Travel

Alsace

Alsace houses a large number of historical places commemorating its rich history during the Second World War. The British, the French, the Americans first liberated the northern part of the region in November 1944. Here you can visit the Lorraine American cemetery in Saint-Avold, the German military cemetery and the Centre Albert Schweitzer in Niederbronn-les-Bains, as well as a series of fortifications of the former Maginot Line.

Further south, you can explore the MMPark exhibition in La Wantzenau and the capital city of Strasbourg, whose liberation on 23 November 1944 was one of the key moments of the war. Continue your visit to the Memorial Alsace-Moselle in Schirmeck and the Centre Européen du Résistant Déporté, built on the site of the former Struthof concentration camp.

Near Colmar, you can learn about the heavy fighting that took place in the area in January-February 1945 at the Memorial Museum of the Battles of the Colmar Pockets. By 9 February after the battle of Colmar, all German troops west of the Rhine were forced into Germany and Alsace was liberated. These last parts of Alsace were also the last parts of France to be liberated.

Alsace
Day 1

Start with a visit to the Lorraine American Cemetery in Saint-Avold, which comprises 10,482 graves of American soldiers, most of whom were killed while driving the German forces from the fortress city of Metz toward the Siegfried Line and the Rhine River. Continue toward the Neunhoffen Casemate in Dambach, a vestige of the Maginot Line that now depicts the daily life of the fortress garrison.

Day 2

In Niederbronn-les-Bains, visit the German military cemetery and the Centre Albert Schweitzer, whose permanent exhibition ‘Fates of War’ tells the stories of twelve victims of WWII. Continue with the visit of several fortifications of the former Maginot Line: the Four-a-Chaux in Lembach, the Maginot Line Museum and Fort in Schoenenbourg, and the Shelter Museum and Esch Casemate in Hatten.

Day 3

Travel south toward La Wantzenau and check out the MMPark exhibition and its collection dedicated to WWII, where hundreds of mannequins, armoured vehicles, trucks and more are on display. Head further south to visit Strasbourg, Alsace’s capital city. In March 1941, General Leclerc made his men swear an oath after the battle of Kufra that they would not lay down their arms until the French flag flew over the Strasbourg cathedral. This oath was fulfilled on 23 November 1944 and the liberation of Strasbourg marked one of the highlights of the liberation.

Day 4

Start day 4 with a visit to the Memorial Alsace-Moselle in Schirmeck. A short distance south, near Natzwiller, you can visit the Centre Européen du Résistant Déporté, built on the site of the former Struthof concentration camp. Opened since November 2005, the Centre is dedicated to retelling the history of the former camp.

Day 5

Head to the Memorial Museum of the Maginot Line of the Rhine. This museum located in Marckolsheim commemorates the fierce fighting of 15, 16 and 17 June 1940, which resulted in the destruction of over 80% of the town. Spend some time in the nearby storybook town of Colmar.

Day 6

Further south, in the heart of Turckheim, you will find the Memorial Museum of the Battles of the Colmar Pockets. This Museum-Memorial presents the testimony of the events of two long months of suffering that took place in the area during the winter of 1944-1945.

Day 7

On your last day, travel south toward Uffheim where you can explore the Casemate of Aschenbach, an interval infantry casemate of the Maginot Line, composed of two firing chambers. Between 1990 and 2005, the casemate was restored by the Memorial Ligne Maginot Association of Haute-Alsace. This concludes the tours of the main sites of liberation in Alsace.