WW2 History Roadtrip

Old May 31st, 2018, 02:15 PM
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WW2 History Roadtrip

Hey! My best friend and I are extremely interested in the history of the World Wars and want to do a road trip next year around Europe to the "hot spots" so to speak. We're not set on the length of time (no longer than 3 weeks though), but we know we're going to drive and stay at cheap hotels.
There are a few places we know we want to visit: Normandy beaches, Dunkirk, Auschwitz, Berlin, Poland, Hitler's Headquarters. Is there anywhere else you'd recommend? And any advice on what route to take? I'm a huge fan of Band of Brother's as well so it'd be awesome to include something to do with that but it's not a necessity!
At the minute it's an idea we really want to do, so any advice would be much appreciated! We've never planned a road trip before so we have no idea where to start or what to do!
Thank you!x
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Old May 31st, 2018, 02:46 PM
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Nurnberg was a center of Nazi exuberance - the vast parade grounds just south of town are still there - the place where Hitler famously reviewed goose-stepping troops - there is a documentation center and stadiums, etc.
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Old May 31st, 2018, 03:05 PM
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https://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries-memorials#.WxBuLe4vy70 These cemeteries are so very humbling. Luxembourg American cemetery is well worth the drive if you do the Battle of the Bulge tour. Patton is buried there facing the troops. Meh on him but excellent memorial. My Dad fought with the 509th PIR and was awarded the silver star at Sadzot. I never knew till I read it online. He told me he was the only one with a tommy gun and he had to cover his guys when they were surrounded. So many hidden places there but most are well marked. Bastogne is a good base and we did it all on our own. WW1 history is so interesting as well. We just did that in Feb. Beaumont Hamel was just so impressive. The Canadians left it as it except for the walk ways but planted Canadian pine trees all around the battlefields. The trenches are still there and they are the burial ground for so many as well as still dangerous. Third Reich in ruins is a good site. My husband did a French resistance tour in Paris and showed me the bullet holes in Notre Dame and the other buildings next to it. Also a couple of canon ball holes. He is retired military so loves researching and visiting. We balance it out somehow. Normandy, Belguim and France so far, next on list is where my Dad fought in Italy.

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Last edited by Macross; May 31st, 2018 at 03:10 PM. Reason: ,
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Old May 31st, 2018, 03:09 PM
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Reims has the WW2 Surrender Room or whatever they call it - right near train station in heart of town - desks and name plates and maps on walls left as was. And of course the infamous place near Compeignie in forest - old rail siding where WW1 armistic signed in rail car Hitler later blew up when he invaded France.
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Old May 31st, 2018, 03:30 PM
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Compeignie was closed when we went but we walked all around and saw the memorials. It was sort of nice being there alone. I thought about all the Jewish people that had been taken over those tracks from Paris. There is a peace ring there that was amazing. The city is very nice and want to go back and stay the night to explore more.
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Old May 31st, 2018, 05:16 PM
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The Peace Museum in Caen is very detailed, very complete (except for the war in the Pacific). And it's close to the Normandy beaches.

If you're ever in London, there's the Imperial War Museum and the Churchill underground War Rooms stopped in time just as they were at the end of WWII.
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Old May 31st, 2018, 06:00 PM
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Bastogne, Belgium. Easy Company (Band of Brothers) fought in the Battle of the Bulge at Bastogne.


I agree with the suggestion to visit the military cemeteries. There's nothing like seeing these places to get a sense of the sacrifices made.
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Old Jun 1st, 2018, 03:04 AM
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With only three weeks you are trying to cover a lot of ground with your must sees. I think you really need to look at a map and work out distances and decide if it is feasible.
One site we visited a couple of years ago was Peenemunde, where the V1 and V2 bombs were developed. The museum there is excellent, and gives a really good insight into how the rockets were developed, and also into reconciling modern rocket technology with it's Nazi past. https://museum-peenemuende.de/?lang=en
It's not one of the usual WW2 sites it's true, but it is certainly wrth a visit imho.

