World War Two Sites | WW2 Historic Places

If you’re looking to explore World War Two sites and want to find the best places to view WW2 history then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.

There’s a great selection of World War Two sites and you can plan some fantastic things to see on your trips. Once you’ve explored the list of World War Two sites and selected those you wish to visit you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook. This indispensible holiday guide will help you make the most of your time exploring WW2 sites.

Our database of WWII historic sites is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other World War Two sites, remains or ruins, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.

World War Two: Site Index

Photo by Lauren J. (cc)

Anne Frank’s House

Anne Frank’s House is a museum of the life of Holocaust victim, Anne Frank, whose diary was published to worldwide acclaim.

DID YOU KNOW?

Anne Frank’s house was the site where German Jewish teenager and Holocaust victim Anne Frank, her family, the van Pels family and later a man called Fritz Pfeffer went into hiding from the Nazis during World War II.

Although known as Anne Frank’s House, the site was originally her father’s office building and all eight inhabitants lived in a secret annex in the attic hidden by a moveable bookcase. Tragically, the group’s whereabouts were eventually betrayed to the Nazis and, on 4 August 1944, they were arrested and imprisoned in concentration camps. Anne Frank died in Bergen-Belsen in March 1945, but her diary was later discovered by her father and published to worldwide acclaim.

Anne Frank’s House is now a museum allowing visitors to see the moving bookcase, walk through the cramped secret annex and gain a true appreciation of the hardship this group endured in their fight for survival.

The Anne Frank Museum has collected and exhibits many original letters, photos and objects belonging to the Frank family as well as to the van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer. Anne Frank’s original diary is also on display.

Photo by pastorbuhro (cc)

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia is an iconic burial site and a national monument.

DID YOU KNOW?

Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia is both a military burial site and an iconic monument to fallen soldiers. Initially, the site of Arlington Cemetery began as a house – Arlington House – built in memory of President George Washington. The house, which still stands today, then became the property of Mary and Robert E. Lee.

During the American Civil War, Lee was asked to be a Union leader but refused, waiting to see how Virginia would side. When Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, Lee became a commander of the Confederate army and fled from Arlington House shortly before the Union crossed the Potomac River and took the land around Washington. Eventually captured, Arlington House would become a Union army base.

In January 1864, the government legally purchased Arlington House and, later that year, desperately in need of space to bury the increasing number of war casualties, Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs designated Arlington a national cemetery – a function for which it had unofficially already been used. By the end of the conflict in 1865, Arlington housed the graves of over 5,000 soldiers.

Over the years, Arlington National Cemetery has come to represent a memorial to all US soldiers who have died for their country and is still an active cemetery. In fact, there are approximately 300,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery, neatly aligned and each with a white headstone.

With its status as a nationally heritage site, Arlington National Cemetery has also formed the location of numerous monuments. Amongst these are The Arlington Memorial Amphitheatre, where memorials and funerals are held, the United States Marine Corps Memorial, an iconic statue depicting soldiers raising the American flag and the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.

Arlington National Cemetery is also the home of The Tomb of the Unknowns, a burial place for one unidentified soldier from each of World War I, World War II and the Korean War. There was a soldier from the Vietnam War, but he was later identified and moved.

Many famous Americans are buried at Arlington National Cemetery, from military heroes to astronauts and leaders such as President John F Kennedy. Those visiting Arlington National Cemetery can start at the visitor centre, where there are guide books, maps and exhibits. Arlington House itself is also open to the public, with a museum and guides chronicling this building’s unique history.

Photo by jeaneeem (cc)

Arnhem Bridge

Arnhem Bridge was the site of a legendary battle during during WWII and was part of the biggest airborne operation ever undertaken.

DID YOU KNOW?

Arnhem Bridge in the Netherlands was has become a timeless symbol of the bravery of airborne soldiers and was the site of a legendary battle during the Second World War. The resulting failure to capture the bridge has led it to be known as "a bridge too far".

By September 1944, the Allies had broken Hitler's Atlantic Wall with the invasion of Normandy and, after bitter fighting, the Germans had been forced back through France and Paris had been liberated. Wanting to capitalise on their momentum and determined to defeat Germany as swiftly as possible, Allied forces planned to invade northern Germany. In doing so, they planned an ambitious airborne assault to capture a number of key river crossings and open a gateway into Germany.

The plan, known as Operation Market Garden, involved dropping thousands of Allied troops behind enemy lines to secure a number of key river crossings. These troops would then secure the crossing over the Rhine, including Arnhem Bridge, paving the way for a ground assault. It would be the biggest airborne assault in history.

The divisions involved included the American 82nd Airborne Division under General James Gavin, the 101st American Airborne Division led by General Maxwell Taylor and the First British Airborne Division commanded by Major General Robert Urquhart. This ambitious plan would also require the British XXX Corps to relieve the airborne troops.

Operation Market Garden, which took place from 17 to 25 September 1944, soon went badly wrong for the Allies. Paratroopers were dropped too far from their lines and few made it to their correct targets, communication was a major issue and the force of the German response had been underestimated.

The Second Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, led by Lieutenant-Colonel John Frost, were responsible for securing Arnhem Bridge but only had a fraction of their planned numbers after the jump. They did succeed in capturing half of the bridge and fought determinedly to defend it for several days against overwhelming odds, but eventually the Germans managed to pin them down and regained control of the area.

Yet, despite the fact that the battle of Arnhem Bridge and Operation Market Garden as a whole were a defeat for the Allies, the bravery and valour of Frost’s troops has become the stuff of legend and even inspired the 1977 film, “A Bridge Too Far”.

Today, Arnhem Bridge is an unassuming sight and there is little to see, although there are memorials and museums nearby. Yearly commemorations take place at Arnhem Bridge to remember the battle which took place there.

Photo by tsaiproject (cc)

Auschwitz Concentration Camp

Auschwitz Birkenau was the largest Nazi concentration camp or death camp during World War II and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

DID YOU KNOW?

Auschwitz Birkenau was a concentration camp founded by the Nazis near the town of Oświęcim or “Auschwitz” in Poland and which became the largest and most infamous camp of them all.

Opened in 1940 following the Nazi annexation of Poland, Auschwitz was originally intended to be a prison for the large number of arrested Poles overwhelming existing local prisons. However, by 1942, Auschwitz had taken on a further role, as the main “death camp” in Hitler’s mission to exterminate the Jewish people, known as the “Final Solution” or the Holocaust.

Those interned at Auschwitz were subject to the most horrific treatment, including forced labour, starvation, random executions and various forms of torture such as “medical experiments”.

Auschwitz was also the central location for Hitler’s campaign to exterminate the Jews in gas chambers. By the time Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet forces on 27 January 1945, the camp had claimed 1.3 million lives, the vast majority of whom were Jewish.

Auschwitz was made up of three sections. The first and original “Auschwitz I” became the camp’s administrative centre, but also operated as part of the camp and was the original testing venue for gassing prisoners using Zyklon B. “Auschwitz II”, which was actually in the nearby town of Birkenau, became the main prisoner centre and a mass extermination site, while “Auschwitz III” was the main labour camp.

Auschwitz Museum is based at the original concentration camp site and offers visitors the chance to pass through the camp's infamous arches bearing the chilling slogan of "Arbeit macht frei" or "Work will set you free". Inside, visitors can tour Auschwitz Birkenau individually or in group tours. The length of the tour can vary, but lasts approximately three and a half hours.

Australian 9th Division War Memorial

The Australian 9th Division War Memorial is dedicated to the Australian soldiers who fought in North Africa during World War II.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Australian 9th Division War Memorial in Egypt commemorates those Australian troops who died between July and November 1942 during the World War II North Africa Campaign, particularly the Battle of El Alamein.

Around 6,000 members of the Australian 9th Division became casualties in these battles. The Australian 9th Division War Memorial is adjacent to the El Alamein Cemetery.

Photo by yetdark (cc)

Austratt Fort

Austratt Fort is a World War II fort built by occupying forces at the time.

DID YOU KNOW?

Austratt Fort is a World War II fort built by occupying forces at the time. Located just beyond Trondheim, Austratt Fort was part of the Atlantic Wall, a series of fortifications intended to protect against Allied landings.

Today, Austratt Fort is open to the public who can tour its engines rooms, mess hall, 200-strong soldiers’ accommodation and the site’s main highlight, its vast gun turret and impressive triple gun with 38,000 metre-range.

Near Austratt Fort there is an interesting exhibition about the occupation of Fosen at Austratt.

Averof Museum

The most famous Greek warship, the Averof saw action for over 40 years including during the two world wars.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Georgios Averof is the most famous of all Greek warships and was in service for over 40 years, including seeing action during both world wars. Today the Averof is home to a maritime and nautical museum in Athens.

Launched in 1911, the warship was built at the Orlando Shipyards in Livorno, Italy and paid for with the help of one of Greece’s most significant benefactors, Georgios Averof – after whom it was named.

Over the following decades, the Averof had a long service history. She saw action in both the first and second World Wars as well as during the two Balkan Wars.

Decommissioned in 1952, the Averof has now been renovated and transformed into the Averof Museum, a naval museum that serves to honour all those who lost their lives at sea fighting for their country. Visitors learn the history of the Hellenic navy and the museum also organises exhibitions and seminars on Greek and international nautical history.

Battle of Leyte Gulf Memorial

The Battle of Leyte Gulf Memorial commemorates the biggest historic naval battle of World War II.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Battle of Leyte Gulf Memorial commemorates what is generally known as the biggest historic naval battle of World War II.

Fought in the seas around the Philippines in October 1944 between US and Japanese fleets, as well as by air, the Battle of Leyte Gulf is famed not just for its grand scale, but also as a pivotal point in the Pacific campaign. Indeed, this decisive US victory opened the way for recapturing the Philippines from the Japanese and gaining general control of the Pacific theatre.

Many aircraft carriers and support vessels were sunk in the Leyte Gulf, but it is generally thought that many of these wrecks are too deep to be visited by scuba divers so there is little to see of this naval battle. For those looking for a place to remember this important military event, there is the Battle of Leyte Gulf Memorial in San Diego in the States.

For an important memorial connected to the Battle of Leyte Gulf located in the Philippines, there is the Leyte Landing Memorial, which is in aid of the related Battle of Leyte.

Photo by iamkaspar (cc)

Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum

The Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum traces the events of this famous WW2 battle.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum or ‘Musee Memorial de la Bataille de Normandie’ in Bayeux tells of the story of the World War II battle which loosened Germany’s grasp on Europe and paved the way for an allied victory.

Taking a chronological approach, the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum begins in the period prior to the initial assault, through to the infamous Normandy Landings on D-Day up to 29 August 1944. Displaying military objects from the time, including weaponry and uniforms, the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum offers an overview of the battle and an insight into the events, including a 25 minute film.

A visit to the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum usually lasts around 1.5 hours.

Photo by em 140 (cc)

Big Red One Assault Museum

The Big Red One Assault Museum looks at the history of the US First Infantry Division in World War Two.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Big Red One Assault Museum in Normandy is dedicated to the efforts of the US First Infantry Division, nicknamed the Big Red One, particularly their part in the D-Day Landings on 6 June 1944.

The Big Red One division were part of the infamous landing at Omaha Beach where, despite the difficulties encountered, they together with the 29th division went on to secure the areas around Saint-Laurent, Vierville and Colleville.

The Big Red One Assault Museum chronicles this assault, including a film about its events. An hour-long guided tour is available upon request in English and French.

Photo by Draco2008 (cc)

Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park was Station X, the central location of British code cracking operations during the Second World War.

DID YOU KNOW?

Bletchley Park is a country estate fifty miles north of London. Originally the home of the Leon family in the late 19th century, Bletchley Park was then bought by a property developer, but in 1938 its role changed entirely from being a residential house to a vital British intelligence centre.

As Adolph Hitler’s campaign to invade Europe intensified, Bletchley Park was taken over by the government, who deemed it the perfect place to move the Government Code and Cypher School.

Bletchley Park, known by the codename Station X, became the site where the British managed to decipher the machinations of the Enigma, the highly effective code encryption machines used by the Nazis.

Today, visitors can explore the history of Bletchley Park’s role during the war. With a brand new visitor centre, an interactive multimedia guide and an immersive introduction, visitors can have a fun and informative journey.

Photo by Historvius

Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate is a Romanesque gateway, a political symbol and one of Berlin’s most famous landmarks.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Brandenburg Gate is a famous landmark in Berlin built between 1788 and 1791 which once served as a city gateway. Commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia it stood in the entrance to boulevard Unter den Linden, which led to the city palace.

The Brandenburg Gate was designed by Karl Gotthard Langhans and built in a Romanesque style similar to the Propylaea, the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens, with six Doric columns on each side.

Whilst King Frederick William II intended the Brandenburg Gate to be a symbol of peace, different peoples have attached numerous meanings to it throughout its history. The Nazis adopted the Brandenburg Gate as a symbol of their party during their reign in the 1930's and 1940's and it was also a potent reminder of the Cold War when it fell into the no-man’s land within the Berlin Wall. During this time, the Brandenburg Gate formed a focal point of many politically charged rallies and speeches, including visits by American Presidents John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

A more positive symbolic attachment was formed in 1990, when, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, many viewed the Brandenburg Gate as emblematic of German reunification. Today, visitors from around the world come to see the Brandenburg Gate and its ornate carvings, including its dramatic depiction of Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory, driving a horse drawn chariot. The Brandenburg Gate features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Germany.

Photo by brianburk9 (cc)

Cabinet War Rooms

The Cabinet War Rooms are part of the underground bunker complex in London where Winston Churchill and his government operated during World War Two.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Cabinet War Rooms are part of the underground bunker complex in London where Winston Churchill and his government operated during World War Two.

In the 1930’s, realising that there was likely to be a war, the government needed to build a bombproof shelter and cabinet war rooms from which to carry on business should there be damage to 10 Downing Street and Whitehall.

Beneath the Treasury building there was already an extensive basement, so this was expanded with a warren of tunnels and topped off with a thick concrete roof to withstand any enemy bombs.

It was from the Cabinet War Rooms that Churchill, his cabinet and some 500 civil servants worked, and sometimes slept, throughout the War.

The Cabinet War Rooms were left untouched from 1945, when they were no longer needed, until the 1980s when they were restored and opened to the public. Not all rooms are open to the public and the complex is believed to have around 200 rooms in total.

Those which are open include the cabinet war room, where Churchill’s war cabinet met, Churchill’s office and his bedroom. This underground office block even included a canteen and a hospital.

