During the Allied invasion of Normandy Arlette Varin, ten years old, lived in the city of Lisieux. On 6 June 1944 she lost a part of her family. During the rest of her life she never blamed the Allied soldiers. She only suffered from guilt that she was the one who survived.
Arlette Varin lived with her family near the railway station in Lisieux, Normandy. During the German occupation daily life was almost as usual, although the German troops were stationed near their house. One day Arlette and her brother were playing in the garden when they heard an air raid alarm. The family ran into the kitchen, the children took shelter under the table as they were taught at school.
That night, 6 June 1944 at 20:00, Lisieux was one of cities that endured heavy Allied bombing as part of Operation Overlord. The bombardment devastated a large part of town including Arlette’s house. Arlette survived, but her brother was killed and her grandmother badly wounded. After the bombing Arlette was evacuated to a farm in the countryside, together with fifty other people. On their way to the farm the group was attacked by Allied planes who mistook them for German soldiers.
Arlette returned home a few days later where she found her dead mother and her seriously wounded father under the ruins of their house. Two weeks later her grandmother died of her injuries.
After the war, Arlette’s family went back to the damaged city of Lisieux. She finished school and found a job as a secretary, first in Lisieux, then in Caen, where she still lives. Despite all her losses Arlette never felt any resentment against the Allied soldiers. But she suffered intensely from the sense of guilt that her brother had died while she survived.
Mémorial de Caen Museum
One of its kind in France, the Mémorial de Caen Museum gives the public the keys to understanding the Second World War, from its origins after the First World War to its latest consequences in 1989. It prompts the visitor to ask himself questions about this rapidly fading episode that changed the face of Europe and the world.
Pointe du Hoc
Pointe du Hoc is a high point between two of the five D-Day landing beaches, Utah and Omaha. It is renowned for the daring assault conducted on 6 June 1944 by the 2nd U.S. Ranger Battalion in an effort to neutralize the German artillery battery there.
The Utah Beach D-Day Museum
The Utah Beach Landings Museum is situated on the site of a former German strongpoint that was crushed by the U.S. assault force on Utah Beach in the morning of D-Day, 6 June 1944. Among a lot of war related items, this museum features a rare Martin B 26 ‘Marauder’, an American medium-size bomber.
Juno Beach Centre
More than a museum dedicated to the landings on D-Day, the Juno Beach Centre is a place of memory representing a whole nation. It recalls the participation of Canada in the Second World War and its important contribution to the liberation of Western Europe. Canada itself emerged transformed from the conflict.
The battle for Caen
On D-Day Caen was an important Allied objective as it was an essential road hub, strategically astride the Orne River and Caen Canal. The Germans defended this stronghold with all their power. It took six weeks of fighting and heavy shelling to capture the capital of Normandy. 30,000 Anglo-Canadian soldiers and 3,000 civilians lost their lives.