. There for the foundation: National Army
Memorial Grebbeberg was founded in 1946. In 1952 the ministry of war transferred
the care for the military cemetery to the Dutch war grave commission. By its care
the cemetery is kept maintained and the memory to the battle for our freedom, which
took place in this area, is kept alive.
On this war cemetery are also a number of memorials for the infantry regiments which
had been quartered in on or at the Grebbeberg during May 1940. A memorial stands
central to remember 138 Dutch soldiers who died during the May days and are still
missing in action.