Visitors should allow at least 90 minutes to savour the atmosphere of this iconic Second World War site.

Photo by detsang (cc)

Canadian National War Memorial

The Canadian National War Memorial commemorates losses from World War I, World War II and the Korean War.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Canadian National War Memorial commemorates losses from World War I and, since 2000, it has also come to represent those who fell in World War II and the Korean War. A large granite cenotaph located in Ottawa, the Canadian National War Memorial is also home to the Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Photo by jaycross (cc)

Canadian War Museum

The Canadian War Museum is the national military history museum.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Canadian War Museum (Musee Canadien De La Guerre) is the national military history museum.

With over 2,000 artefacts on display ranging from weapons to vehicles as well as photos, interactive and artistic exhibits, the Canadian War Museum looks at the military history of Canada. It focuses particularly from the perspective of the personal experiences of those who took part and were affected by historic conflicts, both at home and on the battlefield.

The remit of the Canadian War Museum begins with exploring the very concept of war and moves from aboriginal warfare through to the European imperial wars, the South African Wars up to both World Wars and beyond.

Photo by edwin.11 (cc)

Changi Museum

Changi Prison was used by the Japanese to intern prisoners of war during World War II.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Changi Museum in east Singapore is dedicated to remembering the events surrounding the Japanese occupation of Singapore and specifically the lives and experiences of the thousands of civilian and Allied prisoners of war who were held in the Changi prison camp area.

The museum contains a number of different exhibits including an area holding replicas of the famous Changi murals - painted by British POW Stanley Warren during his time in captivity.

Other sections of the Changi Museum focus on the early days of the war, personal possessions donated by the POWs themselves and a selection of other artwork produced by the prisoners. There is also an area devoted specifically to the infamous Changi Prison itself, including an original piece of the prison wall as well as an original cell door. A final exhibition at Changi Museum focuses on the end of the war as well as the many stories of bravery, survival and heroism which were documented during the occupation.

Conditions at Changi during the war were said to be horrendous and the prisoners' experiences were often depicted in murals, sketches and even immortalised in a book by novelist, James Clavell.

As well as the many exhibitions, the Changi Chapel can be found at the Changi Museum and allows visitors to light a candle to remember those who were held at Changi during the war.

Overall, Changi Museum offers a very moving insight into the lives of the prisoners and serves as both a place of remembrance and education.

Photo by mcalamelli (cc)

Coriano Ridge War Cemetery

Coriano Ridge War Cemetery is a World War Two Commonwealth cemetery in Coriano in Italy.

DID YOU KNOW?

Coriano Ridge War Cemetery in Italy is a World War II Commonwealth cemetery located in what was a vital strategic site in 1944.

Once Italy had reached an armistice with the Allies in 1943, Allied forces began to engage in fierce battles aimed at removing German forces – particularly the Gothic Line - from Italy, especially in the areas surrounding Rimini.

It was vital for the Allies to take Coriano Ridge in order to allow them to liberate Rimini from German forces. Yet, hampered by severe rain and German resistance, the battle for Coriano Ridge, whilst eventually successful, led to significant casualties.

Today, Coriano Ridge War Cemetery contains the neatly tended graves of 1,939 Commonwealth soldiers from the British and Canadian divisions that fought there, notably the Eighth Army, the 1st British Armoured Division and the 5th Canadian Armoured Division.

Dachau Concentration Camp

Dachau Concentration Camp was a Nazi concentration camp in Germany.

DID YOU KNOW?

Dachau Concentration Camp (KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau) was one of the first of many concentration camps set up by the Nazis to imprison and murder certain groups as part of their campaign of genocide. Founded on 22 March 1933, a mere few weeks after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, Dachau Concentration Camp was seen as an example for the SS as to how to run other such camps throughout Europe.

Overall, Dachau Concentration Camp housed over 200,000 prisoners, which included Jews, homosexuals, communists and other groups considered to be inferior or subversive by the National Socialists. These prisoners were kept in dire conditions and subjected to ongoing atrocities including forced labour and medical experimentation. In total, around 41,500 people were murdered at Dachau, many of whom were incinerated in the crematorium in Barrack X.

The camp was liberated by American forces on 29 April 1945.

Today, the site of Dachau Concentration Camp houses a memorial to those who suffered and perished under the Nazis. Visitors can tour the grounds and the remains of the camp and audio guides are available as are guided tours. There are several exhibitions detailing the history of the camp as well as a documentary shown at 11:30am, 2pm and 3:30pm in English and at 11am and 3pm in German.

Photo by kenhodge13 (cc)

Darwin Military Museum

Detailing Darwin's military history during WWII, this museum houses many artefacts and exhibits from the early 1940s.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Darwin Military Museum, located in the East Point Military Museum complex of Darwin, houses exhibits and artefacts detailing the role of the city during WWII.

Darwin, the capital city of Australia’s Northern Territory played a crucial role in the country’s WWII involvement. At the start of the war 10,000 allied troops were sent to the city to defend the nation’s northern coastline from Japanese air attacks, this would increase to a record of 110,000 by 1943. In 1942 Japanese warplanes bombed Darwin, killing at least 243 people, and the Northern Territory was subjected to a further 62 air attacks before 1944.

The new and improved Defence of Darwin Experience is an interactive, multimedia exhibition that details Darwin’s history and its role in World War II. Originally created as an artillery museum, the exhibition features vehicles, uniforms, firearms, images and paintings alongside artillery pieces. As well as the exhibitions, it is possible to explore the bunkers that were used by personnel in WWII and also to see military vehicles left in their original positions. As the forefront of Australia’s homeland military action, Darwin was also the base for American forces attempting to free Manila and defend Guinea from Japanese forces.

The museum itself is housed in the original 1940s gun emplacements that were built to defend the city against attack by sea or air, these guns are still in situ and visitors can encircle them as they stroll through the exhibition. A small but rapidly expanding and improving museum, the Darwin Military Museum gives the most detailed and personal introduction to the impact of WWII on the Australian mainland. Although focused on WWII, the museum also holds information and articles relating to the entire military history of the Northern Territory.

Contributed by Isabelle Moore

Photo by Historvius

Dover Castle

The medieval Dover Castle is one of Britain’s most significant fortresses and has a fascinating and diverse history.

DID YOU KNOW?

Dover Castle has been a vitally important fortress in English history, leading it to be known as 'the key to England'. Dover Castle’s location is a central aspect of this history.

Perched high on the England’s coastal white cliffs overlooking the shortest crossing between the island and mainland Europe, Dover Castle has been seen as the first line of defence from invasion. In fact, even before the castle was erected, Dover’s cliffs were a popular site for building strongholds over the centuries with evidence dating back to the Iron Age. Two other such sites, an Ancient Roman lighthouse and an Anglo Saxon fort, are still visible nearby.

The first incarnation of Dover Castle was itself built in the eleventh century by William the Conqueror. Fresh from his victory at the 1066 Battle of Hastings, he built a castle of timber and earth. Over the centuries, Dover Castle would be improved, expanded and renovated, but throughout this time and until 1958 it would be continually garrisoned.

It was King Henry II who gave Dover Castle its recognizable form as a stone fortress in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, with further adaptations being made over time to cope with ever changing threats. One of the most interesting parts of Dover Castle is its labyrinth of underground passages.

The Tunnels

Designed by William Twiss and constructed within the cliffs themselves in the eighteenth century, these underground tunnels and barracks were intended to defend Britain from a perceived threat of invasion during the Napoleonic Wars. Despite never being needed for this purpose, the tunnels have proved eminently useful in other endeavours, including as a headquarters in the fight against smuggling and, upon being adapted to become bomb-proof, as secret wartime tunnels during World War Two. Dover Castle’s tunnels continued to play a military role and, in what is known as their finest hour, they formed a base during the Dunkirk evacuations in 1940.

Dover Castle Today

Today, Dover Castle is managed by English Heritage and is open to the public, providing a fascinating insight into the fortress’s history. Visitors can explore the medieval castle and its underground tunnels, viewing numerous exhibitions which immerse them in the lives of Dover Castle’s former inhabitants and tell its fascinating story. Much of this extremely well preserved castle has been restored to its original state or to show what it would have been like at different points in history, offering a truly authentic experience. Fans of ancient history can also view a well-preserved Roman lighthouse. Guided tours are available, some free, some at a charge.

Dunkirk Cemetery and Memorial

The Dunkirk Cemetery and Memorial commemorate the commonwealth troops that fought there in both World Wars.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Dunkirk Cemetery and Memorial are located near the site where hundreds of thousands of allied troops were evacuated as part of Operation Dynamo – the historic campaign to rescue cut off troops from advancing German forces during World War II. Dunkirk had also played an important role as an allied base in World War I.

Dunkirk Cemetery houses 460 World War I graves and 793 from World War II, of which 223 are unidentified. At the entrance to Dunkirk Cemetery is the Dunkirk Memorial, commemorating 4,500 British Expeditionary Force troops who died or were captured there during World War II and who have no known grave.

Dunkirk War Museum

The Dunkirk War Museum or “Memorial du Souvenir” tells the story of the famous World War II allied evacuation of Dunkirk.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Dunkirk War Museum or “Memorial du Souvenir” tells the story of the famous World War II allied evacuation of Dunkirk. The Dunkirk evacuation took place between 26 May and 4 June 1940 and was an operation - codenamed Dynamo - to rescue hundreds of thousands of British, French, Canadian, and Belgian soldiers cut off by advancing German forces.

At the time, the Germans had control of Calais and there were insufficient Royal Navy vessels to carry all of the troops. Thus, in a campaign widely regarded as miraculous, heroic and bold, the evacuation of Dunkirk was carried out not just by military ships but by civilian ones.

Hundreds of small boats and ships including even fishing vessels and pleasure boats were mobilised for use in the mission. While this command was given by the admiralty, many of the boats were captained by civilians. Casualties ran into the thousands as did the number of soldier taken hostage yet, despite coming under heavy bombardment, these “little ships” together with the warships, managed to evacuate around 338,000 troops.

Located in the former headquarters of the French army, The Dunkirk War Museum explores the build up to and the events which took place as part of Operation Dynamo. There is a film about Dunkirk and it also houses numerous objects relating to this event including weaponry, artillery and other pieces found on the beaches.

Photo by HBarrison (cc)

Dutch National Monument

The Dutch National Monument is a World War II memorial in Amsterdam.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Dutch National Monument is an obelisk in Dam Square in Amsterdam which commemorates those who died in World War II.

Germany invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940, bringing the formally neutral country into the war and occupying it thereafter. It would not be fully liberated again until May 1945. By the end of the Second World War, the Netherlands had one of the highest casualty rates of all German occupied countries, with over 205,000 having died.

The Dutch National Monument commemorates these casualties as well as the Dutch resistance during the occupation.

Photo by davehighbury (cc)

El Alamein Battlefield

El Alamein Battlefield in Egypt was the site of a crucial Allied victory in the Second World War.

DID YOU KNOW?

El Alamein Battlefield in Egypt was the site a major victory by the Allied forces during the Second World War., known as the Second Battle of El-Alamein. Over three years, Allied and Axis forces engaged in an ongoing conflict in the North African region, with Germany’s commander, Rommel, intent on capturing Alexandria and the Suez Canal.

The First Battle of El Alamein saw the Allies stall the progress of Italian and German armies. However, it was the Second Battle of El Alamein which changed the fortunes of the Allies, forcing the Axis out of Egypt and safeguarding the vital route of the Suez Canal. Prior to the battle, the newly appointed leader of the Eighth Army, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery had spent months building up the British forces both with reinforcements and munitions. Finally, the British attacked on the night of 23 October 1942 and, by 5 November the Italian and German armies withdrew.

The victory at El Alamein Battlefield was a vital turning point for the Allies, summarised succinctly by Winston Churchill: “It may almost be said, Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat."

Today, El Alamein Battlefield is surrounded by numerous memorials, cemeteries and sites to the different Allied and Axis forces who fought there. Several 1942 battlements and bunkers can be seen from the roadside together with several plaques, including one on the Alexandria-Marsa Matruh Route which shows the furthermost position reached by German and Italian forces.

Note that it is best to stay on the roads as there are mines and other dangerous materials thought to be located on the battlefield itself. There is also a museum about the battle. This sombre site features as one of our top attractions to visit in Egypt.

El Alamein Commonwealth Cemetery

The El Alamein Commonwealth Cemetery is a British operated military cemetery near the site of the Battle of El Alamein.

DID YOU KNOW?

The El Alamein Commonwealth Cemetery is the burial place of 7,240 Commonwealth soldiers who died in the course of the Western Desert campaign in Egypt and Libya during World War II, particularly those who were killed in the Battle of El Alamein in 1942.

Together with the beautifully organised grave site, the El Alamein Commonwealth Cemetery houses the Alamein Cremation Memorial and the El Alamein Memorial. It is located near the El Alamein Battlefield.

Photo by heatheronhertravels (cc)

El Alamein War Museum

The El Alamein War Museum is dedicated to the Second Battle of El Alamein fought in 1942 during WW2.

DID YOU KNOW?

The El Alamein War Museum houses a series of exhibitions about the Second Battle of El Alamein, a crucial Allied victory during World War II in which the Italian and German armies were forced out of Egypt.

Housing a collection of uniforms, armed vehicles and weaponry, the El Alamein War Museum provides an insight into the 1942 battle which has since been labelled a turning point in the war. The museum is located close to the main El Alamein Battlefield.

Photo by tiseb (cc)

Ellis Island

Ellis Island is a famous island off New York City which served as an immigration centre from 1892 to 1954.

DID YOU KNOW?

Ellis Island was the entry point into the United States of America for over twelve million immigrants between 1892 and 1954.

Prior to this, Ellis Island had been owned by the state of New York and was purchased by the federal government in 1808, first for use as a fortification and, following the shift of immigration powers from individual states to the federal government in 1890, as the port for immigration into New York. Castle Garden (or Castle Clinton) had originally served this purpose, but more space was needed due to the increasing influx of mostly European migrants in the 19th century.

The Ellis Island Immigration Station which operates as a museum today was the second such building on the Island, completed in 1900 after the original burnt down.

Ellis Island served as a checking point for disease and legal issues of those incoming “steerage” passengers who could not afford a first or second ticket on the boats, as those with such tickets were considered unlikely to have any such issues.

Ellis Island was known as the “Island of Tears” for the two percent of migrants who were refused entrance to the US, usually due to being diagnosed with a contagious disease or considered likely to commit crime. In fact, Ellis Island was generally regarded as a symbol of hope, particularly with its location in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.

