The Liberation Route Europe (WWII) – Episode 626

categories: europe travel

Liberation Route Europe, the history of World War II - (Travel Podcast)

Hear about travel to some of the WWII sites in Western Europe  as the Amateur Traveler talks to Gary Arndt from everything-everywhere.com about the Liberation Route.

Gary says the Liberation Route is “relatively new. What it is is a consortium and a collection of sites that are dedicated to the history of WWII, in particular the liberation of Europe. So we are talking about sites that deal with 1944 and 1945. Most people are familiar with this from the various movies because this was the part of the war that the Americans were involved in. This is ‘Saving Private Ryan’, ‘A Bridge Too Far’, ‘The Battle of the Bulge’ which most people don’t realize all took place in an 11 month period: June ’44 to May ’45.”

Gary started in London with the Imperial War museum and the Cabinet War Rooms. London was where the invasion was planned.

From there he headed down to Portsmouth where much of the invasion fleet left from. In addition to having a good D-Day museum, they also have a long tapestry called the Overlord Embroidery which documents the invasion in the same way that the Bayeux Tapestry documented the invasion of England from Normandy in 1066.

One of the most familiar parts of Gary’s trip was a visit to the Normandy beaches and the towns of Normandy. In addition to the cemeteries there (both Allied and Axis) there are multiple museums that tell the story of the invasion from different points of view.

Gary’s trip was ordered in more geographic order than chronological so his next stop was Bastogne and the Ardennes Forest in Belgium where the last German counter attack happened around Christmas in 1944, commonly known as the Battle of the Bulge.

He proceeded then up in to the Netherlands where Operation Market Garden (A Bridge too Far) happened. While in the area he visited a couple concentration camps and took part in the moving ceremony at Nijmegen, the Sunset March.

Crossing into Germany, Gary visited the site of the bloodiest battle for the Americans during the liberation, the Battle of Hürtgen Forest. This battle preceded the Battle of the Bulge and has been largely eclipsed by it. It was the longest single battle the American Army has ever fought.

Gary’s journey ended in Berlin at the Allied Museum.

Next year, 2019, will be the 75th anniversary of the landings at Normandy so this may be a particularly good time to commemorate this moment in history with a trip along the Liberation Route.

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Show Notes

everything-everywhere.com
Switzerland UNESCO Sites – Episode 623
Liberation Route Europe
Saving Private Ryan
A Bridge Too Far
Battle of the Bulge
Imperial War Museums
Cabinet War Rooms
Patton
Ghost Army: The Inflatable Tanks That Fooled Hitler
Normandy landings (Operation Neptune)
Operation Overlord
Bayeux Tapestry
The D-Day Story, Portsmouth
Normandy Beach Map
Juno Beach Center
Caen Memorial Museum
Utah Beach Landing Museum
Sainte-Mère-Église
John Steele (paratrooper)
Airborne Museum (Sainte-Mère-Église)
Mulberry harbour
Red Ball Express
Normandy American Cemetery
La Cambe German war cemetery
Netherlands American Cemetery
Bastogne
Battle of the Bulge
Battle of the Bulge Museums
Anthony McAuliffe
Le Nuts cafe (Bastogne)
Band of Brothers
Verdun (WWI)
Operation Market Garden
The Bridge At Remagen
Overloon War Museum
Vught (Herzogenbusch) Concentration Camp
Museum Wings of Liberation Museum
Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery
National Liberation Museum (Netherlands)
Nijmegen Sunset March
Bombing of Nijmegen
Arnhem War Museum
Westerbork transit camp
Battle of Hürtgen Forest
Siegfried Line
Ordensburg Vogelsang
Allied Museum (Berlin)
Battle of Kasserine Pass
The Second World Wars (book)
Enemy At the Gates

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by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

3 Responses to “The Liberation Route Europe (WWII) – Episode 626”

Savio Wong

Says:

The Liberation Route is one of my favorite episodes because of my interest in history and travel. Two summers ago, I spend 10 days on a education tour sponsored by the Juno Beach Center (the WWII Museum from the Canadian perspective) and had a chance to tour a number of sites that mentioned by Gary. As he said, the fact that the war actually occurred on its soil, the Europeans have a much deeper appreciation of the impact because of the scars that left on the land and the people are so much more immediate.
I have been to the Netherlands several times and would definite check out the Nijmegen Sunset March next time I am there. I don’t think Gary mentioned a similar ceremony that occurs daily at the Menin Gate in Ypres where the Last Post is played each night at 20h00 since 1928.

Andreas Moser

Says:

Very interesting episode!
I am glad there are other travelers who are into history, like I am.

But the landing in Normandy shouldn’t be portrayed as the beginning of the liberation of Western Europe.
One year earlier, there had been the successful Allied landing in Sicily and once the Allied forces crossed onto the mainland of Italy, a firm foothold had been established. The Sicilian campaign was also extremely important because of the many lessons drawn from it for Operation Overlord.
And in August 1944, there was the landing in the south if France.

A very interesting endpoint of the Liberation Route could also be in Plzen in the Czech Republic. It was the easternmost city liberated by the Western Allies and there is still a Liberation Festival every year. It’s quite interesting because celebrations of the Western Allies were forbidden under communism and the official historiography barely mentioned them.
I have written about this in chapters 35 and 46-53 of my article on Plzen, unfortunately only available in German: https://andreas-moser.blog/2018/04/29/pilsen/ . But you can still see some photos, and if there is any interest, I can write a version of the article for my English-language blog.

Cheers from an ever-traveling history student!

Andreas Moser

Says:

In response to Savio’s comment, I would add that the impact of World War II in Europe is much more present not only “because of the scars left on the land and the people”, but mainly because it was the backdrop against which the European Union was founded (still under a different name back then) and it still serves as a warning against nationalism and xenophobia for many Europeans. It may keep Europeans a little bit more alert with regards to certain political developments.

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