The Ardennes and Wallonia
In Southern Belgium, Wallonia is brimming with picturesque and historic sites. The Ardennes, green heart of the country, proved crucial on two occasions during WWII: in 1940 during the surprise attack launched by the German army, and in late 1944 with the fierce Battle of the Bulge. Nowadays, the Bastogne area houses various museums presenting this battle, such as the Bastogne War Museum. Wander through the Bois Jacque in the village of Foy, where the 101st Airborne division of the US Army dug their foxholes when the area was soon to be surrounded by enemy divisions. In La-Roche-en-Ardenne, witness the former location of the British counter attacks and visit the Museum of the Battle of the Ardennes. At Baugnez 44 Historical Center, you will learn about the slaughter of American soldiers prisoners in the city of Malmedy in December 1944. Visit the Recogne German war cemetery to pay tribute to more than 6,000 German soldiers who fell in WWII.
- Bastogne War Museum, Bastogne
- Bastogne Barracks, Bastogne
- 101st Airborne Museum, Bastogne
- Museum of the Battle of the Ardennes, La Roche-en-Ardenne
- Baugnez 44 Historical Center, Malmedy
- December 44 Museum, La Gleize
- Bulge Relics Museum, Vielsalm
Houffalize was a strategically located crossroads on the Ourthe River, right in the center of the Bulge, south of Liège and just north of Bastogne. The German troops occupied the town from 20 December 1944 to 16 January 1945. The Allied planes struck Houffalize many times. 189 Civilians died and 350 habitations were devastated.
The Monument Patton in Bastogne is dedicated to General George Patton, who broke the siege of Bastogne in December 1944. The monument stands at the Merceny Square.
The small village of Foy, just four kilometers to the north of Bastogne on the road to Houffalize, was occupied by the Germans from 21 December 1944 to 13 January 1945. The American troops had installed in Jack’s wood in Foy, in their strive for the liberation of Bastogne.
In the morning of 18 August 1944 twenty Belgian civilians were killed at the town of Courcelles by members of the Rexist Movement, a group of ultra right Belgian civilians. After the Normandy landings in June 1944, tensions between German authorities, collaboration movements and the Resistance grew more intense, in particular in the Wallonian province Hainaut.
On the 57 acres of Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial the remains of 7.992 American soldiers are interred. Most of these men lost their lives during the advance of the U.S. forces into Germany. The U.S. 1st Infantry Division liberated this site on 11 September 1944. A battlefield cemetery was established on 28 September 1944.
The Baugnez 44 Historical Center in Malmedy traces the course of the Battle of the Bulge with a focus on the massacre of Baugnez/Malmedy on 17 December 1944. The museum was founded to commemorate the 84 Americans who were killed in the massacre. The collection presents small stories and reconstructed scenes, authentic material, vehicles, pictures and movies.
The Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial can be found in Neupré, Wallonia. The Memorial is a stone structure bearing on its facade a massive American eagle and other sculptures. The cemetery contains the graves of 5,317 American soldiers, 65% of them being fallen airmen of the U.S. Air Force.
On 17 December 1944 the German fighting unit (Kampfgruppe) Peiper killed 84 American prisoners of war at the crossroads of Baugnez near Malmédy. Though the reasons for these killings remain unclear, this massacre was part of a series of war crimes committed by the same unit during the previous and following days.
The December 44 Historical Museum can be found in La Gleize, in the northern part of the Belgian Ardennes. The museum, housed in a historic building, focuses entirely on the Battle of the Bulge, which was fought between December 1944
War is not only about battles, battlefields, winners or losers. It is also about mourning, souvenirs, reconstruction and commemoration. In the hamlet of Recogne, near Bastogne in Belgium, a German cemetery gathers the remains of more than 6,800 German soldiers from 17 to 52 years old, who died during the Second World War.
The Bastogne War Museum represents a new way to remember the Second World War in Belgium. It offers a fresh perception in a modern and interactive framework of the causes, events and consequences of the Second World War, with a special focus on the Ardennes counteroffensive: the Battle of the Bulge.
The Bastogne Barracks Museum was opened in 2010. It is located in the barracks that accomodated the Allied Headquarters during the Ardennes Offensive in 1944. Restored parts of the barracks exhibit a collection of materials used in the fighting. The so called Nuts-basement shows the office where General McAuliffe spoke the famous word ‘Nuts’,that had a major influence on the outcome of the Offensive.
At the end of the Second World War the Austrian SS-commander Otto Skorzeny was for the Allies ’the most wanted man in Europ’. During the Ardennes Offensive he commanded a special unit, that was trained to take bridges on the Meuse and to disorganize the Allied troops.
The 101st Airborne Museum in Bastogne is housed in the prestigious building of the former officers’ mess of the Belgian Army, built in 1936. The museum retraces the course of the Battle of the Bulge, fought between December 1944 and January 1945. A collection of items from the battle, reconstructed scenes and mannequins are displayed.
The Museum of the Battle of the Ardennes tells the story of the battle and liberation of La Roche and nearby villages on the left bank of the River Ourthe during the allied counteroffensive between 3 and 16 January 1945. In 1944-1945 the town of La Roche was almost completely destroyed and 114 inhabitants were killed.
The Commonwealth War Cemetery in Hotton, Wallonia contains 666 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 21 of them unidentified. Many of the burials date from the German counter offensive in the Ardennes in January 1945, while others date from May 1940.
The McAuliffe Memorial in Bastogne is dedicated to the memory of General McAuliffe, defender of the city in 1944. The monument was carved by Miss Silvercruys, sister of the Belgian Ambassador to the US at the time. The work was inaugurated by the General in person. In 1947, the square where the memorial is standing was renamed McAuliffe Square.