Talk:Ludendorff Bridge

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Polish conscripts[edit]

This assertion is only backed by a link to a subscription-only Polish language archive site. Other sources offer other theories. Can someone who reads Polish check it out?LeadSongDog (talk) 23:19, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

Gazeta Wyborcza is a respected Polish newspaper. The author of the article is Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, check the article on him and validate whether he's respectable or not yourself :)
As to the text, below is the relevant part and a (rough, sorry) translation.
(Polish) Nieoczekiwane sforsowanie obrony na Renie stało się możliwe dzięki temu, że jeden z mostów na rzece w Ramagen nie wyleciał w powietrze. Sierżant Drabik, Polak z Ohio, zdecydował się błyskawicznie przejść na czele swego oddziału pod ogniem nieprzyjaciela na drugą stronę. Za nim poszli inni.
Ale nie w tym pointa. Dochodzenie po zakończeniu operacji doprowadziło do odkrycia, że most ocalał dzięki sabotażowi. Dwa kable łączące ładunek wybuchowy z zapalnikiem zostały przecięte, ocalał tylko trzeci, dzięki czemu wybuch nie zdołał zniszczyć mostu. Przesłuchiwanie jeńców pozwoliło ustalić, że sprawcami sabotażu byli dwaj saperzy, Polacy ze Śląska, przymusowo wcieleni do Wehrmachtu. Kiedy zapytano ich, czym się kierowali, odpowiedzieli krótko: "My jesteśmy Polakami".
(English) Unexpected breakthrough the defences along the Rhine was possible because one of the bridges across the river survived thanks to sabotage. Sargeant Drabik, a Polish American from Ohio, decided to cross it under fire with his unit. Others soon followed.
But that's not yet my point. After the end of the operation an investigation proved that the bridge survived thanks to sabotage. Two wires linking the explosives with a detonator had been cut, only the third survived, which prevented (the Germans) from blowing the bridge up. Questioning the prisoners of war revealed that the responsible for the sabotage were two sappers (military engineers), Poles from Silesia, forcibly conscripted into the Wehrmacht. When asked what made them do it, they replied shortly: "We're Poles".
//Halibutt 09:32, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
Why is it, that this information only turns up in the English version about the history of the bridge. While the German version ist only telling that the prefabricated pioneer explosives of 600 kg had been replaced by inferior industrial explosives of 300 kg. The Bridge has been under attack by alled forces prior the taking of the bridge and by german forces after the bridge was taken. Eye witnesses reported to have seen the bridge having jumped during the explosion. But it returned to normal as the explosives had been insufficient. Afterwards the wear and tear of the crossing by lots of tanks and the constant vibrations brought the damaged bridge down. This is about this story as it is told on the German wikipedia. I don't dispute the recordings of Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, but I am not so sure about his sources. And if I'm right the date of 1993 is about 40 years after the story happened. Why did it not turn up before? Why is this story not part in the German wikipedia? And why is this story unknwon to the people of Remagen. I know some citizens of that town of that time. Never have I heard anything about it. There should be more sources on that. I just don't know, how this could be done. I'm not good enough on wikipedia methods to do it. --84.175.70.198 (talk) 12:29, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

The story was published in 1993 because on October 2 that year Sergeant Drabik, whose parents had emigrated from Poland to the US, died in a car crash, aged 82. He was the first man to cross the bridge at Remagen on that fateful March 7, 1945.--Ruggero1 (talk) 23:06, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

The article of the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza which forms the basis of this (mis-)conception of why the bridge was not completely blown up is the only report of the two Poles having cut the fuses, and it was first published in 1993! There are no documents of the Wehrmacht showing that Silesian Poles ever belonged to a unit stationed around the bridge at Remagen! If you read the headline of the article in the Gazeta (Small state and a gerat victory) you realize what the aim of the article was. And have a look at the lemma of Gazeta Wyborcza as well, so you know what kind of paper it is - certainly not a respectable one! In addition to that have a look at this article: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1144&dat=19450313&id=QDwbAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Ck0EAAAAIBAJ&pg=2898,1475749 - so who is to be praised? :-)) Ruggero1 (talk) 11:21, June 8 2010 —Preceding undated comment added 09:24, 8 June 2010 (UTC).

