During the Second World War, Europe was under assault from the Nazis. Over six million people died, the population was devastated and most of the country was destroyed. The aftermath of the war involved with the actual fighting and battles, the country was left to rebuild.

The world’s largest volunteer army, the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), landed in France on June 28, 1917. Along with more than 1.15 million men and women of the United States Armed Forces, the AEF was mobilized to fight in Europe’s first great conflict. And despite the efforts of many, the AEF never reached its full strength.

During the 1940s, war devastated Europe, but it also brought about a new era in Europe travel. From the air-raids of London to the liberation of Paris, and from the beaches of Normandy to the Alps, there are some places that ensure that the past is never forgotten.

More than 16 million Americans served in the U.S. Army during World War II, but the decades are flying by. Today, these veterans are between 90 and 100 years old. Many have died, others no longer travel. But today a new wave of visitors interested in the history of World War II is arriving on the European continent.

Increasingly, the adult children, adult grandchildren and now great-grandchildren (and even great-great-grandchildren) of these veterans want to visit World War II sites in Europe, especially to see where their parents fought or served during the war. It is also a way to honor and remember the soldiers who fought on both sides, as well as the innocent civilians, often of Jewish descent, who were killed or executed during the conflict.

All over Europe, the history of World War II is played out in places that recall the events of the 1940s. Visitors can choose from a variety of options, ranging from a guided tour with a World War II theme to an individual tour for a small group or private family. Here are some examples of European destinations that attract tourists with a penchant for history.

Anzio and Montecassino, Italy

Europe’s WWII Sites Draw Veterans’ Families and History Buffs

American tank in Montecassino, Italy // Photo Italia LLC/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

In 2023 (date pushed back to 2023), Insight Vacations told Travel Agent it was planning a seven-night trip to World War II-era Italy for a small group. This individual trip starts in Rome and then goes to Anzio, about an hour south of Rome.

This is where the Allies landed during the Italian campaign. The Insight small group program includes a visit to the Anzio Military Cemetery and the Anzio Beach Museum, as well as the U.S. Military Cemetery and the Sicily-Rome Visitor Center. The tour will then continue to Montecassino, Italy (or Monte Cassino as it is sometimes written) and visit other World War II sites.

In addition, Andrea Grisdale, CEO and founder of IC Bellagio, designs customized vacations for private groups and individual travelers. She notes that the World War II sites in Montecassino are popular with her American travelers.

Montecassino was essentially the battle of Rome in the Italian campaign. More than 240,000 Allied troops, 140,000 Axis troops, 1,900 tanks and 4,000 aircraft were involved. Unfortunately, 75,000 people died on both sides.

On the fifth day of her trip to Rome and the Amalfi Coast, Collette stops at the Benedictine monastery at the top of the mountain, where visitors learn about the history of World War II and explore the monastery’s ornate chapel, courtyards and museum. Round trip prices start at $2,549 for two departure dates in August 2023, with multiple departure dates in 2023, 2023 and 2023.

Another popular location for history buffs is Salerno, Italy, where the Allied invasion of Italy began in September 1943 with an amphibious deployment of 200,000 naval troops in Operation Lavina and two supporting operations in Calabria and Taranto.

The 69. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the Museum of the D-Day landings and of the capital Salerno was inaugurated under the patronage of the Italian President Giorgio Napitano. Artifacts include an M4 Sherman tank, military uniforms worn by soldiers from both sides, an unedited video of the landing, photographs, etc.

Ardennes, Belgium

Europe’s WWII Sites Draw Veterans’ Families and History Buffs

German military cemetery at Recogn-Bastogne, Belgium // Photo: Jules_Kitano/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

In December 1944, the Battle of the Bulge was an intensive cold-weather offensive by the Nazis in the Belgian Ardennes, including the siege of Bastogne.

One way to experience this region is with the Globus Small Group Discovery Tour from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Brussels, Belgium, starting at $2,539 per person based on double occupancy. On the fourth day of the tour the group will visit Bastogne.

Why was Bastogne so important? The Axis troops quickly tried to reach the port of Antwerp before the Allies and all roads in the Ardennes converged on the town of Bastogne. The American troops in Bastogne held out until the 3rd Infantry Division… The army of American General George Patton reached the city and the siege was broken on the 27th. December 1944.

