Under the direction of the Red Cross, the museum becomes an emergency shelter for the evacuees from the civilian hospitals in Arnhem. Auping tries to ease the situation as much as possible and also uses the collection for this purpose. His guided tours offer a ray of hope for many.
Evacuation of Arnhem
On 10 and 17 September 1944, the Allies carry out heavy bombardment of Deelen airfield, near the museum. It is the start of Operation Market Garden, the airdrop of thousands of troops in the vicinity of Arnhem, ‘the first rays’ of hope, as Auping writes later. ‘But alas, how different the battle transpired than we hoped for and expected’.
Annual report 1944-45, compiled by Willy Auping jr.
In the early morning of 24 September, Auping receives an unexpected visit from E. van der Voort Maarschalk, a representative of the Red Cross. The German army had won the battle for Arnhem and all the residents were forced to leave the city within two days. Van der Voort Maarschalk asks Auping’s permission to install an emergency hospital in the museum for the patients of the civilian hospitals in Arnhem. The first sick and wounded arrive before 11 am. They have travelled 20 kilometres on foot or by horse and cart through the wind and rain.
The museum provides accommodation for 310 adults and 40 children. The patients are housed in the display rooms, where the collection was shown previously. St Hubertus hunting lodge is the nurse’s accommodation and De Pampel Farm serves as the doctors’ house. The service building is used as a maternity ward and storeroom. The hospital is extended with a sawmill, latrines and a cemetery. But there is also time for recreation. On Boxing Day, the 19-year-old violinist Herman Krebbers, who is in hiding in the hospital with about thirty young men, gives a concert and in April 1945, Easter is celebrated on the children’s ward.
Nurses of the Red Cross at lunch in the library of Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller