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3  "The watch on the Rhine"  Everyday Life of the Soldiers at the Bridge

During the first years of the war, soldiers of the “bridge protection company” spent their days doing guard duty, maneuvers, and sports.  After the landing in Normandy on
June 6th, 1944, allied forces began flying systematic attacks on German bridges across the Rhine.  The Rhine-Ahr region became a target of attack for allied bombers from autumn of 1944 on, because it was a retreat area for German troops.

German leaders attributed no importance to the Bridge at Remagen until the spring of 1945.  There were hardly any troops stationed in the the Middle Rhine area. In the face of a quick allied advance, the Bridge was hastily made ready to be blown up on March 6th, 1945.  But all attempts to destroy it failed.  Hitler suspected treason and ordered a special court to sentence all involved to death on March 9th.

After the US 9th Armored Division took the bridge, the German Wehrmacht intensified its efforts to destroy the bridge.  On March 17th, the day the bridge collapsed, a V2 missile, called a "retaliatory weapon” by the propaganda, was fired upon the Bridge at Remagen, the only time the V2 was used on a German target. Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, devoted numerous diary entries to the taking of the Ludendorff Bridge.