After 1924, Ellis Island was mostly used as a detention centre, especially during World War II, by which time most immigration procedures were carried out in consulates.

The Ellis Island Immigration Museum offers a detailed insight into the island’s history, its role in the country’s immigration procedures and the stories of the immigrants. It is a celebration of immigration, including a wall of honour and many exhibits and artifacts. Ellis Island also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in the USA.

Photo by US Army Africa (cc)

Enfidaville War Cemetery

Enfidaville War Cemetery is a World War II Commonwealth graveyard in Tunisia.

DID YOU KNOW?

Enfidaville War Cemetery in Tunisia is a World War II Commonwealth cemetery housing the graves of 1,551 soldiers who died in the course of the North Africa Campaign, particularly the Tunisia Campaign. Of these graves, 88 are unidentified.

The Tunisia Campaign was fought between Allied and Axis forces from 1942 to 1943, with the Axis surrendering on 13 May 1943. The area in which the Enfidaville War Cemetery is located and the surrounding area of Tarkouna saw fierce fighting near the end of this campaign and most of those buried there perished in the period of March to May 1943. The town of Enfidaville was itself captured by the Allied Eighth Army on 19 April 1943.

Photo by Adam.J.W.C. (cc)

Fort Scratchley

Fort Scratchley in Newcastle is a 19th century coastal defence battery which now operates as a museum.

DID YOU KNOW?

Fort Scratchley in Newcastle is a 19th century coastal defence battery and the only coastal battery in Australia to have opened fire on the enemy during World War Two.

The site upon which Fort Scratchley stands was originally an early coal mine and indeed one of the earliest such mines in Australia, being in operation from around 1801. The first defensive battery to be constructed here was an earthern battery named Fort Battlesticks, which was in place by 1928. However, the need for more robust coastal defence led to the construction of far more permanent fortifications, including Fort Scratchley, from 1876 to 1886. The fort was named for the British officer who oversaw the build, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Scratchley.

Over several decades the fort was upgraded and renovated several times, to ensure it was militarily viable. However, the fort would only open fire in aggression once, on the night of 7-8 June 1942, when the fort's six-inch guns fired two salvoes at a Japanese submarine which had bombarded Newcastle. After the war the fort operated for several more years before being decommissioned in 1962 and closed ten years later. It now operates as a museum.

Today visitors to Fort Scratchley can explore the history of this coastal fortification as well as taking in the spectacular views on offer from this commanding position. Visitors can explore at their own pace or join one of the guided tours which go deeper into the facility.

Fort Vallorbe

Fort Vallorbe was a WWII artillery fort which had great strategic importance defending the Col de Jougne Pass as well as the Swiss-French border.

DID YOU KNOW?

Fort Vallorbe was a World War II artillery fort which had great strategic importance defending the Col de Jougne Pass as well as the Swiss-French border.

Construction of Fort Vallorbe, also known as Fortress Vallorbe and the Pre-Giroud Military Fort, began in 1937 and was completed in 1941. Above ground, all that is seen of Fort Vallorbe are three buildings, but underneath is another story.

Hewn out of the surrounding rock, Fort Vallorbe was built into a network of underground tunnels including accommodation, a hospital and munitions storage, all with air filtration. Indeed, these self-sufficient bunkers accommodated up to 200 men in 1945. These can be visited during the summer, with a variety of exhibits about Fort Vallorbe, its past and, for the military history buff, its weaponry including missile launchers, machine guns and cannons. Just remember to dress up warmly, even in the heat, as it can get quite cold within the fort itself.

Photo by Boonerator (cc)

Frihedsmuseet

Frihedsmuseet in Copenhagen is a museum of the history of the Danish resistance during the Nazi occupation during World War Two.

DID YOU KNOW?

Frihedsmuseet or “The Museum of Danish Resistance” is a museum in Copenhagen dedicated to the Danish Resistance movement against Nazi occupation from 1940 to 1945. PLEASE NOTE: The current information on the official website states that the museum is currently closed. 

Starting with an original armoured car belonging to the resistance displayed outside its entrance, Frihedsmuseet creates a compelling narrative of the events of the war and the efforts of this movement.

From home-made weapons and photographs of resistance fighters who died for their cause, Frihedsmuseet explores the events of the Resistance through original artefacts, documents and films.

There is also an exhibition relating to how the Resistance undertook the covert evacuation of Denmark’s Jewish population to Sweden and, conversely, another exhibit about Denmark’s cooperation with the Germans.

All of the exhibits in Frihedsmuseet’s chronological display are available in Danish and in English. This site features as one of our most recommended visitor attractions in Denmark.

The Museum is currently closed due to a fire in the spring of 2013 and is due to reopen in 2018.

 

General Patton Memorial Museum - Ettelbruck

The General Patton Memorial Museum in Ettelbruck is a World War II museum focusing on the German invasion of Luxembourg.

DID YOU KNOW?

The General Patton Memorial Museum in Ettelbruck is a World War II museum focusing on the German invasion of Luxembourg in 1940 and its subsequent liberation by US troops in 1944.

With a range of weapons, equipment, information boards and over a thousand documents and photos, the General Patton Memorial Museum chronicles this episode in history. The museum’s namesake is General George S. Patton Jr., the commander who led the 3rd U.S. Army in freeing Luxembourg.

German El Alamein Cemetery

The German El Alamein Cemetery is the burial place of those German soldiers who died in the Battle of El Alamein.

DID YOU KNOW?

The German El Alamein Cemetery is the final resting place of 4,200 German soldiers who died in the Battle of El Alamein. This battle, part of the World War II North Africa Campaign, took place in 1942 and was a major victory for the Allies against the German and Italian forces, ending their presence in Egypt.

The German El Alamein Cemetery is quite different from the other cemeteries in the area as it is built to look like a fortress.

Photo by dionhinchcliffe (cc)

German Resistance Memorial Centre

The German Resistance Memorial Centre in Berlin commemorates those who rose up against the Nazis, particularly in the July 20 Plot.

DID YOU KNOW?

The German Resistance Memorial Centre or “Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand” in Berlin in Germany is a monument and museum to those who fought against the National Socialist government led by Adolf Hitler – the Nazis – before and during World War II. In particular, it commemorates the attempted assassination of Hitler and subsequent attempted coup led by Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg on 20 July 1944, the so-called “July 20 Plot”.

The July 20 Plot
Together with a group of civilians and military personnel led by General Friedrich Olbricht, Stauffenberg developed a plot to assassinate Hitler. On 20 July 1944, he successfully detonated the bomb at Hitler’s headquarters, known as the Wolf’s Lair. At first, Stauffenberg was convinced the plan had worked and went on to try and achieve a coup in Berlin, desperately trying to convince others that the Fuhrer was dead. However Hitler had actually survived and, by the end of the day, Stauffenberg and most of his counterparts were arrested as news of this filtered through. This event was made into the 2008 film “Valkyrie” starring Tom Cruise.

The Centre
The German Resistance Memorial Centre is located in the former Bendler Block in Berlin’s Mitte district, once the diplomatic quarter. As the headquarters of the Army High Command under Nazi rule, this was both the site where the July 20 Plot was planned and where its members were executed by firing squad.

Today, the German Resistance Memorial is located on a street formerly called Bendlerstrasse and now renamed “Stauffenbergstrasse”. The courtyard of the German Resistance Memorial Centre, where the executions took place, has a memorial statue. This bronze statue depicts a man with bound hands.

The German Resistance Memorial Centre Museum explores not only the July 20 Plot, but the whole issue of resistance, especially against National Socialism, but also in a wider context. Displaying thousands of documents and photographs, this exhibit offers an interesting insight into different elements and examples of resistance throughout history.

However, the focus of the German Resistance Memorial Centre Museum is the history of opposition to Nazi Germany, including the events in which National Socialism flourished and the attempts made to overthrow it. There are audio guides to the site and guided tours take place weekends at 3pm.

Photo by santanartist (cc)

Gold Beach Museum

The Gold Beach Museum tells the story of one of the D-Day Landings.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Gold Beach Museum, known as Musee America - Gold Beach, chronicles the landings of the 69th Brigade of the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division in Normandy on 6 June 1944 – D-Day - as part of Operation Gold Beach.

Led by Major General Douglas Alexander Graham and supported by the 79th (Armoured) Division, these troops succeeded in storming one of the central beaches of the Normandy Landings.

The Gold Beach Museum tells the story of this victorious attack as well as the intelligence operation behind it. Guided tours of the Gold Beach Museum are available, but must be booked in advance for an added fee.

Photo by Historvius

Green House

The Green House looks at life and history of Lithuania’s Jewish community and the devastating effects of the Holocaust.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Holocaust exhibition, which is also called “Green House”, is located near the center of Vilnius at Pamenkalnio str. 12. It is one branch of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum.

The seven rooms of the museum tell the story of the once flourishing Jewish community in Lithuania (“Litvak” community) from the times of the grand duchy of Lithuania, until their tragic death in the 20th century. The main focus of the exhibition is on the Holocaust.

Renovated in 2010, the whole exhibition is in English and Lithuanian and includes many new documents, new exhibits and audio-visual material, such as testimonies.

For further information please visit the museum’s homepage: www.jmuseum.lt

Photo by Stubacca (cc)

Grey Point Fort

Grey Point Fort is a WWI era coastal defence battery and one of the best preserved early 20th century coastal forts anywhere in the British Isles.

DID YOU KNOW?

Grey Point Fort is a coastal defence battery designed to defend the entrance to Belfast Lough which now houses a museum focusing on military history.

Built in 1904 and operational in both World Wars, Grey Point Fort originally housed a number of large-calibre coastal guns designed to protect against naval attack.

Throughout World War Two the complex was used as the coastal defence headquarters for Northern Ireland. Though it never saw action in a military engagement, legend states that during a test-firing of its two six inch guns a cow was killed on the Antrim side.

For the past three years Grey Point Fort has undergone a restoration project run by volunteers and it now houses the Military Memorabilia Museum as well as a unique WW2 Military Radio Museum, built up by amateur radio enthusiasts and funded by donations from the public and old soldiers.

The museums contain a fascinating collection of military memorabilia as well as historic military radio equipment such as Morse code telegraphic kits and an original a Bletchley Park receiver.

Today, as well as the museums, visitors can still explore the massive gun emplacements and the guns themselves – sadly not the originals – while also exploring the other areas of the battery, such as the fort's observation posts. A useful map of the site can be found here.

It is thought that Grey Point is one of the best preserved 20th century coastal defence forts anywhere in the British Isles and is unique to Northern Ireland.

Photo by nagerw (cc)

Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz

Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz was the site where the Nazis planned the extermination of the Jews known as the Holocaust.

DID YOU KNOW?

Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz was the site of the infamous Wannsee Conference in which the Nazis planned how to carry out the “Final Solution”, the plan to murder the Jewish population of Eastern Europe.

On 20 January 1942, fifteen senior members of the Nazi government and of the SS met at Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz. Chaired by the head of the Reich Security Main Office Reinhard Heydrich,, this group of men determined the course of the genocide of the Jewish people in Europe which would come to be known as the Holocaust.

Instigated by leader of the Nazis, Adolf Hitler, the Holocaust would see over six million Jews murdered as well as members of other minorities, homosexuals, handicapped people and anyone else considered by the Nazis to be “racially inferior”.

Today, Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz provides a moving memorial to the Holocaust as well as an in-depth history of the rise of the Nazi party, the growth of anti-Semitism and the atrocities committed against the Jews.

Photo by simononly (cc)

HMS Belfast

HMS Belfast is a Royal Navy light cruiser ship that played a role in both World War Two and the Korean War.

DID YOU KNOW?

HMS Belfast is a Royal Navy light cruiser ship that played a role in both World War II and the Korean War. It is now open to the public in London under the remit of the Imperial War Museum.

Launched in March 1938, HMS Belfast was commissioned by the Royal Navy in 1939, not long before the outbreak of World War II.

World War II
During the war, HMS Belfast took part in the blockade on Germany, patrolling northern waters from the Scapa Flow naval base in Orkney. Having managed to intercept SS Cap Norte - a German liner - in 1939, HMS Belfast was then severely damaged by a mine later that same year.

For almost three years, HMS Belfast would not sail as part of the fleet again, yet during this time, the ship was overhauled and massively upgraded. In fact, when she returned to the action in 1943, HMS Belfast was one of the Navy’s most formidable vessels and certainly its largest. As such, she was designated the flagship of the Tenth Cruiser Squadron, which protected Arctic convoys travelling to the Soviet Union.

Some of the most important successes of HMS Belfast was its contribution to the sinking of the German battle cruiser Scharnhorst during the Battle of the North Cape in December 1943, its assistance in disabling the German’s last heavy surface unit, Tirpitz, in 1944 and its part in ‘Operation 'Neptune', the naval element of the Normandy Landings of D-Day, also in 1944.

End of World War II
At the end of and after the Second World War, HMS Belfast carried out several roles in the Far East, including helping to evacuate prisoners from internment camps and taking part in peace keeping missions.

Korean War And After
HMS Belfast’s next wartime role would occur in the 1950s, during the Korean War, where she was one of the first ships to go into action to support American and South Korean Troops. This gruelling undertaking would end on 27 September 1952, after which HMS Belfast was involved in a few peacetime missions before finally being taken to London in 1971.

Photo by pterjan (cc)

House of Terror

The House of Terror is a moving museum about the two extreme regimes which successively ruled Hungary in the twentieth century.

DID YOU KNOW?

The House of Terror (Terror Haza) is a moving memorial to and museum about the two extreme regimes which successively ruled Hungary in the twentieth century.

From 1937, the building of the House of Terror slowly became the headquarters of the pro-Nazi Hungarian Arrow Cross Party. When the party took power in 1944, the House of Terror, then known as the House of Loyalty, was used as a prison. Victims, many of whom were Jewish, were tortured and executed.

Even once the Nazis had left Hungary, The House of Terror maintained its notoriety and brutal reputation as the prison and headquarters of the Soviet Political Police. It remained as such until 1956, when evidence of the horrors inflicted within its walls were erased and, the building of the House of Terror later became offices.

Today, the House of Terror stands in commemoration of its horrific past, with exhibitions about its history, that of its owners and its victims. The House of Terror is located within Budapest’s UNESCO World Heritage listing area.

Photo by _dChris (cc)

Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum is a London-based museum dedicated to world conflict.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Imperial War Museum is dedicated to exploring worldwide conflicts throughout history. The exhibitions in the London Imperial War Museum cover, amongst other things, different aspects of the First and Second World Wars including military history, the Holocaust, women’s roles in the conflicts, wartime artwork and the political issues of the time.