The Bridge at Remagen discusses several claims of sabotage prior to 1957 which sound similar to both of these - one by a disaffected German (Karl Hennige), and the other by an unnamed Polish saboteur from a crew of Polish & Russian laborers (recounted by one Stanislaus Sevinski). According to this book, both Captain Bratge and Captain Friesenhahn (in charge of the demolition) strongly deny the accounts of sabotage on the grounds that:
  1. The circuit was tested at 3:12 P.M. (minutes before detonation) and found it to be working after the cable was allegedly cut.
  2. The cables were surrounded by metal pipe, and could not have been easily severed by hand.
  3. The cables were well guarded and couldn't have been sabotaged while the guards were watching.
  4. The wire to the charge was outside of the tunnel, not inside the tunnel, as claimed by the alleged saboteurs.
  5. The saboteurs claims cannot be further verified.

Freisenhahn instead claims that he saw evidence that the pipe had been shattered by tank-fire during the bombardment of the bridge, but this would have had to occur in the 3 minutes between testing and detonation, which seems unlikely and can't be verified either. Hechler speculates that the Germans might prefer Freisenhahn's account because the idea of sabotage is distasteful. In any case nobody can know for sure. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.105.185.51 (talk) 09:02, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

Bombardment following capture[edit]

My understanding is a frogman attack was attempted by Germany also. Jokem (talk) 21:17, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

There have been lots of attacks before the capture. First by allied forces in order to prevent the Germans to use an easy escape route. After this escape was accomplished by the Germans, the Germans tried to destroy th bridge in order to prevent its use by allied forces. This included an attempt to blow it up. My own grandmother has seen this attempt. She explained to our family, that the bridge jumped and that there was smoke. After the smoke cleared the bridge was still standing. Seemingly undamaged by the explosion. After the capture the Germans tried to continue destroying the bridge. At the same time this was getting more and more useless as the Allies had already build several ponton bridges close to the bridge. The tanks were moving across the bridge and nobody can tell me, that a damaged bridge would stand endless use be tanks without any signs of wear and tear. Anyway I have no sources available to support this information beyond any doubt. -- 84.175.78.223 (talk) 16:41, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
According to 'The Bridge at Remagen' the German navy did attempt to destroy the bridge with 6 members of a specialist 'frogman' unit from Vienna headed by Lieutenant Schreiber. They flew to Frankfurt and drove 10 miles upstream of Remagen to take advantage of the current, but the operation was delayed by road conditions, American advances and artillery fire. They received the order on March 11th and arrived on March 16th, but didn't deploy until 7:15 PM on March 17 after the bridge had already collapsed. They attempted to destroy the pontoon bridges instead, but were spotted by searchlights and fired at, and subsequently captured. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.105.185.51 (talk) 07:57, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

Wear and Tear speculation[edit]

This seems to be the opinion of most citizens of Remagen. I have spoken to many of those citizens during that time and it seems to be some kind of common knowledge. But I heard nothing concerning the rumour that the V-2 could have started it. In Remagen another common knowledge has it, that every V-2 shot at the bridge missed it and thus cannot be made responsible for further damage or the collapse of the bridge. My own granmother was a eye-witness to the collapse. She said that there has been no special reason for it. For example: no explosion before the collapse. I tend to believe her, but I don't know how to wrap it up in a solid citation along wiki-rules. --84.175.94.27 (talk) 13:18, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

Ken Hechler's "The Bridge at Remagen" seem to be a pretty good authority. Chapter 19 addresses this "wear and tear" idea. The main theory proposed by the one of the lead engineers, is that the partial detonation seriously damaged the bridge, blew out the upstream truss and put the remainder of the burden on the downstream truss which was not designed to support the entire structure. The author suggests that the constant traffic, the Allied and Luftwaffe bombings, the concussions from nearby artillery fire and shells (including vibrations from Allied AA-Guns, Howitzers and the V2 rockets x11), the extra weight from repair equipment and strain from the repair efforts themselves eventually finished the job. It also confirms what your grandmother says: No V-2 rockets hit the bridge, and there were no explosions before the collapse (the last rocket impact having occurred several hours earlier that morning, and more than 300 yards away.) --76.105.185.51 (talk) 09:38, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Speculation is just that. To my knowledge, no engineering analysis was done on the bridge, hence any discussion is pure speculation, aka OR. From a combat engineering perspective, it's highly probable that it was cumulative damage, from the initial attempt to blow the structure, combat damage during and after that attempt, massive use of the bridge, and further bombardment. Any way that you slice it though, it's pure and simple speculation that could as easily be proclaimed an act of a deity or an act of flatulence. It's irrelevant, as there was massive damage, massive use and abuse and final collapse. If anything, it's notable for NOT collapsing far earlier.Wzrd1 (talk) 05:32, 16 September 2012 (UTC)
Wzrd1, you have some sort of a nasty attitude towards the simple use of common sense with your rude comments about "pure speculation". You obviously have no idea that they readers of the Wikipedia include civil engineers, mechanical engineers, military enginers, physicists, metallurgists, aerospace engineers, industrial engineers, and so forth who know far more about these things than you know about ANYTHING. So, bull***t on you and your rude comments about speculation and so forth. Shame on you.
98.67.175.254 (talk) 07:05, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

