THE FIRST MUSEUM IN WESTERN EUROPE ABOUT THE SECOND WORLD WAR.
The museum was founded by the Overloner Harrie van Daal. He was a civil servant at the Vierlingsbeek Municipality in the 1930s and had also visited the WW1 battlefield of Belgian Ypres. That war was just twenty years ago at the time and the ravages of War had stayed him.
Van Daal remained a civil servant during the Second World War. He managed to keep a number of men from the Arbeitseinsatz by making them members of the voluntary fire brigade, at least on paper.
And then came the Battle of Overloon. The population had to evacuate immediately, including Van Daal. When he returned after the Battle, his own backyard turned out to be a sort of second Ypres. The village was totally destroyed. People slowly rebuilt their lives.
In May 1945, Van Daal walked through the destroyed Overloonse forest with all the remains of the battle. Van Daal and a forest worker examined the situation and thought that a monument should actually be built here, for example, a museum, in honour of those who fell for freedom.
They put their idea to the mayor and of course, as it was then, to the pastor. And a year later, on May 25, 1946, the museum opened to the public - even before the village was rebuilt. It was the first museum about the Second World War in Western Europe.
Van Daal, who shunned publicity, always kept the man in the background, as secretary of the board. Among other things, he received the German Bundesverdienstkreuz for his efforts.