The Imperial War Museum is particularly child-friendly, with temporary exhibitions such as a reconstruction of a World War I trench.

Photo by Dave Hamster (cc)

Imperial War Museum Duxford

Duxford Imperial War Museum in Cambridge explores military history on land, by air and by sea.

DID YOU KNOW?

Duxford Imperial War Museum in Cambridge is dedicated to exploring Britain’s military history, particularly as it relates to air and maritime warfare.

Duxford Imperial War Museum is fittingly located at Duxford Airfield, one of the best preserved First World War airfields. Most of the exhibits at the Duxford Imperial War Museum are contained in hangars, with each hangar exploring a different aspect of military history. For example, hangar 1 tells the story of British and Commonwealth aviation history, hangar 2 is a “flying museum” where operating aircraft are held and maintained and hangar 3 holds a maritime collection.

There is also an American Air Museum, exhibiting various battle aircrafts from the US. Duxford Imperial War Museum’s fourth hangar is dedicated to the Battle of Britain, a famous air battle in World War II.

Photo by Giorgio Montersino (cc)

Italian El Alamein Memorial

The Italian El Alamein Memorial commemorates the Italian casualties of the World War Two Battle of El Alamein.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Italian El Alamein Memorial or ‘Sacrario italiano a El Alamein’ is a white octagonal monument to the 4,800 Italian soldiers who died in the 1942 Battle of El Alamein and those approximately 38,000 missing. There is also a nearby chapel.

Photo by Smart Destinations (cc)

Japanese American National Museum

The Japanese American National Museum is a museum of the history, culture and heritage of Japanese Americans.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Japanese American National Museum is a museum of the history, culture and heritage of Japanese Americans.

Whilst it has several temporary and travelling exhibits, the main exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum is called "Common Ground". This tells the story of 130 years of the history, from the treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II back to the days of early immigration.

From objects and artefacts to photos, documents and videos, the Japanese American National Museum displays an interesting collection.

Photo by Lauren Manning (cc)

Jewish Museum - Berlin

The Jewish Museum in Berlin explores the history of Germany’s Jewish community.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Jewish Museum in Berlin in Germany chronicles the history of German Jews over the course of two millennia. Housed in an incredibly modern building, the Berlin Jewish Museum displays historical objects, documents, photographs, multimedia presentations and even computer games relating to different periods of Jewish history and culture.

The exhibitions at the Jewish Museum in Berlin are arranged chronologically and cover various themes such as the living conditions of German Jews over the centuries, the role of Jewish women, tradition and change and the meaning of emancipation.

The Berlin Jewish Museum also looks at the issue of persecution, in particular during the Nazi era and the Holocaust, offering an insight into both the overall historical context and the lives of individual victims of the atrocities.

Photo by discosour (cc)

Kastellet

Kastellet in Copenhagen is a seventeenth century fort used by the Germans during the Second World War.

DID YOU KNOW?

Kastellet in Copenhagen was constructed in 1663 under King Frederik III, after the original fort on the site was compromised by a Swedish attack in 1658. It was partially rebuilt again in the nineteenth century when the distinctively star-shaped building, flanked by a moat, served as a prison.

During the Second World War, Kastellet was used as a base by German forces whilst they occupied Copenhagen.

Today, still in a great state of preservation, Kastellet is a military base. Its grounds have been turned into a park, which is open to the public, although there is no access to the inside of the fortification.

Photo by rs-foto (cc)

Konigstein Fortress

Konigstein Fortress in Dresden has been everything from a stronghold to a WW2 prisoner of war camp.

DID YOU KNOW?

Konigstein Fortress or Festung Königstein is a famous fortified structure near Dresden, Germany which has never been taken. It is unclear when Konigstein Fortress was first constructed, but mentions of a castle on the site go back to 1233.

As a castle, Konigstein was used as a stronghold and a sixteenth century monastery before Elector Christian I converted it into a fortress in 1589. It then served as a prison until Napoleon’s conquest of Prussia when it became a fortress of the Confederation of the Rhine.

Konigstein Fortress continued to be used for various other purposes over the centuries, being everything from a retreat for soldiers to a hiding place for the Saxon royal family. During both World War I and World War II it was used as a prisoner of war camp.

Today, Konigstein Fortress is a museum, showing the history of the site throughout its existence. Guided tours are offered for an added fee and audio guides are also available to rent in eight languages.

Photo by muppetspanker (cc)

Krakow Ghetto Wall

Krakow Ghetto Wall is the last remaining wall of the Krakow Jewish ghetto created by the Nazis in during their occupation of Poland in World War II.

DID YOU KNOW?

Krakow Ghetto Wall is a stark reminder of the Krakow Ghetto, established by German Nazi forces in March 1941 as part of their campaign to persecute the Jews. Much of the Jewish population had already been conscripted to carry out forced labour since 1939, when the Nazis occupied Poland.

Further forms of discriminatory sanctions were employed, including forcing those of Jewish descent to wear armbands and closing all synagogues. However, when the Krakow Ghetto was created in the district of Podgórze, the occupying army took their campaign a step further, moving 15,000 Jewish Poles into an area that had previously housed just 3,000 residents.

Conditions were dire within the confines of the Krakow Ghetto walls and, as well as operating as a holding place in which to categorise Jews according to whether they were fit to work, it was also a form of oppression. In 1942, Krakow Ghetto was closed and all of its inhabitants were sent to concentration camps.

Some inhabitants of Krakow Ghetto were saved during the War by Oskar Schindler, whose famous Schindler’s List was made into a film by Hollywood director, Stephen Spielberg. His factory is nearby. Another famous movie director, Roman Polański is a survivor of Krakow Ghetto.

The Ghetto Wall, flanked by a former ghetto home, is the last remaining wall of those which once bordered Krakow Ghetto. The Ghetto Wall bears a plaque commemorating Krakow Ghetto.

Photo by edwin.11 (cc)

Kranji War Cemetery

Kranji War Cemetery is a veterans’ cemetery and the burial place of two of Singapore’s presidents.

DID YOU KNOW?

Kranji War Cemetery was founded as a hospital burial place during the Japanese occupation of Singapore in World War II. Following the war, it became a veterans’ cemetery and today Kranji War Cemetery in the northern Singapore region of Kranji is home to 4,458 marked graves.

These graves belong to the service men and women who fought for Singapore’s freedom in World War II, of which almost nine hundred are unidentified. Kranji War Cemetery is also home to 64 World War I graves, many of which were actually moved to Kranji War Cemetery at a later date. For example, three of the World War I memorials are for soldiers who were buried in Singapore and Saigon, but whose grave have never been found.

Kranji War Cemetery is also the resting place of some of Singapore’s presidents including its first two presidents, Inche Yusuf bin Ishak and Benjamin Henry Sheares. Kranji War Cemetery sits beside the Kranji War Memorial, dedicated to those who fought for Singapore in World War II.

Photo by Pekka Tamminen (cc)

Kranji War Memorial

Kranji War Memorial is a monument commemorating soldiers who died in WW2.

DID YOU KNOW?

Kranji War Memorial (Tanah Perkuburan Perang Kranji) is a monument in the northern Singapore region of Kranji in honour of the men and women who lost their lives defending Singapore from Japanese invasion during World War II.

Made up of twelve columns, representing the formation in which the military marches, a wing-shaped roof representing the air force and crowned with a wall which portrays the periscope in dedication to the navy, the Kranji War Memorial is a fitting commemoration of all three branches of the armies who fought for Singapore’s freedom. In fact, soldiers from numerous countries fought for this cause, including those from Britain, Sri Lanka, India, Australia, Canada, Malaya, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

The approximately 24,300 names inscribed on the columns of Kranji War Memorial are those of the soldiers from all of those countries whose bodies were never found together with the words “They died for all free men”.

Kranji War Memorial is a beautiful yet haunting reminder of Singapore and neighbours the Kranji War Cemetery.

Photo by Historvius

Kristiansand Canon Museum

A huge defence battery in Norway, built by the Germans in 1941, the Kristiansand Canon Museum contains one of the largest land-based guns in the world.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Kristiansand Canon Museum stands at the site of the Møvik Fort, a huge defence battery built by the Germans during their occupation of Norway and Denmark in WWII. Today the site operates as a museum and contains one of the largest land-based guns in the world.

Construction of this fortified stronghold began in 1941 and it took several years for the entire complex to be completed. It was built in a position of great strategic value, with the intention being to block the Skagerrak strait and the seaways of Eastern Norway and close these routes to the Allies.

Originally these coastal defences – called Batterie Vara by the Germans - contained four massive guns; however, only one survives at the Kristiansand Canon Museum today. The gun’s barrel is almost 20 metres long and it weighs a hefty 110 tonnes. As well as the main batteries, Møvik Fort contained sixteen smaller guns and several bunkers, fortified tunnels and a military barracks.

After the war the Norwegians operated the site until it was closed in 1959 and much of the equipment was sold off as scrap, including the three other guns. After restoration work in the 1990s the fort was opened as the Kristiansand Canon Museum in 1993.

Today visitors to the site can explore the wider complex, delve into bunkers and tunnels and of course see the main gun itself, still in its original casement. The ‘Fortress Trail’ guides people around the complex and includes a number of exhibitions explaining the history and operation of the stronghold.

Kvalvik Fort

Kvalvik Fort is a well preserved World War II fort and onetime submarine station in Norway.

DID YOU KNOW?

Kvalvik Fort is a well preserved World War II fort and onetime submarine station in Norway. In fact, Kvalvik Fort is considered to be one of the best kept fortifications of its kind.

Open to the public, Kvalvik Fort has a range of items and weapons on display with plenty of information on its history.

Photo by Philos8 (cc)

KZ Majdanek

KZ Majdanek was a Nazi concentration camp near Lublin in Poland, operational from 1941 to 1944.

DID YOU KNOW?

KZ Majdanek was a Nazi concentration camp established near the city of Lublin in Poland in September 1941. From October 1941, KZ Majdanek began accepting prisoners, most of whom were Polish and other European Jews as well as Soviet prisoners of war. By the end of its period of operation, almost thirty nations would be represented within Majdanek’s barbed wire fences.

Those sent to KZ Majdanek were subject to the worst forms of treatment, including starvation, forced labour, malnutrition and random executions. Death from disease and starvation were not uncommon and the Nazis would take to shooting large groups of prisoners into vast pits. KZ Majdanek was also used as an extermination camp, with gas chambers and two crematoriums in which to kill victims and destroy their bodies.

Overall, by the time it was liberated by Soviet soldiers in 1944, 150,000 people had been incarcerated at KZ Majdanek. According to the latest figures, 78,000 people died at KZ Majdanek, of which 60,000 were Jews.

KZ Majdanek was liberated by Soviet soldiers on 23 July 1944. With its location relatively near to the Russian border, much of the camp remained intact upon its dissolution, the Nazis not having enough time to destroy any evidence.

Today, KZ Majdanek stands as a memorial to those who suffered and perished there. Visitors can see the camp as well as the visitor centre, which houses exhibits and information about the site.

Lascaris War Rooms

War Headquarters from where the defence of Malta and the invasion of Sicily were conducted during the Second World War.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Lascaris War Rooms in Malta were important military headquarters during World War II and the setting from which the invasion of Sicily as well as many other operations and Malta’s air defences were coordinated. Located underground and comprised of a complicated web of tunnels, the existence of the Lascaris War Rooms was secret.

A Royal Navy base for years after the war, in the 1960s the Lascaris War Rooms became a strategic communication centre for NATO. Since 2009 it has been under the management of the Malta Heritage Trust and is now a popular tourist site.

Photo by Geert Orye (cc)

Le Memorial at Caen

Le Memorial at Caen is a history museum dedicated to World War Two and other conflicts.

DID YOU KNOW?

Le Memorial at Caen is a museum of history based in northern France, not too far from the locations of the beaches where the Normandy Landings took place. Le Memorial at Caen explores the events which led up to the Normandy Landings of World War II, the Landings themselves, also known as D-Day, and the aftermath.

Le Memorial at Caen also offers day trips and longer guided tours around the sites of the Normandy Landings, which start at Caen Railway Station. Beyond its Second World War exhibits, Le Memorial at Caen also looks at the Cold War and beyond, exploring the concept of peace in the context of different conflicts.

Photo by nicknich4 (cc)

Leyte Landing Memorial

The Leyte Landing Memorial commemorates a vital point in the World War II Battle of Leyte, when American forces landed.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Leyte Landing Memorial commemorates a vital point in the World War II Battle of Leyte, when American forces landed. Indeed, the Leyte Landing Memorial is located at the very place where General Douglas MacArthur led American liberation troops onto Red Beach in Palo in the Philippines.

Part of the Pacific campaign of the war, the Battle of Leyte began on 17 October 1944 and saw American and Australian troops work together with Filipino guerrilla forces to invade and capture this area from the Japanese.

Today, the Leyte Landing Memorial dramatically depicts the moment on 20 October 1944 that General MacArthur waded through the water with his men. It is part of the Leyte Landing Memorial Park, also known as MacArthur Memorial Park.

The Battle of Leyte is also linked to the famous naval clash known as the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which took place in the nearby waters. This is commemorated in San Diego in the United States, at the Battle of Leyte Gulf Memorial.

Photo by IvanWalsh.com (cc)

Longhua Martyrs Cemetery

The Longhua Martyrs Cemetery commemorates those communists who died under the Kuomintang and was a WWII Japanese internment camp.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Longhua Martyrs Cemetery in Shanghai is a memorial to those who died under the regime of the Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-shek.

In the 1920’s and 1930’s, the site of the Longhua Martyrs Cemetery was a Kuomintang prison where hundreds of communists were executed in an attempt to obliterate the communist movement. It is a memorial to the fight for communism prior to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

In addition to various sculptures and a Memorial Hall, the cemetery sits on the location of the actual execution ground and visitors can also view the prison itself.

During World War II (the Second Sino-Japanese War in the region), the site of the Longhua Martyrs Cemetery was a vast Japanese internment camp. Prisoners included many westerners as depicted in the film Empire of the Sun.

Photo by Gilles Messian (cc)

Longues-sur-Mer Gun Battery

The Longues-sur-Mer Gun Battery was a World War II German defensive battery.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Longues-sur-Mer Gun Battery, also known as ‘Batterie Allemande’, was a German defensive battery in Normandy which played a big part in the German defence efforts during the Normandy Landings on D-Day, 6 June 1944.

