The Biber midget submarine on the left hand-side of the garden is, without a doubt, one of the museum’s most important exhibits. But with its grey coat of paint, it’s a reminder of bad times and the misuse of the Rhine as a battle zone.
In the winter of 1944 to ’45, the midget sub was launched by means of the red, manually operated crane – the one on display between the garden and the church, next to the Rheinschule building. Up to ten of these small-scale military assets were deployed from Emmerich against the Dutch bridges in Nijmegen, less than 40 kilometres or 24 miles away.
The mission failed, some of the submarines got tangled in mesh barriers and were unable to fire their torpedoes. Many of the pilots were killed, in some instances because they suffocated inside the submersible from the gases produced by the internal combustion engines.
Thirteen years later, in June 1958, the example on display here was recovered from the Rhine at a location several kilometres downstream. The find was stored on a factory shop floor until some time in the 1980s. It was moved here, to its final berth, in the year 2,000.
You’re welcome to go out into the garden and take a closer look at the midget submarine and the other exhibits. We’ll be heading up to the first floor next. But before you make your way upstairs, take a look at the large aerial photograph. It shows the course of the Rhine past Emmerich and the location of the harbours.
We’ll reconnect in the first room on the upper floor. You’ll find our next stop by a wooden statue of Saint Christopher.
Foto: © Claudia Klein