History - Pre World War II[edit]

I have a little problem with this paragraph:

It was a key element of a planned strategic railway that was to start in Neuss, cross the Rhine at Remagen and connect with the Ahr Valley railway that connected with the Eiffel railway that has lines into Luxembourg and France. The advantage of such a line was that troops and supplies could be transported to the Western Front from the Ruhr industrial area without having to go through the busy rail centres of Cologne or Düsseldorf. However, by the time World War I ended, the line between Neuss and Remagen had not been completed and never was. This is also the reason why the bridge at Remagen was not rebuilt after World War II.

Some things got mixed up here. The Ludendorff Bridge and the strategic railway starting in Neuss had nothing to do with each other (except for the reason they were both built - military transport), they were two seperate projects.

1. The Remagen bridge

Before the Remagen bridge was built, trains from the Ruhr area (or any other region of Germany for that matter) could only use the Left Rhine railway in order to reach the Ahr Valley railway. The Remagen bridge changed this situation by providing access to the Ahr Valley railway from the Right Rhine railway also, thus relieving pressure from the left side line and giving the German Army more options on how to organize their transport routes. It was solely built for military purposes. But as you can see by taking a look at a map, trains using the Right Rhine railway still had to pass through Cologne. They were now, however, no longer obligated to cross the Rhine there.

2. The strategic railway

This was an additional project. In order to prevent trains from passing through the busy Cologne rail centre (a problem which was not adressed by the construction of the Remagen bridge, nor was this ever its purpose), a strategic railway line was planned that would start at Neuss, bypass Cologne to the west and then run straight to the Ahr Valley railway. So far, the above paragraph is correct. This line however, had nothing to do with the Remagen bridge, as it never needed to cross the Rhine - both Neuss and the Ahr Valley are located on the left side of the river. The text is then correct again in so far as that this railway line was never completed (and never got a name, in Germany it is just known as the "Strategischer Bahndamm" - strategic railroad embankment). Parts of it were finished and even saw some passenger service until the 1950s, others were overbuilt with an Autobahn alignment and the tunnels that had to be constructed in order to reach the Ahr Valley were used as nuclear shelters for Germany's government during the Cold War.

The reason why the bridge at Remagen was never rebuilt had nothing to do with the unfinished strategic railway - there simply was no need for a reconstruction because it had only served military purposes and these were no longer existant after World War II.

I hope I could clear the situation up a little bit. 188.103.142.154 (talk) 05:38, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

I support this contribution. There is no crossing of the Rhine necessary for a train from Neuss on the left side of the Rhine. Anything connecting that Neuss-line with the bridge is simply wrong. Delete it.--84.175.93.177 (talk) 20:10, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

Some missing citations[edit]

"The collapse was not caused by a direct hit from a V-2, as the nearest 'strike' was 270 metres (300 yd) away. However, the bridge had been weakened by the earlier bombing attacks. Some[who?] speculate that the wear and tear of weeks of bombardment, combined with the vibrations produced when a V-2 slammed into the earth at 4,800 kilometres per hour (3,000 mph), was enough to cause the collapse of the bridge.[citation needed]"

I can't confirm the specific impact of the V-2, however the general outline can be corroborated:

"... it is a fact that eleven rounds of this extremely powerful explosive fell in the Remagen area, the last on the morning of March 17, several hours before the bridge collapsed. These heavy blasts undoubtedly contributed to the downfall of the bridge, although they were by no means the primary cause." - The Bridge at Remagen, The Death of the Bridge (Chapter XIX, page 189), in regards to V-2 Rockets.