Made up of four 150mm guns, the Longues-sur-Mer Gun Battery is located between the vital allied landing beaches of Gold and Omaha. It was captured by the British 231st Division.

Today, the Longues-sur-Mer Gun Battery is open to the public.

Photo by yeowatzup (cc)

Luxembourg National Museum of Military History

The Luxembourg National Museum of Military History focuses particularly on the WW2 conflict known as the Battle of the Bulge.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Luxembourg National Museum of Military History (Musee National d'Histoire Militaire) in Diekirch focuses particularly on the World War II conflict known as the Battle of the Bulge.

Using a combination of life-size dioramas and its comprehensive collection of US and national items, weapons, equipment, photos and maps, the Luxembourg National Museum of Military History offers an insight into both the military and civilian aspects of this battle.

In addition to this main exhibit, the Luxembourg National Museum of Military History also offers up a more general history of its army.

Those who want to explore more about the Battle of the Bulge can also use the Luxembourg National Museum of Military History as a starting off point as it has information on local tours and trails.

Malta at War Museum

It stands to document for posterity the great ordeal which the brave people of Malta and their defenders endured during the dark days of the Blitz

DID YOU KNOW?

The Malta at War Museum looks at the Second World War period in Malta, offering visitors a fascinating insight into the history of the country during this period and the experiences of its people, particularly in the Blitz. There is also the opportunity to enter a subterranean bomb shelter.

Photo by BBM Explorer (cc)

Mamayev Hill

Mamayev Hill in Russia is a dramatic memorial to the Battle of Stalingrad of World War II.

DID YOU KNOW?

Mamayev Hill or “Mamayev Kurgan” in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) in Russia is a memorial complex dedicated to the Battle of Stalingrad. This battle was considered to be a defining moment in World War II in which the Russians defeated German forces, turning the tide of the war and starting a chain of events which would lead to the downfall of the Axis powers.

Mamayev Hill in Volgograd was a vital stronghold during the battle. Known in military circles as Height 103.0, having control of Mamayev Hill was seen as controlling the city.

Today, Mamayev Hill is dominated by a dramatic 300-foot statue entitled “The Motherland Calls”. At the time of its creation, this dramatic depiction of a woman wielding a sword was the tallest statue in the world. Some news reports have now said that this statue is in danger of collapsing.

Several other sculptures dot the Mamayev Hill memorial complex, which includes a military cemetery housing the graves of over 600 soldiers (109 of whom are identified).

Mauthausen Concentration Camp

Mauthausen Concentration Camp was a notorious Nazi internment camp in northern Austria.

DID YOU KNOW?

Mauthausen Concentration Camp or ’KZ Mauthausen’ was a vast Nazi concentration camp in northern Austria. First established in 1938, Mauthausen Concentration Camp was built through the slave labour of prisoners from another such camp, Dachau. Over time, it grew to encompass a number of sub-camps, such as Gusen Concentration Camp.

Prisoners at Mauthausen Concentration Camp included those labelled as criminals, but were mainly comprised of anyone opposed to the Nazi regime, especially on a political or ideological basis. At a later stage, large numbers of Jews from concentration camps like Auschwitz were also transported there.

Like in all such Nazi camps, prisoners at Mauthausen were subject to numerous ongoing atrocities, such as starvation, torture, overcrowding and slave labour. Inmates at Mauthausen Concentration Camp were quite literally worked to death in the camp’s quarries and munitions factories, while the Nazis reaped the financial benefits of their work. Those who didn’t perish as a result of hard labour were liable to die of disease, malnourishment or to be killed in gas chambers.

Over 119,000 of the almost 200,000 prisoners at Mauthausen Concentration Camp had died there by the time it was liberated by American forces on 5 May 1945.

Today, Mauthausen Concentration Camp is open to the public, who can see the original camp and the terrible conditions to which prisoners were subjected. There is a visitor centre and many memorials to the different national, ethnic and religious groups who suffered at Mauthausen.

Memorial des Camps de la Mort

The Memorial des Camps de la Mort commemorates the suffering of those persecuted by the Nazis in Marseille during World War Two.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Memorial des Camps de la Mort in Marseille is a Holocaust memorial and museum which commemorates the Nazi occupation of the city during World War II between November 1942 and August 1944.

During this time, the Jews of Marseille were transported out of the city and into concentration and extermination camps.

The Memorial des Camps de la Mort chronicles this tragic period of history, with moving testimony from concentration camp prisoners and witness accounts detailing the bombing and occupation of Marseille, the persecution of the Jews and the resistance movement. Photographs and information panels are also on display.

Mgarr Second World War Shelter

The Mgarr Second World War Shelter in Malta is one of the largest of its Second World War bomb shelters.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Mgarr Second World War Shelter in Malta was one of a number of subterranean bomb shelters used by the population during the Siege of Malta.

The Siege of Malta saw the island of Malta being subjected to an intensive aerial bombing campaign by the Italians and then the German Luftwaffe from 1940 to 1943. The main reason for this was that Malta was a vitally important strategic location for the British and held several airfields, thus becoming a target. In 1942, Malta received the George Cross for its citizens’ bravery during this period.

The Mgarr Second World War Shelter is one of the largest shelters of its kind and, since being found underneath a restaurant, has been restored. Today, the Mgarr Second World War Shelter is open to the public, who can tour its underground passageways and learn about the Maltese experience during the war.

Photo by stephanemartin (cc)

Mont Orgueil

Mont Orgueil is a medieval castle with an historic role in the defence of Jersey as well as having been a prison and a German base.

DID YOU KNOW?

Mont Orgueil (Gorey Castle) has had an important historic role in the defence of Jersey as well as having been a prison and a German World War II base.

Medieval Castle
Construction of Mont Orgueil can be traced back to circa 1204, at around the time that the French King Phillip II Augustus took Normandy from King John of England. Prior to this, Jersey and the rest of the Channel Islands had been part of Normandy, but they remained loyal to the Crown, immediately becoming of vital strategic importance. Thus, the building of Mont Orgueil was part of a campaign by the English king to defend this territory.

Vital Stronghold

Mont Orgueil would retain its defensive importance for centuries and would be added to over this time, to create a series of “wards” or sections each enclosed in the next and protecting a central keep. The remains of these can be seen today. However, the advent of cannons and guns meant that Mont Orgueil lost much of its significance as a stronghold and, despite refortification in the 16th century, it would never really regain its military might. Indeed, at one point, it was only the intervention of Sir Walter Raleigh that prevented the demolition of Mont Orgueil.

Later Use
One use for the castle was as a prison, a role which it continued to play until the 17th century. Having acted as an observation post in the First World War, during World War II, Mont Orgueil took on yet another guise as a German military base, at the time when the Channel Islands were captured by the Germans.

Today
Mont Orgueil is now open to the public with a museum and plenty of information on its history and that of the island.

It is located in a beautiful setting located on the eastern end of Jersey above a charming village. The tides are high here and when they come in all the boats in the harbor are stranded and lie sideways! It is possible to rent a bicycle for an easy ride around the area.

Photo by jennystyles315 (cc)

Monte Cassino War Cemetery

Monte Cassino War Cemetery is the biggest British and Commonwealth war cemetery from WW2 in Italy.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Monte Cassino War Cemetery is the burial site for thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers who died during the Italian Campaign in World War Two. Also on the site stands a memorial to those soldiers whose graves are not known.

The Battle of Monte Cassino was part of the Italian Campaign, which saw Allied landings in Italy in September 1943, followed by rapid progress through the south of the country. However, the strong German fortifications known as the Gustav Line, soon blocked the Allied advance.

To progress, the Allies undertook fresh landings at Anzio in January 1944 but again progress proved difficult. After several costly assaults, the town of Cassino - which saw some of the fiercest fighting - was eventually captured and the defences breached.

Today the Monte Cassino War Cemetery and Memorial remembers the British and Commonwealth servicemen who died in this costly battle.

Photo by Gilles Messian (cc)

Musee Airborne

Musee Airborne is a World War Two museum dedicated to the Normandy Landings of 1944.

DID YOU KNOW?

Musee Airborne in St-Mère-Eglise in Northern France is dedicated to the role played by the American 82nd and 101st airborne divisions during the Normandy Landings of World War Two or "D-Day".

Taking place in June 1944, the Normandy Landings were a collaborative effort between British, American and Canadian troops, who launched a massive attack by air, land and sea to capture German occupied Europe in an operation known as Overlord.

St-Mère-Eglise was the site where American paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st airborne divisions landed between 5 and 6 June 1944 and is today the home of Musee Airborne.

Comprised of three main buildings, one of which is shaped like a parachute, Musee Airborne, also known as St-Mère-Eglise Airborne Museum, houses original aircraft from the Normandy landings, including a Waco Glider and the Douglas C-47 plane Argonia together with weaponry, photographs, documentation and a film about the landings.

Musee Airborne also explores the personal stories of the soldiers who took part in these operations.

Musee de la Reddition

Musee de la Reddition is the site where Germany surrendered in World War II.

DID YOU KNOW?

Musee de la Reddition (Museum of the Surrender) in Reims is the location where the German Third Reich officially surrendered to Allied forces in World War II.

At the time, the building of Musee de la Reddition, once a school, acted as the European headquarters of US General Dwight D Eisenhower (later President Eisenhower). The surrender, which occurred in the early hours of 7 May 1945, took place in the war room of Eisenhower’s headquarters, which were often known by the abbreviation of SHAEF.

Today, visitors to Musee de la Reddition can see the actual table where terms of surrender were agreed, with its contents seemingly frozen in time. Even the maps which crowded the room’s walls are still in place.

Beyond its star attraction, Musee de la Reddition also boasts further exhibits, mostly World War II uniforms, photographs and some weapons, but the main reason to visit is to see the site where the Allies officially won the war.

Photo by sludgegulper (cc)

Museum of the Slovak National Uprising

The Museum of the Slovak National Uprising is dedicated to the history of Slovakia's resistance against the Nazi government.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Museum of the Slovak National Uprising (Muzeum Slovenskeho narodneho povstania) is dedicated to the history of Slovakia's resistance against the Nazi government.

Before the outbreak of the Second World War, much of the western part of Czechoslovakia was annexed and then occupied by Nazi Germany, which then allowed the eastern part to become an "independent" country. Wartime Slovakia was a Nazi puppet state, led by Jozef Tiso.

In 1943 Edvard Benes, head of the Czechoslovak government in exile in London, began planning for an overthrow of the puppet government. On 29 August 1944 the Slovak National Uprising (Slovenskeho narodneho povstania or SNP in Slovak) began in Banksa Bystrica. The rebels included not only Slovaks, Czechs, Poles, and Hungarians, but fighters from as far away as Britain, Canada, and the United States. Although the uprising was ultimately unsuccessful, it remains an important part of Slovakia's history, and 29 August is celebrated as a national holiday.

The Museum of the Slovak National Uprising gives a comprehensive view of the conflict, including the political climate in Czechoslovakia and Slovakia at the beginning of the war, the different factions who opposed Nazi rule, and the stories of individual members of the rebel forces. It uses audiovisual displays as well as artifacts, and is presented fully in English as well as Slovak.

Outside the museum is a display of tanks, guns, and an airplane. This display is free, and open even when the museum is not.

Photo by taberandrew (cc)

National Museum of American Jewish Military History

The National Museum of American Jewish Military History is dedicated to exploring the roles of Jewish Americans in US military history.

DID YOU KNOW?

The National Museum of American Jewish Military History is dedicated to exploring the roles of Jewish Americans in US military history.

This includes their contributions in the armed forces and in the fight against prejudice, particularly anti-Semitism.

Amongst the galleries within the National Museum of American Jewish Military History is its hall of heroes with its stories of bravery by Jewish Americans together with artefacts such as medals of honour.

There are exhibits about specific heroes such as the American World War I spy Major General Julius L. Klein and more general exhibits, such as the one looking at the efforts of Jewish GIs in post Second World War Europe.

Photo by mat's eye (cc)

Normandy American Cemetery

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is a World War Two graveyard with a visitor centre.

DID YOU KNOW?

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is the burial site of 9,387 US military personnel who fought and died in World War Two. Most of the graves at the Normandy American Cemetery belong to participants in the Normandy Landings on 6 June 1944, also known as D-Day.

The Normandy Landings were a coordinated effort by the Allied forces to recapture European land taken by the Germans. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the Normandy Landings were a pivotal point in World War II, representing a significant victory for the Allies. However, this victory came at a high cost of life, a fact commemorated at Normandy American Cemetery.

Normandy American Cemetery has a visitor centre, several memorials including Tablets of the Missing and orientation tables showing the battles which took place in the area. The visitor centre is itself a useful historical guide, offering an insight into the Normandy Landings and the soldiers who took part in the attack. Guides are on hand to answer questions.

Norway Resistance Museum

The Norway Resistance Museum is dedicated to the country’s national history during World War Two.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Norway Resistance Museum (Norges Hjemmefrontmuseum) is dedicated to the country’s national history during World War II. In particular, it looks at the period of occupation between late 1930 and 1945, displaying a range of exhibits from original items and documents to posters, films to photos.

Omaha Beach Museum

The Omaha Beach Museum chronicles the events of the largest of the D-Day Landings in Normandy in WW2.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Omaha Beach Museum (Musee Memorial Omaha) tells the story of the D-Day Landings on Omaha Beach in Normandy on 6 June 1944 during World War II.

Spanning an area of 10km, the Omaha Beach assault was the largest of the Normandy Landings and included, amongst others, the US 29th Division, the 1st US Division (Big Red) and the US 2nd Division.

The Omaha Beach assault suffered several setbacks, including the fact that the area was unexpectedly well-defended by the Germans and that many soldiers did not land at their intended targets. Despite these setbacks, the allied troops managed to establish footholds in the German occupied territory, although they were unable to complete their ambitious mission targets.

Through a series of exhibits, including dioramas, military uniforms, testimonials and photographs, the Omaha Beach Museum traces the events of the assault on Omaha Beach and Pont Du Hoc.

Pegasus Bridge

Pegasus Bridge in Normandy was captured by British forces at the start of D-Day, the Allied invasion of France.

DID YOU KNOW?

Pegasus Bridge, originally known as Caen Canal Bridge, in Normandy, France, was a vital strategic position during Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of France.

On 6 June 1944, Allied forces landed on Normandy’s beaches, an event known as the Normandy Landings or “D-Day”.

