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Bridge of Remagen (overlay)

The Ludendorff Bridge was a railroad bridge across the Rhine in Germany, connecting the cities of Remagen and Erpel.

The bridge is famous for its capture by Allied forces in the Second World War. The bridge was an important strategic point in WWII because it was the only remaining bridge which led over the Rhine River into Germany and Berlin.

he bridge had been built in 1916 during the First World War to facilitate transport to the Western Front. Designed by Karl Wiener, it was 325 meters long, with two rail lines and a walkway. It was named for the German WWI general Erich Ludendorff, one of the bridge's proponents.

On March 7, 1945, troops of the US 9th Armored Division reached this last intact bridge over the Rhine, after German defenders failed to demolish it, despite several attempts. Lt. Karl Timmermann was the first officer over the bridge. By the Allies, this was hailed as the "Miracle of Remagen". General Eisenhower called the bridge "worth its weight in gold." It remained intact, but severely weakened, despite several further German efforts to destroy it. 8,000 men crossed it in the first 24 hours alone.

Hitler's reaction was to court-martial five officers, four of whom were quickly executed.

Ten days after its capture, the bridge collapsed, killing over 20 engineers working to strenghten the bridge. However, by then the Americans had established their position and had additional pontoon bridges in place.

A Hollywood film, The Bridge at Remagen was made in 1969. The surviving towers of the old bridge now house a museum.