Visiting Peenemünde

Peenemünde is a peninsula in northern Germany on the Baltic coast. It was here from 1936 that the Nazi regime opened the Peenemünde Army Research Centre and under Wernher von Braun it was where the development of the first rockets took place: the V1 ‘Doodlebug’ and latterly the V2 rocket. The site was heavily bombed once the Allies realised…

Battle Damage: Munich

When you explore Second World War sites across Europe you look at the landscape differently from other visitors: you always have one eye out for visible traces of conflict. In cities this means looking for buildings damaged and repaired or which still bear the scars of war: battle damage. Munich was at the spiritual heartland…

Hürtgenwald Museum, Germany

The Hürtgenwald was a forested area beyond the Siegfried Line, or Westwall, in Germany close to the city of Aachen. It was fought over in November 1944 as American troops fought their way through the area. Ernest Hemingway, who reported on the battle, called it “Passchendaele with tree-bursts”. The Hürtgenwald Museum is a private museum…

Remagen Bridge

The story of Remagen Bridge is one of the iconic moments of the last months of the Second World War. By March 1945 the German Army was in full retreat with American and British forces pushing from the West and Russian troops advancing in the East. As the final advance on the river Rhine began…

Remembering VE Day

Today is the 70th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day – VE Day – when the war in Europe came to an end.   German troops had first surrendered to Field Marshall Montgomery at Lüneburg Heath on 4th May 1945. This though only concerned German units facing 21st Army Group, so the fighting in the…

Lūneburg Heath Memorial

On this day in 1945 Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery signed the declaration of surrender of German troops in Holland, Northern Germany and in Denmark bringing to an end the fighting for his 21st Army Group. Monty was the first Allied commander to bring the Germans to the table for an unconditional surrender, and events…

Exploring The Hürtgenwald

The Hürtgenwald was a forested area just inside the German border and east of the city of Aachen. It was protected to the south and west by the Siegfried Line but was reached by American troops in September 1944. The fighting in the Battle of the Hürtgenwald lasted well into December 1944, and the final breakout…

WW2 Book Review: Colditz – The Full Story

The Colditz Story by Major P.R.Reid (Folio Society 2015, 408pp, illustrated, £39.95) Growing up in 1970s anyone of my generation enjoyed a childhood obsessed with the Second World War: it was in our comics, on our bubblegum cards, in our toys and on our TV screens. One name rises above them all in this respect,…

Siegfried Line, Aachen

The Siegfried Line, or Westwall as the Germans called it, was a 390 mile long defensive wall built in the 1930s to screen Nazi Germany in from an attack from the West and was partially built in reaction to the construction of the French Maginot Line. During the Phoney War in 1939.40 it inspired the famous song…