Remembering the war past of Salland on foot

Salland was liberated from German occupation in April 1945. Many locations in and around Sallandse Heuvelrug National Park remind us of WWII. These are impressive places that ask you to take time and remember events that occurred in those years. The 22-kilometer Liberation Route is a good example of a hike that takes you to the most extraordinary commemorative spots. A special combination of nature and history.

All year long.

Connection between then and now

When you reach the top of the Holterberg hill in the course of the hike, you will encounter one of the most impressive reminders of WWII: The Holten Canadian War Cemetery. 1394 soldiers were laid to rest in this monumental landscape. At the nearby information center, personal stories, anecdotes, and photographs take you back in time to the moment when the northeastern Netherlands was liberated.

Another highlight is the Memory Vrijheidsmuseum in Nijverdal, where you will experience step by step what the years from 1935 to 1945 looked like. Stunning, lifelike dioramas allow you to experience the war with all your senses. Even so, there is a strong connection to the present.

Here in Holten, you can also visit the Stevens Monument and onderduikershut that remind us of the war and the raid on 14 October 1944 in which two persons in hiding and a member of the resistance were killed. At the Stevens Monument, turn right into the forest path. The onderduikershut is about 300 meters down the path. Many people found shelter here during the war, a spot with a history fraught with danger set in a beautiful landscape.

Nationaal Park Sallandse Heuvelrug

Cycle to freedom

In addition to the 22-kilometer hiking trail, there are also four different Liberation Bicycle Routes. Explore and experience the route that the Allies followed through the Netherlands at the end of WWII in a sportive manner. You will pass listening stones and, in addition to birdsong and leaves rustling, will be able to listen to stories about important events at the time of liberation. These are the bicycle routes:

  • Bicycle route 1: Deventer - Olst - Wijhe (60 kilometers)
  • Bicycle route 2: Raalte - Wijhe (55 kilometers)
  • Bicycle route 3: Hellendoorn - Rijssen - Holten (45 kilometers)
  • Bicycle route 4: Wierden - Twenterand - Hellendoorn (75 kilometers)

You will find these four liberation routes in the guide ‘Experience liberation in Salland and Twente’. It also contains impressive personal stories, suggested accommodations, and tips for cafés and restaurants. You can buy the guides at Tourist Info offices and VVV agencies in Salland.

The potstal at Schaapskooi Twilhaar

While not a historic location from WWII, the Twilhaar sheepfold (schaapskooi) does fit in well with the history of the Sallandse Heuvelrug. Sheep are used here to preserve the heather and help produce typical moorland products. The Twilhaar sheepfold boasts a real deep litter shed with a floor more than one meter below ground level. For centuries, farmers collected sheep dung here and mixed it with thick chunks of heather. They used the mix to fertilize the sandy soil of their fields.

You can stay at the Twilhaar campground from April through to October. Pick a spot along the edge of the forest within view of the cozy campfire grounds or pitch your tent in one of the sheltered green recesses between the trees and bushes. 

Travel abroad on the Liberation Route Europe

The Liberation Route Europe crosses borders: it starts at the beaches of Normandy and runs through North Brabant, Nijmegen, Arnhem and Overijssel towards Berlin. It is an ever-expanding international commemorative route that interconnects important milestones in modern European history. The route represents a connection between the major regions in the advance of the Western Allies.