Sword Beach was to be a landing point for British forces and, just to its east, was Pegasus Bridge, a small crossing over the Caen Canal. In order to protect the soldiers who would land at Sword Beach from German attack, a unit of the British 6th Airborne Division, led by Major John Howard, was tasked with capturing Pegasus Bridge.

They were also required to take the Merville gun battery in order to put it out of action. This would form part of Operation Tonga, in turn part of Operation Overlord.

On 5 June 1944, under cover of darkness, Major Howard and his men landed in gliders near Pegasus Bridge and proceeded to capture it intact within the staggeringly short time of ten minutes. This action was vitally important, preventing the possibility that German forces could attack the eastern flank of the soldiers arriving at Sword Beach.

The Merville gun battery and other bridges were also successfully taken by airborne forces. However, these victories came with heavy losses of around 2,000 men in all.

Caen Canal Bridge was renamed as Pegasus Bridge on 26 June 1944 after the winged horse emblem on the uniforms of the airborne division. The events at Pegasus Bridge and D-Day in general also inspired the 1961 film, “The Longest Day”.

There is currently a new bridge where Pegasus Bridge once stood, the original is now on display at the Pegasus Bridge Museum (just next to the bridge itself). There is also a plaque near the bridge setting out the events that occurred there.

Photo by Passion Leica (cc)

Pointe Du Hoc Memorial

The Pointe Du Hoc Memorial is located on one of the sites of the Normandy Landings of World War Two.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Pointe Du Hoc Memorial in Normandy, France commemorates the American Second Ranger Battalion who fought there on 6 June 1944 as part of the D-Day landings in World War II.

The D-Day attack was a pivotal offensive which allowed the Allies to gain a foothold in Nazi-occupied France and begin the process of liberating Western Europe.

Pointe Du Hoc overlooks Omaha Beach, which was a vital landing point for Allied troops during the D-Day operation. Led by Lieutenant Colonel James E. Rudder, the Second Ranger Battalion was tasked with capturing German artillery at Pointe Du Hoc to ensure the safety of the troops landing on the beaches below.

The Pointe Du Hoc Memorial is a large granite structure which stands at the edge of the 100-foot cliffs these Rangers had to scale to complete their dangerous mission. The Rangers succeeded in their task, but suffered significant causalities in the process.

Constructed by the French and now managed by the American Battle Monuments Commission, the Pointe Du Hoc Memorial is a reminder of the heroism of the Rangers and the forced involved in the Normandy landings.

The area surrounding the Pointe Du Hoc Memorial is also historically fascinating, littered by bomb craters, it is preserved in much the same state as it was immediately following D-Day.

Photo by Mr ATM (cc)

Porthcuno Telegraph Museum

The Porthcurno Telegraph Museum examines the history of telegraphic development as well as housing Britain’s vital WWII underground communications centre.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Porthcurno Telegraph Museum is a museum dedicated to the history of telegraphic development and is the site of one of the most historically important communications centres in the UK.

In what would become one of the most ground-breaking events in modern communications, the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cables were laid in the 1870s and came ashore in Porthcurno, as it is the westernmost point in Britain. It was a vital in keeping contact with other parts of the world.

The original cables used binary telegraphy and Porthcurno soon became the busiest (and probably the most important) communications station in the world. From its establishment in the 1870s to its closure in 1970, telegraphy underwent huge changes, and as technology evolved, so Porthcurno became redundant in its original purpose.

Cable and Wireless, who by this time owned the business in Porthcurno, made good use of the buildings as a training school for their workers from around the world. The museum was established when the college was moved in 1993.

One of the most spectacular aspects of the museum is the underground WWII tunnels, from where vital communications between Britain and her allies were run. These caves and tunnels have been left more or less as they were throughout WWII.

Overall, Porthcurno Telegraph Museum is a fascinating place to visit, and has a lot of interactive activities for children (and/or adults) as well as exhibitions on the development of modern communications technology, mobile phones and the internet.

You should allow no less than an hour and a half to explore it.

Photo by Wolfgang Staudt (cc)

Reichstag

The Reichstag Building was the seat of the German Government from 1894 to 1933 and is now the seat of the German Bundestag.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Reichstag Building started its life in 1894, when it served as the seat of the German Parliament, then known as the Reichstag. Designed by architect Paul Wallot during the reign of Emperor Wilhelm I, the Reichstag building contained several pioneering architectural elements, including a steel and glass copula which was the first of its kind.

Wilhelm I was succeeded by Wilhelm II by the time the Reichstag was completed in 1894 and, despite this new leader’s opposition to the institute of parliament, the Reichstag survived his reign and was the site where the politician Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed the institution of the German Weimar Republic in 1918. It served as such until 1933, when a fire tore through it, damaging it severely.  However, it was the socio-political consequences of this latter event which would have the most lasting effects.

The ruling National Socialist German Workers Party, the Nazis, blamed the fire on communist Marinus van der Lubbe and used the incident as an excuse to carry out a purge of any perceived traitors as well as banning the Communist Party altogether.

The Reichstag was heavily bombed during the Second World War and emerged as a ruin, the effects of which were exacerbated by its neglect during the Cold War. Whilst parts of the original Reichstag building, including its famous copula, were destroyed, it once again took centre stage in world politics on 3 October 1990, when it was the venue of the German Reunification Ceremony.

Reconstruction of the Reichstag followed and was completed in April 1999. It now houses the current German parliament, the Bundestag, and also acts as one of Germany’s most popular tourist attractions. Guided tours are available, but must be booked in writing well in advance.

Rimini Gurkha War Cemetery

The Rimini Gurkha War Cemetery is a World War II graveyard for Commonwealth forces in Rimini.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Rimini Gurkha War Cemetery in Italy is a World War II Commonwealth cemetery housing the graves of 618 soldiers from the Indian forces.

Rimini became the site of fierce clashes between Allied and German forces in 1944. By this time, Italy had entered into an armistice with the Allies (3 September 1943) and the aim was to push German forces out of the country. In the Rimini area, most of these troops came from the 4th and 10th Indian Divisions, later aided by the 3rd Greek Mountain Brigade.

The Rimini Gurkha War Cemetery is a collection of graves from battlefields around Rimini. It also contains the Rimini Cremation Memorial, erected in honour of cremated Indian soldiers, of whom it currently names 172 troops.

Photo by Mr ATM (cc)

Royal Navy Submarine Museum

Home of the WWII submarine HMS Alliance, the Royal Navy Submarine Museum is a family-orientated, interactive museum detailing the history of British submarine warfare.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Royal Navy Submarine Museum is located a stone’s throw away from the busy historic Portsmouth docks. As home to HMS Alliance and four other submarines including the Royal Navy’s first submarine, Holland I, the museum takes an interactive approach to history; visitors can walk in and around the five submarines, experiencing for themselves what life on one of the vessels would have been like during their deployment.

Five submarines make up the museum’s collection: Holland I, the first submarine commissioned by the Royal Navy in 1901; HMS X24, which saw service during WWII; the German torpedo submarine Biber; and HMS Alliance, commissioned in 1947. Each submarine is paired with a gallery of information pertaining to its history, giving children and adults alike the chance to see the history they are reading about.

Visitors can partake in forty minute guided tours of HMS Alliance given by a submariner who will regale his audience with stories of life below the sea. Or you can wander by yourself as the children explore the newly opened ‘Horrible Science of Submarines’ exhibition.

The museum also contains an extensive collection of historic photographs and artefacts available for visitors to browse, including medals, equipment, art and personal effects of those who lived and served onboard the vessels and ones like them.

Throughout the year the museum hosts a variety of talks, presentations and readings by a variety of guests. Whichever time of year you choose to visit there is bound to be something for all the family.

Contributed by Isabelle Moore

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

Sachsenhausen was a Nazi concentration camp 35km outside of Berlin during the Second World War.

DID YOU KNOW?

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp (KZ-Sachsenhausen) was used by the Nazis between 1936 and 1945. Its primary function was for the imprisonment and execution - or extermination - of Jews and political dissidents, including many Dutch freedom fighters, Russian prisoners of war and even some political leaders from invaded countries.

Its prime location near Berlin ensured that Sachsenhausen was an important camp and it served as a template for other concentration camps. Estimates put the number of Sachsenhausen casualties at between 30,000 and 35,000, many of whom were shot, hung or exterminated in a specially built room in its infirmary.

Conditions in this concentration camp, as in others, were terrible, with many prisoners dying of starvation or disease.

Those who enter Sachsenhausen can still see the chilling words “Arbeit Macht Frei” or “Work will set you free” emblazoned on its iron gates. Much of Sachsenhausen was destroyed during and after its liberation by Soviet and Polish troops on 22 April 1945, but was rebuilt as part of the project to turn it into a memorial and museum.

The reconstructed Sachsenhausen draws many visitors and guided tours are available. Overall, one can gain a detailed insight into life at Sachsenhausen and see, amongst other things, the crematory ovens, the surviving buildings, pictures, documents and scale models of the camp.

Photo by janebelindasmith (cc)

Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort

The Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort was one of a network of forts built on the France-Germany border following World War One.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort was one of a series of forts constructed by the French to defend their border with Germany following the First World War. Named after the then defence minister, Andre Maginot, the Maginot Line forts were a series of heavily defended subterranean fortifications.

The Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort (Ouvrage Schoenenbourg) was the largest of the Maginot Line forts. Made up of a series of areas spanning over 3 kilometres, the Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort was able to be entirely self sufficient, with everything from kitchens and water facilities to medical rooms and weaponry.

In reality however, during World War Two, the Germans attacked France not from the expected route through the Maginot Line, but via Belgium, meaning that the forts were unable to defend the nation.

Today, the Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort is open to visitors, who can explore this vast underground network. A visit lasts around 2 hours.

Stalingrad Battlefield

Stalingrad Battlefield was the site of the bloodiest battle in WW2 and a major Soviet victory.

DID YOU KNOW?

Stalingrad Battlefield was the site of one of the most important and bloodiest battles of the Second World War.

In the spring of 1942, Hitler’s forces were involved in heavy fighting in Soviet territory. However, rather than try to hold their ground, Soviet troops were instructed to keep fighting whilst slowly retreating, leading German forces deeper and deeper into the country in a war of attrition.

The Battle of Stalingrad, which took place from July 1942 and February 1943 was the most important of the standoffs between Germany and the USSR and is commonly thought of as the turning point in the war.

As they tried to capture Stalingrad, German forces suffered a decisive defeat at the hands of the Soviet army. The combination of the fierce Soviet fighting, lack of resources and freezing conditions proved too much for the German troops and they surrendered on 2 February 1943.

Only approximately 90,000 German soldiers survived, although very few of them would live to see Germany again after being interned at Stalin’s notorious gulags. The total casualties of the battle reached a staggering estimate of two million.

Stalingrad has since been renamed Volgograd, a move by Khrushchev to dissociate it from his predecessor, Joseph Stalin.

Those wanting to see Stalingrad Battlefield today can view remnants of the clash throughout Volgograd, from destroyed buildings to museums about the battle. The most prominent memorial showing Stalingrad Battlefield is the Mamayev Kurgan statue and complex.

Photo by iamkaspar (cc)

Sword Beach

Sword Beach was one of the five landing beaches of the Normandy D-day Landings during World War II.

DID YOU KNOW?

Sword Beach (Ouistreham) in Normandy, France was one of the sites of the Normandy Landings on 6 June 1944, D-day.

Assigned to units of the British 3rd Division, the landings at Sword Beach were the most eastern part of Operation Overlord, the allied offensive which led to the liberation of German-occupied France and subsequently Europe in World War II.

The Atomic Testing Museum

The Atomic Testing Museum tells the story of the atomic age and of the more local National Testing Site.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Atomic Testing Museum tells the story of the atomic age and of the more local National Testing Site (NTS). From 1951 to 1992, the NTS in downtown Las Vegas was the US’s main nuclear testing area.

From technical items such as Geiger counters and atomic age paraphernalia to timelines, films and even an interactive exhibit that lets you experience what it’s like to watch a nuclear test, the Atomic Testing Museum has it all.

The Atomic Testing Museum explores all aspects of the atomic era including its origins, the historical context such as the Cold War and its local and global effects. Overall, the Atomic Testing Museum is a good example of an interesting mix of history and science.

Photo by Thomas Angermann (cc)

The Berlin Flak Tower

The Berlin Flak Tower is a WWII bunker and anti-aircraft tower built under Hitler’s orders.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Berlin Flak Tower in Humboldthain Park is a seven storey bunker originally built under Hitler’s orders to protect Berlin from aerial attacks during the Second World War. In fact, in 1940, Hitler planned to build six such flak towers.

Three flak towers were constructed and, after the war, the only Berlin Flak Tower to survive was the Humboldthain tower. The rest were destroyed and even the surviving Berlin Flak Tower has suffered severe damage.

During World War II the lower floors of the Berlin Flak Tower were also used as a bomb shelter for thousands of the city’s population. Only two floors are currently open to the public and 90 minute tours are provided by the Berlin Underground Association.

If you go, ensure to wear comfortable shoes and plenty of layers as it can get quite cold (even in summer). Visitors must be at least 14 years of age and under 18’s must be accompanied by an adult.

The Brest-Hero Fortress

The Brest-Hero Fortress played an important role in 20th century military history.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Brest-Hero Fortress, also known simply as the Brest Fortress (Bresckaa krepasc), played an important role in 20th century history.

Begun in 1830, the Brest-Hero Fortress became an active military site on 26 April 1842. Since then it has played important roles in several conflicts including both World Wars and the German-Soviet War as well as being a notorious prison following Poland’s infamous Brest elections.

During these times, the Brest-Hero Fortress has changed hands on several occasions and suffered several attacks. However it is most famous as a symbol of Soviet resistance to German forces as part of Operation Barbarossa in 1941. Originally called the Brest Fortress, it was renamed the Brest-Hero Fortress in recognitions of its part in this event.

Today, the Brest-Hero Fortress is known both for its symbolism and for its 19th century military architecture. It now houses a museum of its own history and visitors can also wander through its impressive ruins.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is the site of the only building left standing following the explosion of the atom bomb in 1945.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial, also known as the A-Bomb Dome or the Genbaku Dome, in Hiroshima in Japan was the only building in the city which survived following the first ever explosion of an atomic bomb.

On 6 August 1945, US forces dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. It was the first ever use of the ‘A-bomb’. At the time, Japan was still at war with Allied forces in World War II and US President Harry S. Truman hoped that this action would cause the Japanese to surrender. In fact, Japan would surrender on 15 August 1945, but not before a further such bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki on 9 August.