Otherwise Europe is covered in WW2 sites and you need to decide what exactly you want ot see - those with American/Canadian/Australian significance, those with Nazi signifcance, Jewish significance. You can't see them all so choose a theme and do a bit of research.
Visit at least one War Cemetary. Sobering to see the graves of so many young men.
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Old Jun 1st, 2018, 03:25 AM
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You might want to order a opy of this, which has a map to help you with your planning. https://www.ohio.com/akron/lifestyle...pe-hits-top-25

I would put Oradour-sur-Glane up there among the "must-visits."
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Old Jun 1st, 2018, 06:16 AM
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Hitler's HQ? Are any left? I thought they were all demolished.
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Old Jun 1st, 2018, 06:19 AM
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The "capes" near Calais (Cap Blanc Nez & Cap Gris Nez) are excellent for viewing all of the blockhaus architecture along the northern cliffs, as well as being sites of remarkable natural beauty. On certain days (but not every day) you can see the corresponding cliffs of England perfectly across the Channel.
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Old Jun 1st, 2018, 06:25 AM
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Auschwitz is a very impressive site (it took me several days to recover), but it is well out of your way. You might consider Dachau, outside Munich, instead. That would also give you a look at Munich, where Nazism got its start. Or Sachsenhausen outside Berlin.
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Old Jun 1st, 2018, 06:50 AM
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I'd second kerouac's suggestion. Stunningly beautiful area with plenty of WW2 (and earlier) remains. The UK looked so close when we were there, more so than France ever did when I was on the other side.
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Old Jun 1st, 2018, 07:10 AM
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Of course the Eagle's Nest near Berchetsgaden was a hang-out of Hitler - building still there though a restaurant now - still the views are the same.
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Old Jun 1st, 2018, 07:43 AM
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Yes to Eagle’s Nest!. When we drove there, there was no signage to direct us as if it were hidden away. Visiting there made Hitler’s paranoia very clear to us. You access the mountain top cottage via a buge elevator that goes hp inside the mountain.
We have done most of the sites you are interested in except the Battle of tne Bulge which we will visit. We traced my father’s WWII footsteps from Omaha Beach across France to Germany. Heading to St.Lô, we came across a small chapel dedicated to my father’s unit which was a lovely surprise. On it’s geounds a memorial to the 9/11 victims had also been erected. We bought a Michelin WWII map. We also had his letters and his Third Army Infantry“ yearbook” to guide us.
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Old Jun 1st, 2018, 10:17 AM
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One special type of concentration camps had been especially relevant for WWII, and that's the (underground) slave labor camps.
The most relevant and also well preserved is Dora, dug into the Southern Harz mountains.
That's where several 10K prisoners were forced to assemble the V2 missiles, after the Peenemünde facilities had become less safe.

While Dachau concentration camp is one of the best known, one should not forget that it's one of the model camps.
What you see there is the "nice" version of a concentration camp.
It was even shown to foreign visitors (in its early years) to prove that it was just a different type of a modern style prison.

While places like Dachau also saw all kinds of atrocities one can imagine and much more one cannot imagine, it's still part of a different set of camps compared to the extermination camps in the East.

There is nothing to see from Hitlers "HQ", i.e. the Reich Chancellery, except the red marble which had been repurposed to cover the walls of nearby Mohrenstr. subway station.

In Berlin, you can take several underground excursions to visit bunkers etc. - also those from the Cold War.
And a permanent exhibition on how Berlin was supposed to be re-designed after the war.. well, if Hitler had won the war.

In case you watched Valkyre or want to visit the courtyard where Stauffenberg had been executed, you can do that in Berlin as well

And, of course, Nürnberg is one important stop as you still see quite a lot of the former rally grounds.

Last edited by Cowboy1968; Jun 1st, 2018 at 10:23 AM.
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Old Jun 1st, 2018, 10:27 AM
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And one P.S. re. car rental that has not been mentioned yet, I think.
When you plan to rent in France and drop off in any other country, you want to check the fineprint for extra (often really steep) one-way cross-border drop-off fees. You can avoid this when you cover certain legs of your trip by train or plane. And rent a new vehicle when necessary.
Or do a loop trip to drop off in France again - which will incur many more kms, so costs for gas and lodging may become equal to the aforementioned extra drop-off fee.
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Old Jun 1st, 2018, 02:43 PM
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Bletchley Park, an hour by suburban train from central London, preserves the extensive code-breaking operations that were vital to British war efforts. Because silence remained tight for a half-century after the war, the museum is relatively new and full of fascinating details, particularly about the significant roles played by many women..

The Resistance museum in Amsterdam does not chronical combats but instead raises the issues confronting civilians trying to survive the German occupation.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2018, 11:17 PM
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Arnhem, the scene of the Market Garden Operation. A classic example of urban warfare.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2018, 10:19 AM
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If not mentioned above the bridge at Remagen - on Rhine near Bonn and Cologne was destroyed in WW2 and never rebuilt but towers remain with a museum about the bridge in WW2:

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