The heat continues and it seems that Europe is slowly baking to a crisp. I have always thought that once we are over 30c, anything is hot, but 40c is just crazy and I am pleased to have avoided the record 45c in France. Even if it is psychological, there is always something cooling about being in, around or near water when searing temperatures make even moving unbearable. So, the other day we got the tram into Bonn and took a short cruise on the River Rhine.
We were heading upstream, and despite the temperature, there was a slight breeze which moved the air just enough to make it tolerable.
Looking back towards Bonn.
The River Rhine is a huge river, a major highway for trade and tourism, but we were just going for 2hrs, past Königswinter and onto Remagen.
Coming into Königswinter
The 19th century Drachenburg Castle (L) and Drachenfels (R) with ruins of 12th century castle.
In Remagen we met up with Gerhard’s uncle, a wonderful character of 80 yrs with a wicked humour. After a very cheap and substantial Italian lunch, Hartmut and I took a short (shaded) stroll to visit the site of the Ludendorff Bridge often referred to as the Bridge at Remagen.
Securing the Ludendorff Bridge, undamaged, was a crucial strategic victory for the Allies in 1945. It allowed thousands of troops and vehicles to cross the vast River Rhine, and thus turn their eyes towards Berlin. Thousands of Allied troops crossed the bridge immediately after its seizure. Allied area bombing had damaged some Rhine crossings to the north, while the German Wehrmacht destroyed others in controlled explosions to slow down its adversaries.
On 7 March 1945 an advance unit of the 9th US Armored Division, led by LT Karl H. Timmermann, an American of German descent, reached the last intact bridge, just after the German defenders twice failed in their demolition attempts. The capture of the bridge is known in the annals of the war as the “Miracle of Remagen”. General Eisenhower stated that “the bridge is worth its weight in gold”. In the days immediately following, the German High Command made desperate attempts to destroy the bridge by bombing and even employing frogmen. Hitler irately convened a court-martial which condemned five officers to death, four of whom were actually executed in the Westerwald Forest. On 17 March 1945 the bridge collapsed. At least 30 American soldiers lost their lives.
Today the remaining towers in Remagen are a Peace museum.
After ice-cream (yummmm) and more water we took the train and tram back to Bonn and finally collapsed in the cool of the appartment.