The atomic bomb at Hiroshima instantly killed around 100,000 people and would go on to kill many thousands more as a result of radiation poisoning (approx 214,000 total with Nagasaki). It also devastated the city. The destruction was so great that the Hiroshima Peace Memorial building was the only structure which remained. Its survival is all the more remarkable given its location just 500 feet or so from the centre of the explosion.

Originally constructed in 1915, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial building is a domed structure which served as an office building for businesses as well as the Japanese government during the war.

Today, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial building forms part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park which also includes a museum. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Photo by sanzante (cc)

The Holocaust Memorial - Berlin

The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin commemorates the European Jews murdered under the Nazis.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, also known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, is an installation commemorating the genocide of the Jewish people perpetrated under Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

The Holocaust was an attempt by Hitler to exterminate the Jews and any other people who he considered “racially inferior” in what he called the “Final Solution”.

The Holocaust Memorial is a monument to the six million European Jews who died in the Holocaust. Made up of a vast dark granite maze and a subterranean information centre which has details about the victims, the Holocaust Memorial is a moving site.

Photo by Milan Boers (cc)

The Juno Beach Centre

The Juno Beach Centre explores the history of the Canadian forces in World War II.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Juno Beach Centre, also known as the Normandy Canadian Museum, chronicles the Canadian contribution to the war effort during World War II.

Based in the location assigned to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division in the D-Day Landings, the Juno Beach Centre focuses especially on the events which took place on 6 June 1944, whereby Canadian forces took part in the invasion of Normandy.

From photographs and documents to multimedia presentations and even a tour of the D-Day landing site and bunker, the Juno Beach Centre looks not only at the Canadian efforts in World War II, but paints a portrait of modern Canada.

A visit usually lasts 1.5 hours.

The Kasserine Pass

The Kasserine Pass in Tunisia was the site of a major US defeat during WW2.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Battle of the Kasserine Pass was a World War II battle which formed part of the clash between Allied and Axis forces to gain control of Tunisia, known as the Tunisia Campaign. It would be the worst defeat the US had yet experienced in the course of the war.

In February 1943, the German-Italian Afrika Korps led by General Erwin Rommel attacked US forces, mostly the U.S. Army's II Corps, who were defending a two-mile wide valley within the Dorsal Mountains in Tunisia. This gap, known as known as the Kasserine Pass, was seen as a weak point by Rommel, who aimed to push the Allies out of Tunisia and improve his supply lines.

The Battle of the Kasserine Pass was fought between 19 and 25 December and resulted in the retreat of US forces as well as significant losses on their part. With over a thousand men killed in the battle and hundreds being taken as prisoners of war, the Americans suffered a disastrous defeat. Yet, in the aftermath of the Battle of Kasserine Pass, they made significant changes which would serve them in later battles.

There is little to see here now except to travel along the battle site.

Photo by tataquax (cc)

The London Royal Air Force Museum

The London Royal Air Force Museum offers a great overview of the history of aviation in combat as well as housing over 100 aircraft from around the world.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Royal Air Force Museum (RAF Museum) in Hendon in North London has a series of exhibitions dedicated to the history of the RAF and aviation in general.

Housing a fantastic collection of over 100 aircraft, the RAF museum has an impressive selection of planes including some of the most famous to have ever graced the skies.

Also on show at the London Royal Air Force Museum are a series of objects and structures from throughout the history of aviation, such as two World War I hangars, a World War II Battle of Britain exhibition and a timeline of aviation history.

The Malta Aviation Museum

The Malta Aviation Museum houses numerous aircrafts and other interesting objects, mostly relating to World War II.

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The Malta Aviation Museum in Takali houses an impressive collection of aircrafts, military uniforms and related equipment.

The main focus of the Malta Aviation Museum is World War II, particularly the important role played by Malta between 1940 and 1943. The main World War II exhibit can be seen in the ‘Air Battle of Malta Memorial Hangar’ which includes a Supermarine Spitfire MkIX and a Hawker Hurricane MkIIA.

Photo by Archangel12 (cc)

The Merville Gun Battery

The Merville Gun Battery is a former German World War II fortification neutralised by the Allies on D-Day.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Merville Gun Battery was a German held fortification in Normandy which the Allies captured in the course of Operation Overlord in World War II.

Operation Overlord was the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, in June 1944. This hinged on the ability of Allied troops to land at various beaches in Normandy, an event known as D-Day or the Normandy Landings.

The Merville Gun Battery, which had four 100mm calibre guns (the Allies thought it had 150mm guns), was within firing distance of Sword Beach, which was designated as a British landing zone. This was a danger to the forces which were to land at Sword Beach and their supporting fleet. Thus, the 9th Battalion of the British Parachute Regiment led by Lieutenant-Colonel Terence Otway were tasked with capturing and disabling Merville Gun Battery before the landings were due to take place on 6 June 1944.

The complex operation was subject to severe setbacks. Only 150 of the 750 troops who were supposed to arrive actually reached the site after troops were dropped in incorrect locations up to ten miles from the intended drop zone. Furthermore, very few supplies reached these troops.

Yet, despite these problems, Otway and his men managed to improvise a new plan and successfully neutralised the Merville Gun Battery just hours before the Normandy Landings began. German troops managed to return to the fortification in the afternoon, but it now had only two working guns and posed a much smaller threat to troops landing at Sword Beach. In any event, it was recaptured by the Allies once again on 7 June.

Today, the Merville Gun Battery is open to the public as the Musée de la Batterie de Merville, which stands as a museum, a memorial and an educational site.

The Nagasaki Peace Park

The Nagasaki Peace Park commemorates the atomic bombing of this Japanese city by American forces in World War Two.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Nagasaki Peace Park commemorates the atomic bombing of this Japanese city by American forces in World War II. This occurred on 9 August 1945, three days after the bombing of Hiroshima.

Approximately 74,000 people were killed and 30% of the city was devastated, with many more suffering the effects of radiation poising for decades later.

Today, the Nagasaki Peace Park houses several monuments relating to this event, including one marking the site of the bomb’s hypocentre.

The Nanjing Memorial

The Nanjing Memorial commemorates the 1937 massacre of Nanjing’s population by Japanese forces.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Nanjing Memorial, also known as the “Memorial for compatriots killed in the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Forces of Aggression” is a monument commemorating the horrific Nanjing Massacre.

This massacre took place in 1937 when the Japanese captured the city. Rather than advising their citizens to flee, as they did, the Chinese government asked that people remain in Nanjing. The result was mass murder, in which around 300,000 civilians were killed by soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army and many thousands were subjected to other atrocities.

Still the subject of controversy between the Chinese and Japanese, the Nanjing Memorial is a moving, if harrowing, site where visitors can read about the events of the massacre in English, Japanese and Chinese inside its memorial hall. Visitors can also see remains from excavated mass burial sites.

Photo by Historvius

The National Liberation Museum

The National Liberation Museum 1944-1945 shows the history of the Interbellum (1918-1939), liberation of the Netherlands and Europe over the period 1944 to 1945 and also the post-war period 1945-1955.

DID YOU KNOW?

The National Liberation Museum in Groesbeek examines the history of the occupation of the Netherlands during World War Two, as well as the events leading up to this period and the legacy and reconstruction of the post-war era.

Designed to describe the history of the period and challenge visitors to understand the reality of this time, the museum mixes exhibitions with interactive displays to bring the challenges of the period to the forefront of the visit. Also weaved into the experience are films showing original footage from the time and displays, dioramas, music and even aromas from the period.

Split into three permanent exhibitions, the National Liberation Museum covers the inter-war years and those of the German occupation, the liberation period and the post-war era. There is a particular focus on certain key elements of the campaign to liberate Europe which took place in the vicinity of the museum, including Operation Market Garden as well as the war in the Lower Rhine region.

The National Liberation Museum also includes an area devoted to remembering the 150,000 Allied soldiers who lost their lives during the campaign to liberate Western Europe.

The National World War II Memorial

The National World War Two Memorial in Washington DC is a civilian and military memorial.

DID YOU KNOW?

The National World War II Memorial in Washington DC is a US monument commemorating the Second World War, particularly those who fought in the US armed forces and those civilians who assisted in and were affected by the conflict.

World War II was a multi-national conflict initially prompted by Germany’s invasion of Poland and which took place from 1939 until 1945, when the Allies emerged victorious. The US entered the war in 1941 as it declared war on Japan for its attack on Pearl Harbor. A staggering sixteen million US troops participated in the war.

The National World War II Memorial is a circular fountain surrounded by fifty-six columns and two arches. To the west of the National World War II Memorial is a wall, known as the Freedom Wall, containing 4,048 stars, each representing 100 Americans who perished in the conflict. Also displayed are films and photographic depictions of the war and those who fought in it.

The North Africa American Cemetery

The North Africa American Cemetery is a World War II military graveyard in Tunisia.

DID YOU KNOW?

The North Africa American Cemetery in Tunisia is a military cemetery and memorial site, mostly for casualties of World War II. In particular, the North Africa American Cemetery houses the graves of those who were killed in campaigns in North Africa and the Persian Gulf.

Located in Tunisia, which was the site of fierce fighting between Allied and Axis powers, especially between 1942 and 1943, the North Africa American Cemetery is home to 2,841 graves and a Wall of the Missing inscribed with the names of 3,724 soldiers who went missing in action. There is also a chapel.

The Pacific Aviation Museum

The Pacific Aviation Museum tells the story of US aviation in this region during World War Two.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island in Hawaii is dedicated to telling the story of US aviation in the Pacific during World War II.

As part of Pearl Harbor, it particularly focuses on the fateful day - 7 December 1941 - when Japanese forces launched a surprise attack on the US military base, bringing America into World War II.

Visitors begin by viewing a film about the attack on Pearl Harbour before seeing a series of exhibitions ranging from photographs and dioramas to aircrafts. The Pacific Aviation Museum houses numerous aircrafts including light civilian planes, a B-25B Mitchell, a P-40 fighter and a SBD Dauntless dive bomber. There are even flight simulations, allowing visitors to ’experience’ being a World War II pilot.

The Pacific Aviation Museum also goes beyond World War II, looking at planes that served during the Korean War, such as an F-86 Sabre and a MiG-15.

The Paneriai Memorial Museum

The Paneriai Memorial Museum in Lithuania is dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust.

DID YOU KNOW?

The History of Paneriai:
Before the Second World War the beautiful forest area around Paneriai was a very popular recreational area for residents of Vilnius and its surroundings. In 1940 and 1941 Red Army soldiers established a military base in Aukštieji Paneriai and set up fuel tanks and ammunition warehouses. At that time seven large pits were excavated.

Within days of being captured by the Germans this base became a place of execution. The shootings were supervised by the Nazis, but mainly carried out by the Special Squad (Ypatingasis Būrys), which consisted of 60 to 100 Lithuanian nationalist partisans.

The site chosen for extermination met all the requirements for mass murder: the doomed could be brought from nearby Vilnius (by truck, railway or driven by foot), the forest cloaked the area from unwanted eyes and muffled the sound of shooting.

The earlier designation “base” was used for the massacre site and initially the murderers used it intentionally so that others would think Paneriai was just a “work camp.”

Between July 1941 and April 1944 more than 100,000 people were murdered at Paneriai, the majority were Jewish. However, Poles, Roma, communists and Russian prisoners of war were also killed there.

By the end of 1943, as the tide of war turned, the Nazis began to hastily destroy the evidence of their crimes. A special brigade of prisoners was forced to exhume corpses and burn them. On April 15 1944, 12 of the 80 people chosen for the burning brigade escaped. Some were captured and shot, several survived and reached partisan units.

About the Paneriai Memorial Museum:
The museum was opened in 1960 at the mass murder site. In 1985 a new museum building was built and the exhibition overhauled. The terri¬tory was also renovated under architect Jaunutis Makariūnas - the small roads were asphalted, the burial pits were renovated and commemorative stones with Russian and Lithuanian inscriptions were erected.

After Lithuanian independence, on the initiative of the Jewish community, the first memorial stone with inscriptions in Hebrew, Yiddish, Lithuanian and Russian announced that 70,000 Jews were murdered here.

In 1991 the Paneriai Museum was transferred to the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum.

The exhibition at the Paneriai Memorial Museum shows photographs of people murdered at Paneriai, orders and other documents issued by the occupying power and found in the area of the massacres, as well as clothing, shoes and prisoners’ work tools. In 2009, for the 50-year anniversary of the museum, parts of its exhibition were renovated.

For further information please visit the museum’s homepage: www.jmuseum.lt
 

Photo by Historvius

The Pegasus Bridge Museum

The Pegasus Bridge Museum in Normandy is dedicated to the British 6th Airborne Division, the first Allied troops to land on D-Day.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Pegasus Bridge Museum, officially known as Memorial Pegasus, in Normandy houses the famous Pegasus Bridge, which was captured by British forces on the night of 5-6 June 1944 during World War II.

The capture of Pegasus Bridge was carried out in order to protect the eastern flank of the landing operations at Sword Beach as part of the Allied invasion of German-occupied Northern Europe. It played a vital role in aiding this attack, part of Operation Overlord, more commonly known as the Normandy Landings or “D-Day”.

Visitors to the Pegasus Bridge Museum can not only learn about the events of the capture of this important strategic point, but also about the forces which carried it out, the British 6th Airborne Division.

With displays of historic items such as weapons and gliders, documents, photographs and, of course, Pegasus Bridge itself, visitors can learn about various missions carried out by this division and about the capture of the bridge on D-Day, which has been nicknamed “The Longest Day” after the 1961 film based on the offensive.

Guided tours are available and last around an hour and a quarter.

The Warsaw Ghetto Fighters Monument

The Warsaw Ghetto Fighters Monument commemorated those who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Warsaw Ghetto Fighters Monument (Pomnik Bohaterow Getta) commemorates those who fought and perished in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Beginning on 19 April 1943 and lasting almost a month, this dramatic, ultimately thwarted, insurgency took place as Nazi forces went to liquidate Warsaw’s ghetto.

The monument itself, which was designed by Natan Rapaport and unveiled on the fifth anniversary of the uprising, offers a moving depiction of the fighters led by Mordechaj Anielewicz as well as portraying the suffering of more vulnerable inhabitants.

Submitted by Dr. G A Sivan, Jerusalem

Theresienstadt Concentration Camp

Theresienstadt Concentration Camp was operated by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

DID YOU KNOW?

Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in Terezin in the Czech Republic was a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust.

