The history of Arnhem

The name Arnhem comes from Arneym. The first time Arneym is mentioned goes back to 893 A.D.  In Germanic Arnu means Eagle and Heem means Home. Arnhem= Home of the Eagle.

The coat of arms from the city of Arnhem shows two eagles:

The flag of Arnhem has two eagles:

Also the football team (Vitesse) has two eagles in their logo. 

Historic Arnhem

The earliest prehistoric housing in Arnhem dates back to the Bronze Age, around 1500 B.C.

Around 40 A.D. the Romans built a fortress on the south bank of the river Rhine. They left the fortress around 260 A.D. In 359 A.D. the Romans came back. They leftArnhemin 400 A.D. and they never returned. round the 9th century there is a little church and some farmhouses. 

In 1189 count Otto returns from the Crusades and he gives a part of his land to the knights ofSt.Jan, Knights Hospital of Jerusalem. Names like Jansplaats and Jansplein commemorate the places where the headquarters and the church from this religious order stood.

On the 13th of July 1233 count Otto II bestowedArnhem with municipal rights. The Sabelspoort, built around 1357, is the only remaining town gate from the Middle Ages.

Sabelspoort in 1945:

Sabelspoort around 1960:

Scenic Arnhem


The column is a piece of the former Palace of Justice, which was completely destroyed during the Battle of Arnhem:


The momument was revealed on the 17th of September 1945, one year after the Battle of Arnhem, by mr. Schelto baron van Heemstra (uncle of Audrey Hepburn) and en general-major Robert E. Urquhart,commander of the British 1st Airborne Division.

Every year on the 17th of September there is a commemoration held, to remember the Battle of Arnhem.

John Frost-bridge:

John Dutton Frost:

November 1944:

In September 1944 the Allies launched Operation Market Garden. The road bridge across theLower Rhineshould have been the final objective of the operation, and its capture was tasked to the British 1st Airborne Division. Unexpected German resistance inArnhemmeant that only a small force of some 740 men were able to reach the northern end of the bridge, commanded by Lt-Colonel John Frost. On the night of the 17 September the British attempted to take the southern end of the bridge, using a flame thrower to destroy German positions in the bridge’s towers. This accidentally ignited an ammunition store and the fresh paint on the bridge caught fire, illuminating the area for most of the night and forcing the British to abandon their attempt.

The superior German forces in Arnhem eventually overwhelmed Frost’s men, although this took several days. They had however succeeded in closing the bridge to German armour for some four days, twice as long as a whole division was expected to hold the bridge. The rest of the division held out at nearby Oosterbeek until 25 September before being evacuated across the river.

Although the bridge survived the battle, it was bombed and destroyed by B-26 Marauders of the 344th Bomb Group on 7 October 1944 to prevent the Germans from using it to send reinforcements south of the river.

Jacob Groenewoud-plantsoen:

Jacob Groenewoud was part of the Jedburgh team ‘CLAUDE’ that was present at the battle of Arnhem. The team had several objectives, contacting the Dutch resistance, gain information of enemy positions and forces and capture all Germans and pro-Nazis in the area. Groenewoud landed by parachute on the landingzone near Heelsum and Wolfheze. He arrived at the bridge and attended the meeting between Colonel Frost and Major Hibbert on September 18th. When the point of how to get in contact with the main force of the division was dicussed, Groenewoud volunteered. After Hibbert had informed him of his task, Groenewoud went westward to Oosterbeek. After having covered about 200 meters Groenewoud ran straight into a German machine gun post and was killed instantly by the first burst of fire. In this little park named after this Dutch officer you can find photos and an explanation of the battle at the bridge.

Text on the monument:

Jacob Groenewoud, captain in reserve of the infantry, born in 1916, died on 18 September 1944, as the only Dutch officer in the battle for the bridge over the Rhine. Awarded the Military Order of William posthumously.



Built around 1538. The style is Renaissance.

 A satyr is a figure from Greek mythology. It a cheerful but naughty creature from the forest with the tail and ears of a goat and the body of a man.

This house has several satyrs:

A satyr is sometimes seen as a devil, and this is how the house got his name. (Duivelshuis = Devils House)

Eusebius Church

Built from 1452. The style is Lower-Rhine Gothic.

The Eusebius church was completely destroyed during the Battle of Arnhem.


On the 17th of September each year the Citizens’ Bell (Burgerklok) in the Lauwersgracht is rung.

The bell was prestented to the city council by a committee consisting of people selected from the citizenry in September 1956. This was done as a token of appreciation for everything the council did for the city and its inhabitants after the liberation.

Lauwersgracht originated from the old moat surrounding the city during medieval times.

