The history of the Bridge of Remagen
The Bridge of Remagen was built during the First World War at the insistence of the German generals in order to bring more troops and war material to the Western Front.
The railway bridge was planned by the architect Karl Wiener from Mannheim. It was 325 m long, its clear height above the normal water level of the Rhine was 14.80 m, the highest point of the arch 29.25 m. The bridge carried two railway tracks and a footbridge. It was considered one of the most beautiful steel bridges over the Rhine.
On 7 March 1945, a small vanguard of the 9th US Armoured Division led by Lieutenant Karl H. Timmermann, who was of German origin, succeeded in capturing the bridge after the German defenders had failed in two attempts to demolish it. This conquest went down in the annals of war history as the "Miracle of Remagen". General Eisenhower is said to have exclaimed: "The bridge is worth its weight in gold".
The German army command desperately tried to bring down the bridge in the following days by bombing raids and combat floats. Hitler, in impotent rage, set up a summary court which sentenced five officers to death and had four of them shot in the Westerwald.
On 17 March, the badly damaged bridge collapsed, killing at least 30 American soldiers.
The rebuilding of the Ludendorff Bridge was never seriously discussed. The "hereditary enmity" with our western neighbours gave way to Franco-German friendship, overcoming the reason why it was built in 1918. At the end of the 1970s, the remaining pillars in the Rhine were blown up. Only the two towers on the left and right banks of the Rhine remained, as did the tunnel with the former connection to the Rhine line.
The bridge towers on the left bank of the Rhine now house the FRIEDENSMUSEUM Brücke von Remagen. In the tunnel on the right bank of the Rhine in Erpel, the association "ad Erpelle - Kunst- und Kulturkreis Erpel e.V." regularly stages plays, concerts and other cultural events. You can find the link to the Ad Erpelle website here. The bridge towers on the right bank of the Rhine are the property of Deutsche Bahn AG.
Currently, it is being considered to connect both sides at the historic site with a bicycle and pedestrian bridge.