Theresienstadt was originally a stronghold known as Terezin Fortress built in the eighteenth century to protect Prague from the possibility of invasion by Prussia. It then became a prison in the 1880’s before being taken over during the Nazi occupation of the then Czechoslovakia in World War Two.

The majority of the 140,000 to 160,000 people interned at Theresienstadt Concentration Camp were of Jewish descent and over 30,000 of the prisoners died at the camp, despite Nazi attempts to portray it as a humane institution. Many others, around 80,000 of Theresienstadt’s inmates, were sent to death camps.

Today, Theresienstadt Concentration Camp is open to the public and includes a museum as well as the possibility of visiting the former ghetto.

Umschlagplatz

Umschlagplatz was the place from which the Jewish community of Warsaw were sent to death camps in World War II.

DID YOU KNOW?

Umschlagplatz was the square from which Warsaw’s Jewish community were sent to death camps during World War II, particularly to Treblinka. Today, a monument marks this tragic "assembly point", from where thousands of people were transported.

Submitted by Dr. G A Sivan, Jerusalem

United States Holocaust Museum

The United States Holocaust Museum commemorates the Holocaust and explores the issue of genocide as a whole.

DID YOU KNOW?

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC is dedicated to commemorating the Holocaust.

The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. "Holocaust" is a word of Greek origin meaning "sacrifice by fire." The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were "racially superior" and that the Jews, deemed "inferior," were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.

During the era of the Holocaust, German authorities also targeted other groups because of their perceived "racial inferiority": Roma (Gypsies), the disabled, and some of the Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and others). Other groups were persecuted on political, ideological, and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and homosexuals.

In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at over nine million. Most European Jews lived in countries that Nazi Germany would occupy or influence during World War II. By 1945, the Germans and their collaborators killed nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of the "Final Solution," the Nazi policy to murder the Jews of Europe. Although Jews, whom the Nazis deemed a priority danger to Germany, were the primary victims of Nazi racism, other victims included some 200,000 Roma (Gypsies). At least 200,000 mentally or physically disabled patients, mainly Germans, living in institutional settings, were murdered in the so-called Euthanasia Program. See the Museum’s Holocaust Encyclopedia for more information. 

Combining eyewitness testimony, displayed in films and documents, with over 900 artifacts including one of the railcars used to transport prisoners, the Holocaust Museum tells the story of this world event.

The Holocaust Museum also looks at the issue of genocide as a whole, displaying exhibitions about other atrocities around the world. On average, a tour of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum takes between 2 and 3 hours.

US National Museum of the Pacific War

The US National Museum of the Pacific War is a World War II museum focusing on the story of the Pacific theatre.

DID YOU KNOW?

The US National Museum of the Pacific War is a World War II museum focusing on the story of the Pacific theatre. Artefacts, information panels, interactive exhibits and recreations all come together in the National Museum of the Pacific War to chronicle this conflict, from the build up to its aftermath.

Visitors can really immerse themselves in the history of the Pacific War here, whether it’s in seeing recreations of the battlefields or the tanks, guns and uniforms which played a role in the conflict. What’s interesting about the National Museum of the Pacific War is that it looks not just at the Allied aspect of this war, but also at the other side. For example, its weaponry includes an impressive collection of Japanese items.

Also at the National Museum of the Pacific War is a gallery dedicated to Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who commanded the United States Pacific Fleet in World War II. In fact, the museum was originally known as the Admiral Nimitz Museum and is located in his hometown.

US National World War II Museum

The US National WW2 Museum in New Orleans tells the story of the war, focusing particularly on amphibious attacks.

DID YOU KNOW?

The US National World War II Museum in New Orleans tells the story of the war, focusing particularly on amphibious attacks. Using a combination of artifacts, photos, documents, information panels, stories and films, the National World War II Museum looks at everything from the Pacific to the African and European theatres.

Its main highlight is that of the event known as D-Day and other important attacks on land and water. The main exhibits at the National World War II Museum are divided into the Home Front, planning for D-Day, the D-Day beaches and a range of Pacific invasions. It is said that the National World War II Museum is the only one to deal with all such operations.

Amongst its main attractions, the National World War II Museum has a fully restored C47 plane, a PT 305 boat and a Sherman tank.

USS Arizona Memorial

The USS Arizona Memorial is a monument to the American service people who died during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

DID YOU KNOW?

The USS Arizona Memorial is a monument to the American service people who died during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. It is located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

This surprise attack has become one of the most infamous in US history, particularly as it led to the US declaring war on Japan the very next day and thus entering World War II.

Out of the 2,400 US military personnel and civilians killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, almost 1,200 died on the USS Arizona - the greatest loss of life on a US warship. The majority of those who perished on the USS Arizona are laid to rest there. Their names are also listed on one of the memorial’s walls.

Today, the USS Arizona Memorial is located over the remains of the original warship. Visitors are invited to commemorate the attack on Pearl Harbor by touring this and surrounding sites. The USS Arizona Memorial is itself only accessible via the official tour, which begins at the visitor centre (generally every 15 minutes). This also has a number of exhibits about the Pearl Harbor Attack.

This monument is part of the National Park Service’s WWII Valour in the Pacific Monument.

It is worth noting here that security is extremely high at the USS Arizona Memorial, to the extent that any form of bag is prohibited at the site.

USS Missouri Memorial

The USS Missouri Memorial was a World War II battleship and the site where Japan officially surrendered to the Allies.

DID YOU KNOW?

The USS Missouri Memorial was a World War II battleship and the site where Japan officially surrendered to the Allies by signing the 'Instrument of Surrender' on 2 September 1945. Today, it is docked at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

Launched on 29 January 1944, the USS Missouri (BB-63) - often known as the 'Mighty Mo' - was an Iowa class battleship. Even considering her creation near the end of the war, USS Missouri still managed to take part in a number of significant Allied operations in the Pacific, in particular the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

The USS Missouri would serve again in the Korean War, in the Middle East as part of Operation Ernest Will (accompanying oil tankers in the North Arabian Sea) and in Operation Desert Storm.

Today, visitors can tour the ship at the USS Missouri Memorial (usually around 35 minutes).

Entry costs $20 for adults and $10 for children, with additional costs for some of the optional tours.

Photo by Richard Matthews (cc)

Utah Beach Memorial

The Utah Beach Memorial commemorates the Normandy Landings at Utah Beach on D-Day.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Utah Beach Memorial is an American monument in Normandy which commemorates the World War II D-Day Landings. On 6 June 1944, as part of the Allied invasion of German-occupied Normandy known as Operation Overlord, the US 4th Infantry Division, part of the VII Corps, landed on Utah Beach.

Comprised of a granite obelisk, the Utah Beach Memorial is a monument to the achievements of this division and their successful landings.

War in the Pacific National Park

The War in the Pacific National Park in Guam commemorates the efforts of this region in WWII.

DID YOU KNOW?

The War in the Pacific Park in Guam is dedicated to exploring the role of the Pacific in World War II and to commemorating those who fought in the conflict.

Until 1941, Guam had been an American colony. However, in December 1941, the Japanese attacked the island and the US was forced to give it up in what became known as the First Battle of Guam. Nevertheless, in July and August of 1944, the Americans mounted their own attack and retook the Island in the Second Battle of Guam.

Today, War in the Pacific National Park is a US site commemorating the roles played in the conflict by different nations in the Pacific Theatre, including America, Japan, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, China, the Soviet Union, France and the Netherlands. From its memorial wall at Asam Bay Overlook to the Japanese guns at Ga’an Point, War in the Pacific National Park offers a range of sites and tours exploring the site’s history in the context of the Second World War.

The War in the Pacific National Park is actually made up of seven sites. It is probably best to start at the visitor centre, where there is further information as well as exhibits.

Warsaw Ghetto

The Warsaw Ghetto was established by the Nazis to forcibly house the Jewish population of the city.

DID YOU KNOW?

Warsaw Ghetto (Getto Warszawskie) was established by the Nazis to forcibly house the city’s Jewish population, with up to 400,000 people confined here from October 1940.

Conditions were dire and gradually became worse with the official implementation of the "Final Solution", the Nazi plan to annihilate the Jewish people.

In 1943, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising took place, a dramatic rebellion which occurred when the Nazis attempted to liquidate the ghetto and one which saw it razed to the ground.

Very little of the Warsaw Ghetto survives today. There are fragments of the original ghetto wall and several memorials including the Mila 18 monument where the uprising headquarters were located and an inscription where insurgent leader Mordechaj Anielewicz and the last of the uprising fighters perished. There is also the Warsaw Ghetto Fighters Monument and a monument at Umschlagplatz, the site from where Jews were transported to the death camps.

Submitted by Dr. G A Sivan, Jerusalem

Warsaw Rising Museum

The Warsaw Rising Museum focuses on the Polish insurgency against Nazi German forces in 1944 during World War Two.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Warsaw Rising Museum is a Second World War Museum in Poland’s capital city, dedicated to the insurgency of the Polish population against its Nazi German occupiers. It is particularly focused on the Warsaw Uprising, an operation carried out by Polish freedom fighters in August 1944.

The Warsaw Uprising should not to be confused with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943, where Jewish Poles mounted an attack against the German army in an attempt to prevent the Jewish population being sent to concentration camps.

The Warsaw Uprising of 1944 was a two month battle carried out by Polish freedom fighters to liberate their country from the Nazis. In an operation codenamed ‘Tempest’, this people’s army began its assault at exactly 17:00 on 1 August 1944, known as W-hour.

The battle was ferocious and bloody, resulting in over 20,000 civilian deaths and the almost complete destruction of the city. The Polish fighters expected help from other Allied nations and, with none forthcoming, the operation failed.

The Warsaw Rising Museum explores the events of the uprising and its aftermath as well as placing it in the larger context of the Second World War. Exhibiting everything from detailed timelines to the armbands worn by the insurgents and the W Hour clock, still set to 17:00, the Warsaw Rising Museum’s exhibit is poignant and detailed.

The Warsaw Rising Museum immerses the visitor in the events of the 1944 battle with films of original newsreels and even a recreation of the sewer systems which the Poles used as a means of travelling through the city. There is also a children’s exhibition called “the Little Insurgents Room”. The Warsaw Rising Museum offers guided tours in a number of languages including French, English, Russian, German, Italian and Czech.

Photo by Man vyi (cc)

Western Approaches Museum

Take command of the British Navy with a visit to the Western Approaches Bunker and submerse yourself in the history of the decisive Battle of the Atlantic.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Western Approaches Museum in Liverpool allows you to step back in time and undertake a completely unique experience, where you don’t just see the history but can actually venture inside to experience it first-hand.

The Western Approaches Museum sits within a World War II bunker complex which served as the combined services command centre during the Battle of the Atlantic - the Allied fight against the German U-boat offensive in the Atlantic ocean. The bunker has undergone a complete restoration and has now become a celebrated attraction and memorial site.

Named after the passage of ocean that it defended, the bunker played a key role in protecting the thousands of ships that made port in the Mersey during the height of the war, all while the tactical operations team worked hard to develop anti-submarine defensive strategies. Churchill himself was later to say that the Battle of the Atlantic was the “dominating factor all through the war”.

During their visit, guests are truly immersed in the action and can visit the underground telecommunications and mapping rooms and explore the bunker as a whole. Displays and information help people gain an insight into the development of the battle and the challenges involved in keeping the sea lanes open. Visitors can also pay their respects to those who lost their lives fighting for what the Prime Minister saw as the greatest challenge of the war.

Contributed by Rebecca Lewis

Photo by Jeroen F (cc)

Wolf’s Lair

The ‘Wolf’s Lair’ is the name given to Hitler’s headquarters in Poland during World War II and the site of Claus von Stauffenberg’s assassination attempt.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Wolf’s Lair in Gierloz in Poland was Adolf Hitler’s base on the Eastern Front during World War Two. The Nazi leader often called himself “the Wolf” and thus the Wolf’s Lair, also known as ‘Wilczy Szianiec’ or ‘Wolfsschanze’ is named after him.

At one point housing 2,000 people, the Wolf’s Lair was heavily defended and shrouded in Poland’s dense woodlands. In fact, it seems that the forces Hitler had to fear in his headquarters were not just external, but from within his own ranks.

On 20 July 1944, a group of Hitler’s own men, led by Claus von Stauffenberg, tried to assassinate him at the Wolf’s Lair by smuggling in a bomb. Whilst the attempt was unsuccessful, it did result in four other deaths.

In 1944, Hitler’s headquarters moved to Zossen and the Wolf’s Lair was mostly destroyed under his orders. Today, its ruins are a museum.

Photo by Paul74 (cc)

Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem is the museum of the Holocaust in Jerusalem.

DID YOU KNOW?

Yad Vashem in Jerusalem is a museum and a memorial of the Holocaust, in which over six million Jews, and at least five million from other ethnic groups, were murdered in an act of genocide perpetrated by the German National Socialist Party (the Nazis) under Adolph Hitler.

Beginning with the persecution of the Jews in Germany in 1933, the Nazis began a campaign in which Jews and other social and ethnic groups were taken into forced labour and extermination camps, suffering torture, intolerable conditions and mass executions.

Through exhibits including photographs, victims’ accounts, art installations and information panels, Yad Vashem offers a moving – and harrowing – account of the events of the Holocaust. This site features as one of our recommended key places to visit in Israel.

Photo by MIKI Yoshihito (cc)

Yasukuni Shrine

The Yasukuni Shrine is a sacred temple in Kudan erected by Emperor Meiji in 1869 coupled with a military museum.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Yasukuni Shrine was originally established by the first emperor of modern Japan, Emperor Meiji in 1869 in honour of those who fought and died for the country. Approximately 2,500,000 names are enshrined at Yasukuni, amongst them the casualties of wars since 1853, including the Boshin War, the Seinan War, the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars, World War I, the Manchurian Incident, the China Incident and World War II, known in Japan as the Greater East Asian War.

The Yasukuni Shrine follows the traditional Japanese customs of offerings to the dead such as food and ceremonies of appreciation. The Yasukuni Shrine treats every one of the names enshrined there equally, worshipping them as divinities.

The Yasukuni Shrine is part of a six hectare precinct and the shrine itself is surrounded by statues and commemorations to other victims such as war widows, the kamikaze pilots and animals.

Near Yasukuni stands the Yushukan Museum, one of Japan’s war museums and often a subject of controversy for foreign visitors due to its portrayal of World War II. The English translations here are less comprehensive than they might have been, but overall it is fascinating, covering Japanese military history dating back to the days of the Samurai.