Musis Sacrum

Built in 1847, the style is Neo-Renaissance. During the war it was a German Wehrmachtheim.

The monument at Musis Sacrum is to remember the resistance in Arnhem during World War II.

It says: Most people are silent, an individual states a case.

Corner Jansbuitensingel – Apeldoornsestraat

This monument is to remember the evacuation of people from Arnhem during and after the Battle of Arnhem.

On the 24th of September 1944 the Germans ordered all 95.000 inhabitants of Arnhem to evacuate. They would not return until after the liberation of the city, which was on the 16th of April 1945.



From October 1944 until April 1945 Arnhem was a ghost-town. The Germans took advantage and plundered all the houses in the city.

After the war there was a stocktaking of the damage done in the city. Of all the houses in the city, only 145 were undamaged.


Houses number 7, 8 and 9 at Velperplein were a bastion of underground resistance. The assault group members Toon and Dirk van Daalen operated from the building of the radioshop Van Daalen Bros at number 8.

Electrician Johan Penseel’s shop was located at number 7. Penseel and the Van Daalen brothers were all-round spies and saboteurs.

Their buildings were connected by a secret passage and contained a clandestine telephone exchange, armoury and room to hide people. A true operational base for the resistance.

There was also an escape passage to number 9, where a branch of the Netherlands Bank (Nederlandse Bank) was established.

Velperplein at the start of the 20th century:

Jansbinnensingel 8a

From 1939 until 1944 there lived a little girl Audrey Hepburn in this house, who would grow up to be a very famous movie star.

Audrey Hepburn‘s parents divorced in 1935 when her father, a Nazi sympathizer, left the family.  

Moving to their grandfather’s home in Arnhem in 1939, her mother relocated her in the belief that the Netherlands would protect them from German attack. After the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, Audrey adopted the pseudonym Edda van Heemstra, a derivative of her mother’s name Ella, modifying her mother’s documents because an “English sounding” name was considered dangerous during the German occupation.

By 1944, Audrey had become a proficient ballerina. She had secretly danced for groups of people to collect money for the Dutch resistance. Living conditions grew worse and Arnhem was subsequently devastated by Allied artillery fire under Operation Market Garden.

When the country was liberated, United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration trucks followed. Audrey said in an interview that she fell ill from putting too much sugar in her oatmeal and eating an entire can of condensed milk. Audrey’s war-time experiences sparked her devotion to UNICEF in her later career.

Buildings on Willemsplein


Built in 1930. During the war occupied by a Luftwaffe Kommando.

Vesta-building around 1950:


Built around 1883. The style is Neo-Classicism. This picture was taken around 1905.

The liberators of Arnhem:

The Polar Bears, part of the 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division:

AKU fountain:


Willemsplein around 1955:

Zijpendaalseweg 2:

Built in 1905. The style is Jugendstil/Art Nouveau. This building and the Vesta-building have the same architect, Willem Diehl.

White Villa Sonsbeek:

Built in 1742. The style is Classicism.

Public transportation in Arnhem

Trolley-bus 101, the first trolley-bus:

On the 5th of September 1949 the first trolley-bus line was opened, between Arnhem and Velp:

Arnhem is the only city in the Netherlands with trolley-buses.

Olympic Arnhem

The VI Paralympic Games were held in Arnhem. The opening ceremony was on the 21st of June 1980.

The games were officially opened by Princess Margriet.

Participants came from 42 countries with a total of 2500 athletes. Ethiopia had the smallest delegation with 1 athlete.

Usually the city that organizes the Olympic Games also hosts the Paralympic Games, but Moscow was not interested in handicap sports. That is the reason that Arnhem hosted the Paralympic Games in 1980. 

Esther Schutijser

7th of June 2011

Source: Arnhem War museum 1940-1945 (Arnhems Oorlogsmuseum 1940-1945) in Schaarsbergen

1 Comment

  1. Вопрос:
    Cпасибо. Прочитал с интересом. Почему всё-таки символ Арнема двуглавый орёл? В России – символ Европы-Азии. А в Арнеме?

    Я прочитала в Интернете, что избражение орлов на городских гербах Голландии связано с Римской империей. Орлы считались имперскими символами. На гербах ещё двух голландских городов (Гронингена и Наймегена) можно найти изображение двуглавых орлов. Как известно, Наймеген (это 25 км от Арнема) был основан римскими легионерами более 2 000 лет назад, по сути Голландия была в то время северной окраиной Римской империи. Римляне дошли до этих земель и начали строить города и дороги в этой части Европы, но дальше Наймегена и Утрехта они не пошли, так как дальше простирались одни болота.

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