There’s barely a city in Europe that doesn’t echo memories of World War II. With an abundance of battlefields, museums, and moving concentration camps to visit, it’s hard for a history buff to know where to start.
We take a look at eight sites in Europe any history enthusiast should visit.
1. Dunkirk, France
The infamous Dunkirk Evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo, is the subject of Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster featuring One Direction alumni Harry Styles.
The real event, which took place between May 26 and June 4, 1940, saw over 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Canadian troops rescued from the disastrous Battle of France. Today, you can take a ferry to Dunkirk from Dover and visit the famous beaches, as well as the Dunkirk 1940 museum, which has artefacts left from the battle.
2. Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland
Auschwitz-Birkenau, in the North-East of Poland, is notorious for its past as the largest Nazi concentration camp. The camp, where approximately 1.1 million people died, is now a memorial and museum – a global symbol of genocide, the Holocaust, and the terrible war crimes of the 1940s.
3. Anne Frank House, Netherlands
Now an autobiographical museum on a canal in the heart of Amsterdam, the Anne Frank house was once the hiding place of the Frank family during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. The famous diarist escaped the Nazi’s until 1944, when her family was arrested and transported to concentration camps across Poland and Germany.
4. Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, England
Discover the underground complex where Churchill commanded government during the World War II at the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms in Westminster. The bunker, which is located directly underneath Her Majesty’s Treasury in Whitehall, and has everything in place as it was left, was built shortly before the outbreak of war in 1938.
5. The Wolf’s Lair, Poland
The top-secret Wolf’s Lair, built deep into the Masurian woods, was Adolf Hitler’s headquarters on the Eastern Front. The high-security site was surrounded by three heavily-guarded complexes which encased Hitler’s bunker.
Though now in ruins, you can still visit the birthplace of Operation Barbarossa today.
6. Omaha Beach, France
One of five D-Day Landing beaches on the coast of Normandy, Omaha Beach, now an idyllic seaside resort in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, was a catastrophic site for American troops. America suffered three times as many casualties as their German foes, the result of failed bombardments before landing.
7. Volgograd, Russia
Formerly Stalingrad, this Russian city was the site of a major World War II bust-up between Germany and the Soviet Union. The fierce Battle of Stalingrad was one of the bloodiest battles in history, with an estimated 2 million people wounded, killed, or imprisoned.
8. Holocaust Memorial, Germany
A breath-taking tribute to the murdered Jews in Europe, the Holocaust Memorial holds the names of approximately 3 million Holocaust victims. The site consists of 2,711 concrete slabs, or ‘stelae’, arranged in a grid pattern in the heart of Berlin.