"... It is my opinion as an engineer the collapse occurred as a result of vibrations caused by numerous possible sources, i.e., air compressors, one crane, a few trucks, several electric arc welders, hammering, and finally, but important, the not insignificant concussion of heavy artillery recently emplaced in the town of Remagen." - Lieutenant Colonel Clayton A. Rust, Commander of the 276th Engineer Combat Battalion, The Bridge at Remagen, The Death of the Bridge (Chapter XIX, page 189-190), in regards to vibrations.

This chapter gives a more thorough account of the strain the bridge was under than simply these two reasons, including:

  • Partially successful demolition attempt.
  • German artillery shells.
  • Luftwaffe bombings.
  • V-2 Rockets
  • Continued traffic of infantry and heavy vehicles.
  • American anti-aircraft guns.
  • American Howitzers.
  • Increased burden surface repairs and equipment.
  • Strain from repair efforts themselves.
  • Possible (but unverifiable) sabotage.

"The next day, Hitler sent a congratulatory telegram to the officer in charge of the V-2 rocket launching team at Hellendoorn. It is unknown whether Hitler was aware that there had not been a direct hit by a V-2 rocket, but the fact that the bridge collapsed on the same day as the attack, was probably enough for Hitler to associate the collapse directly with the V-2 bombardment.[citation needed]"

Not sure which claim the citation is for. 'The Bridge at Remagen' claims that the last V-2 fired was only hours before of the collapse. However, the above paragraph suggests there was only one bombardment while the book indicates that the V-2 bombings happened over the course of at least 5 days. I have no information on Hitler's response.

"General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower declared the bridge "worth its weight in gold"[citation needed]"

"Eisenhower's Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith, termed the Remagen Bridge 'worth its weight in gold.'" - The Bridge at Remagen, The Significance of Remagen Bridge (Chapter XXII, page 222) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.105.185.51 (talk) 07:25, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

Crossing[edit]

I looked at Remagen on Bing Maps and saw that there is no bridge today anywhere near Remagen. How do people get from one side of the Rhine to the other? Ferries? Dietrich Doofuß — Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.245.114.202 (talk) 03:30, 12 December 2011 (UTC) Removed reference to British Rhein crossing later in March 1945, as it has no bearing on the page. There is a separate page discussing operation plunder. Jacob805 07:00, 21 September 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jacob805 (talkcontribs)

removal[edit]

Removed reference to British Rhein crossing later in March 1945, as it has no bearing on the page. There is a separate page discussing operation plunder.Jacob805 07:04, 21 September 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jacob805 (talkcontribs)

State captions of photos clearly to avoid confusing readers.[edit]

"The remains of the Ludendorff Bridge" in 1950, etc., must be stated to emphasize that this bridge was never rebuilt. People do get confused at the slightest excuse.
In fact, if they can be confused, they will be confused. Stating "the remains of" helps to wall off that possible confusion.
In comparison, a picture of "The bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem, Holland", really is right because that is the very same bridge that was fought over during Operation Market Garden. The big bridge at Nijmegen is the same one now as during World War II, also. There are hundreds of other bridges that have been demolished and replaced, however. Some people just do not know this.
98.67.175.254 (talk) 07:18, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

In actual matter of fact, the John Frost bridge at Arnhem is a replica. The "very same bridge that was fought over during Operation Market Garden" was blown up during World War II.198.161.2.241 (talk) 19:02, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

Arado Ar-234 B jet bomber attacks on the bridge[edit]

There's no mention of the fact that the best-known raids flown by the Arado 234 B Blitz bomber were 10 days worth of bombing missions against the Ludendorff Bridge, sometimes escorted by Me-262 jets. This is somewhat meaningful since the 234 was the first (and, for WWII, the only) jet bomber in the world. And Arado plus Me-262 raids, when they were flown, would have been the world's first jet bomber plus jet escort missions ever flown. There's plenty of published material on this, so I'll let somebody else do the grunt work if they wish, but it does seem a conspicuous omission from this account.173.62.11.59 (talk) 20:54, 15 August 2013 (UTC)