Globus trip participants see the Mardasson monument, dedicated to the American troops who liberated the city, and learn about the Battle of the Bulge in the Bastogne War Museum. This nine-day guided tour is planned for 2023, 2023 and 2023.

Amsterdam and Arnhem, Netherlands

Europe’s WWII Sites Draw Veterans’ Families and History Buffs

Anne Frank House, Amsterdam // Photo: Ceneri/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The 6th. In July 1942, the family of Otto Frank, a Jewish businessman from Amsterdam, with his wife and two daughters, Anna and Margot, moved into the building where Frank’s shop had previously been located.

It consisted of two parts – the main building and the outbuilding. Eight people, including Frank’s family and others, had been hiding in the upper floors of the outbuilding for more than two years. Today’s visitors, who spent much of 2023 in self-imposed isolation, can easily imagine how difficult it was for Franken and the others to hide in the attic without being able to get out, let alone fear being discovered.

In the Anne Frank House, visitors can see the original red-bound diary that Anne wrote on her 13th birthday. Birthday on the 12th. June 1942, shortly before the family had to go into hiding. Unfortunately, Frankie and others were killed on the 4th. Discovered in August 1944. Two of her assistants were also arrested, but the other two took some of Anna’s notes with them before the secret annex was raided by the Nazis.

The Franks and other residents of the complex were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp. Anna and Margot were then deported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where both girls died of typhus. Otto Frank was the only one to return from Auschwitz in June 1945 and published Anna’s diary from the secret annexe in 1947.

Today, visitors can walk past the hinged bookcase that formed the entrance to this outbuilding, see the original map of Normandy that Otto Frank used to track the Allied invasion, the pencil height measurements on the wallpaper for Anne and Margot’s daughters, the postcards and photos of movie stars that Anne pasted on her bedroom walls, and the original entries in Anne’s diary.

For most visitors it is a vivid and emotional experience. Travelers can do this as part of a guided tour starting or ending in Amsterdam, as part of an individual travel package, or as part of a city trip/package that includes airfare and hotel accommodations. United Vacations is one of the tour operators that combine the flight with a stay in the Amsterdam Marriott Hotel, the Renaissance Hotel Amsterdam or another hotel.

Another popular World War II landmark is Arnhem, Netherlands. The 17th. In September 1944, the Allied forces, including the Americans, 1. Airborne Division and the 1st Polish Parachute Brigade to capture the bridge now known as the John Frost Bridge at Arnhem. The goal was to conquer this last bridge over the Rhine so the Allies could invade Germany.

The story of this military operation of Marquette Garden is known as Too Far Away Bridge (it was also made into a movie) because the attempt failed. But today’s visitors can visit it to learn how the operation was performed.

The seven-day Trafalgar Best of Holland tour, priced at $2,145 per person based on double occupancy, travels to Arnhem on day five to visit the Airborne Museum and the John Frost Bridge.

Reichstag and Holocaust Memorial, Berlin, Germany

Europe’s WWII Sites Draw Veterans’ Families and History Buffs

Reichstag, Berlin, Germany // Photo frankpeters/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

One month after Adolf Hitler took office as Reich Chancellor, a fire broke out in the neo-Renaissance Reichstag, beginning the events that led to his dictatorial seizure of power. This imposing building also suffered from allied bombings during the Second World War.

Today, however, the Reichstag has been beautifully restored, houses the German parliament and is a bastion of German democracy. The building’s huge glass dome has been restored and visitors can climb to the top of the dome via an internal ramp that spirals upwards and offers incredible views of the city.

Today, the Reichstag is one of the most important monuments in Berlin, visited by tourists on guided tours, individual trips or package tours in the city. Tourists who choose the Berlin hotel package from Pleasant Holidays, for example, can stay at the Westin Grand Berlin and visit the Reichstag on their own.

Many other World War II sites also attract visitors to Berlin. The Humboldtine flak tower, the last flak tower built to defend the city, is one of them.

But no place is more poignant than the Holocaust Memorial, dedicated to the millions of innocent Jews murdered in the late 1930s and 1940s. The 200,000-square-foot facility, designed by architect Peter Eisenman, consists of 2,711 austere concrete slabs, or steles, arranged in a grid on a sloping site.

