Today was the last day of the conference and all the delegates were invited on an evening cruise along the Rhine. There were about 700 people on board – the vessel was almost as big as a cruise ship – much larger than the one in the picture below. We sailed south (upstream) and passed Konigswinter, which is where I plan to head tomorrow. I will be taking a week’s leave from tomorrow morning so intend to hike up Drachenfels, which is the hill that you can see in the photograph below with the ruined castle on top. It was recommended to me as a good day’s hiking trip within easy reach of Bonn.
The food on board was superb – there was an excellent buffet downstairs and a barbeque on the upper deck – and plenty of German beers and wines to sample. We sailed for about two hours and turned around at Remagen. I don’t think many of the foreign delegates on board realised the historical significance of Remagen. It was here that the Americans captured the strategically significant Ludendorff Bridge over the Rhine (it was the subject of a 1968 war movie called ‘The Bridge at Remagen’) as they were advancing on the German army in the closing stages of World War II.
The German army had tried to destroy the bridge with explosives as they retreated from the advancing Americans, but some Polish engineers that had been conscripted into the German Army cut the fuses. However, after the Americans captured the bridge, the German air force tried to destroy it by bombing and with V-2 rockets, and it eventually collapsed 10 days after it was captured – but by then thousands of American soldiers had crossed the bridge into the heartland of Germany.
Today only the stone supports at either end of the bridge remain standing (the section of bridge in the foreground of the picture below is not part of the original bridge).
The bridge was never rebuilt, and today there is still no bridge between Bonn and Linz (which is to the south of Remagen). People cross the Rhine here using ferries.