In March 1945 the Ludendorff bridge across the Rhine in West Germany was the scene of bitter fighting between United States and German forces.
In March 1945 the Ludendorff bridge across the Rhine in West Germany was the scene of bitter fighting between United States and German forces. But, 33 years later, the remains of the bridge provided a backdrop for a reunion of these former enemies. They were commemorating the historic battle in which the Americans crossed this bridge at Remagen, and established a vital bridgehead on the east bank of the Rhine.
SYNOPSIS: Today these two stone towers and a bit of rubble are all that remains of the bridge. But they must be reminder enough to the men who fought in the battle. Veteran American and German soldiers, including German General Karl Otto Von Hulsten, were among those at Tuesday's ceremony.
In 1945 the bridge at Remagen was the only crossing of the Rhine that remained intact. Hitler had ordered it destroyed, but despite heavy attacks by his forces the bring held. The Americans were able to sand men and equipment across to establish General Eisenhower's vital bridgehead on the east bank. It was the beginning of the end for Germany and beginning of a quicker and for the bridge. It collapsed under the strain of use by the allied forces, adding more victims to the battle toll.
Many men died in the battle at Remagen, but for those who survived these events must remain vivid memories.
At Tuesday's ceremony veteran soldiers who had been enemies at Remagen came together for the first time during a wreath-laying ceremony. At a later social gathering they met and exchanged stories of their experiences in the battle. Now the Remagen town council is hoping to establish a museum in the remaining bridge towers. It commissioned a plaque commemorating the battle and Mayor, Hans-Pieter Kurten, hopes to sell stones from the bridge as souvenirs to fund the planned museum.
He presented some as gifts to veterans at the ceremony, but later hopes they'll fetch twenty dollars apiece. General Eisenhower once said the bridge was "worth its weight in gold". Mayor Kurten hopes he was right.