Norwegian Resistance Museum, Oslo, Norway

The Norwegian Resistance Museum, also known as the Norwegian Home Front Museum, in Oslo, Norway, tells the story of the 1940-1945 occupation; visitors are shown a fascinating collection of photographs, memorabilia and historical artifacts from the war. Among them are the original radio transmitters used by the Norwegian resistance to communicate with Allied troops in Britain. The museum is also located in the Akershus fortress, the castle where many resistance fighters were tortured and/or executed.

Cosmos offers a number of tours to Oslo, including Focus on Scandinavia, a small-group discovery tour from Copenhagen, Denmark to Stockholm, Sweden, with visits to Norway; one day of the tour includes a visit to the city of Oslo, including Akershus Fort. Prices start at $2,339 per person based on double occupancy.

Another 11-day itinerary, Cosmos Norwegian Fjord, is a round trip from Oslo and offers more opportunities to thoroughly explore the Norwegian Resistance Museum and other attractions. Prices start at $2,419 per person based on double occupancy.

World War II sites in Poland

Europe’s WWII Sites Draw Veterans’ Families and History Buffs

Wroclaw, Poland // Photo: Vladimir Vinogradov/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Abercrombie & Kent offers an enticing tour of World War II, a nine-day tour of Poland: The Witness to History itinerary for multiple dates in 2023-22 starts at $4,395 per person, double occupancy. This Connection Boutique trip goes from Warsaw to Krakow and is limited to 18 travelers.

Travellers are immersed in Warsaw’s history, from its heyday to the Warsaw Uprising during World War II. In one day they discover the remains of the infamous Warsaw Ghetto and visit the POLIN Museum, a leading cultural institution that highlights the millennial history of Polish Jews.

A&K travelers also visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Bochnia salt mine, pause to reflect on the dark chapter of World War II at Auschwitz, and join one of Europe’s last remaining urban lanternists as he lights real gas lanterns in Wroclaw’s medieval center. You will also learn how to make pirrogues, and then enjoy dinner accompanied by a folkloric music and dance show.

Places in Athens and Crete, Greece

Europe’s WWII Sites Draw Veterans’ Families and History Buffs

Souda Bay military cemetery, Crete, Greece // Photo: asiafoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The Military Museum of Athens, which has four floors, showcases the long military history of Greece, from ancient times to the present. The museum also has several branches in the country, including Nafplion, Chania, Tripoli and Thessaloniki. Many tour operators, including Pleasant Holidays and Delta Vacations, offer packages with accommodation in Athens.

Another Greek place associated with the history of World War II is the island of Crete. The war cemetery in Souda Bay was designed by the famous architect Louis de Soisson and commemorates the dead of the two world wars, including the Battle of Crete in World War II. John Pendlebury, an archaeologist who worked for the British Secret Service during the war, was captured and executed, is buried here.

In Chora Sfakion, a beautiful village on Crete, a monument commemorates the brave evacuation of allied troops (including British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers) in May 1941. A small museum in the village also displays items from the Second World War. On the 20th. In May 1941, German paratroopers invaded Maleme airport in Chania, Crete; this event is considered the first military air invasion in history.

Other World War II sites in Europe

The list of European sites related to World War II is extensive and varied. The San Marino Wax Museum has 100 wax figures, including two of Hitler and Mussolini, the two leaders of the Axis powers during World War II.

The Icelandic town of Reidarfjordur served as an Allied base during World War II, and a war museum is located next to barracks that were part of a large hospital camp. The Winter War Museum, located near the site of one of the most important battles of World War II in Finland, tells the story of the Battle of Suomussalmi and the military history of the area.

In Lithuania, visitors can visit the Memel-Nord battery, a fortification hidden in the dunes. In these bunkers from the Second World War, grenades, mines and bomb fragments can be seen. In Zagreb, Croatia, visitors can enter a World War II-era bomb shelter; this 1,148-foot-long Gric Tunnel runs between Radiceva and Mesnička streets.

The Austrian War History Museum in Vienna is another place where you can immerse yourself in the history of the 1940s. And many others, from Romania to the Baltics and across the continent, also draw American visitors who want to learn more about the history of World War II or their family’s connection to it.

10 must-see historical wonders in Europe

EU urges members to open up to Americans

Other movements: A visit to the castles or an exploration of the faith in Europe

Travellers looking for fewer countries, more creative destinationsThe people who visit these sites aren’t the historians or war buffs; they’re the people who survived the war. The veterans who made it home to tell their stories are sometimes the most important part of the visit.. Read more about ww2 locations and let us know what you think.

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