Cycle route War memories of Amersfoort
Hoogland, Amersfoort, Soest
Between the heathland and woods of Soesterberg lies Soesterberg Airbase, one of the most iconic sights of this cycle route around Amersfoort. In 1910, two car dealers from The Hague set up a moor near Soesterberg as an airfield. The site was 300 hectares in size and was mainly intended for flight demonstrations and for making aircraft. The company went bankrupt in 1913. After the bankruptcy, the Chief of the General Staff designated the terrain as a new location for an aviation department. This was a strategic move, as it became an important base during various wars.
During the Second World War, the airbase was bombed by the Luftwaffe in 1940. Afterwards, the German army rebuilt the airfield into a large complex with several runways and took it into use themselves. Today, you can still find many traces of this era. Soesterberg also played an important role during the Cold War (1953-1994). Nowadays, the airport is no longer used as such and a National Military Museum is located there. You can cycle over the runways, which gives a surrealistic feeling. But beware: do not leave the marked paths, because there may still be bombs under the ground.
When you cycle further through the woods towards Amersfoort, you will pass National Monument Kamp Amersfoort. In this camp, a total of 47,000 people were imprisoned during the Second World War. Jews, resistance fighters, Jehovah's witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war, but also American citizens were forced to work under miserable conditions. A visit to this museum is impressive and makes you stop for a moment.
Between Junctions 82 and 87, you cycle along the Grebbelinie dike. Many bunkers and casemates from the Second World War can still be found along this dike. But there is also a special monument from the First World War: the largest in the Netherlands in terms of surface area. As thanks for the help offered by the Netherlands to the Belgian war refugees and the Belgian soldiers and their families interned in the Netherlands, the Belgian army donated the Belgenmonument. You will find the monument at the Amersfoortse Berg.
A cycle route that takes you past impressive points and reminds you that freedom is not something you can take for granted.
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