Tours of World War 2 Battlefields can be made while traveling in Europe. The battlefield tours may consist of either group or private visits. This website is intended to provide background on the European battlefields for those who have an interest in touring the battlefields.
Why Tour European Battlefields? Since I was a young boy in the 1940's listening to war reports from London as that city was being blitzed by the Germans, I have been fascinated by World War 2, particularly the battles in the European theater. As I grew up, my interests in World War 2 was maintained by prolific reading, watching war movies, and listening to war stories from my two uncles who served in the war.
I always assumed I would be able to tour the European World War 2 Battlefields but such visits never materialized. Still I feel close to the European battlegrounds and visit them through the eyes and words of others. Additionally, my "Germany in World War 2" website keeps me in touch with World War 2 buffs.
This website is dedicated to those who, like me, wish to use Europe travel to tour battlefields where many of our relatives fought and died.
My recommendations on which European battlefields to visit are based more on the significance of the battles rather than on which site offers the best hotel or food accommodations. A person could have a bang-up time visiting war memorials in Paris but, if their visit was limited to Paris, that person would probably not get a good feel for what happened in World War 2. I would most like to tour the following battlefields:
Dunkirk is where the Germans made their first big mistake in World War 2. General Guderian, General Rommel, and other German generals were in the process of obliterating the Allied forces in France and Guderian's Panzer divisions were poised to apply the coup de grace to the surviving British army forces trapped at Dunkirk. About 300,000 Allied troops were virtually defenseless and nervously awaited a hastily-assembled flotilla of naval and amateur craft sent to fetch them back to England. Unaccountably, Hitler ordered Guderian's Panzers to halt, giving the British time to board their vessels and return to England. When the British troops arrived in England, they were without arms. Still, they were home and, eventually, would be rearmed and ready for action. These troops were the elite of the British army.
The Germans needed to destroy the British forces at Dunkirk, an action that would have likely forced the English to drop out of the war. Some experts have suspected that Hitler, who had no great dislike for the British (as he did the French, Russians, etc), deliberately allowed the British to escape thinking that Churchill would sue for peace, anyway. If these were his thoughts, he badly misjudged Churchill who was as tough as they come.
If I could visit this World War 2 battlefield, I would be satisfied with just walking the Dunkirk beach where the desperate young British soldiers stood in long lines hoping to board the next available vessel. The strain on the waiting soldiers waiting on that beach must to have been horrendous.
This battle was my first taste of war as my family huddled around a battery-powered radio in Louisiana listening to the London Blitz of 1940. It seemed the air attacks would never stop and it seemed the Germans were sure to win. I saw tears in my mother's eyes as she feared the Germans would be attacking Louisiana next. (In retrospect, we had little to fear but go back in time and try to tell that to a U.S. citizen in 1940 when the Germans looked invincible.)
For World War 2 tour purposes, I don't know what is available to see in London except for the London War Museum. The museum has an excellent exhibit area covering the evacuation of British children from London in 1940. It is a touching sight to see the little tots rounded up and transported to stay with their country cousins until the blitz was over. It was tough on the children but they had no choice.
More than anything else, though, I would like to talk to the British old-timers and get their observations and feelings about the London blitz and, also, to find out if they had expected to be invaded at that time, and how they had planned to fight back if they were invaded.
I feel close to the British people, They are our brothers and sisters or, at least, our cousins.
This is the massive World War 2 beach battlefield where America's greatest triumph in the European Theater of World War II occurred (D-day). It was also the scene of another of Hitler's great mistakes.
As the Allied troops poured ashore at Normandy, Hitler held back his Panzer divisions, convinced that the main Allied invasion would be further down the French coast and that the Normandy beach attacks were a feint. By the time he realized his error, the Allies had enough troops ashore to establish a firm beachhead.
I am of the opinion that the Allies had such control of the air, that even had Hitler unleashed his Panzers earlier, the Allies would have held on. But Allied casualties would have been much heavier than the thousands actually suffered and the issue would have remained in doubt longer.
All I would want to do at Normandy is just walk along the beaches and try to get a feel for how the brave American troops must to have felt as they moved up on those beaches with German machine gun fire pouring death down on them.
I'm not much for cemeteries but, apparently, the cemeteries in France for the American troops that fell on those beaches are something to see. If I were on a Europe tour, I would have to visit them.
This was one of the last European World War 2 battlefields. Only a crafty, cornered rat could have fought back the way Hitler did at the Battle of the Bulge.
The Battle of the Bulge battlefield covers many square miles of territory but I would be most interested in visiting the town of Bastogne where the Germans asked the Americans to surrender and the American officer, although heavily outnumbered, said "nuts!" And kept fighting!
That was the spirit of America's finest generation. You don't see that kind of spirit around much anymore.
But visiting battlefields can get old as my recent trip to the Vicksburg battle site of the Civil War taught me. After about 2 hours of viewing, I had to get away from the site. A person needs a break!
I would not think of going to Europe to tour battlefields and not enjoy some of the fine food and wine of Paris, Rome, and/or Berlin. England also has some fine restaurants.
Ignore the comments you may have heard on the poor attitude of the French (especially comments from Rush Limbaugh). Their customs are different from those of the U.S. and they stick to them. Be a little flexible and follow their instructions in restaurants (particularly in seating) and you won't have problems. But they are not going to cater to your every wish as some American restaurants will. (I'm used to the French attitude down here in New Orleans where every restaurant has its own character and they don't change their routine for anyone.
Travel in France is particularly recommended since the World War Two battlefields of most interest to Americans are located in France. (And some of the finest restaurants!)
In addition to the famous battlefields, museums, and restaurants, there are many other famous places to visit in Europe.
1. German Battles of World War 2. Many great battles were fought on the battlefields of Europe.
2. German Women had Roles in World War 2 . Eva Braun (Died in bunker with Hitler), Magda Goebbles (murdered her 6 children rather than have them live in a world without Hitler), Emma Goering (helped Jews), Geli Raubal, Leni Riefenstahl (brilliant director of propaganda films), and others.
3. German World War 2 Blitzkrieg Strategy Blitzkrieg Strategy used tanks and mobility to conquer Western Europe.
4. France In World War 2 France was defeated in the war but did not fight cowardly.
A World War 2 European Battlefields Tour is a must for all persons interested in the war. The ideal European visit should include visits to the great cities of London, Paris, Rome, and Berlin after touring the World War 2 Battlefields.