- Colline du Mardasson 5, 6600 Bastogne, Belgium
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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 War Museum covers the Second World War, from its beginning up to autumn 1944, with a special focus on the Battle of the Bulge. Key events of the war and the combatants’ ordeal are reproduced here with the aim of clarifying the broad sweep of its history. The museum provides a clear picture of how the civilians lived during the occupation, during the battle itself and afterwards.
Opened on 22 march 2014, this new memorial center, housed in a brand-new building, is located on the former Bastogne Historical Centre site. Three ‘scenovisions’, real multisensory 3D scenes, give you the opportunity to relive the past. First you will find yourself in the Allied General Headquarters in southern England in June 1944. The second flashback places you on the edge of the Ardennes forest. Shortly afterwards you experience everything you would expect at a true-to-life table in a café. You are surrounded by the local people, while outside the shells continue to explode: a total immersion in the very heart of the conflict.
The Museum is located just a stone’s throw away from the Mardasson Memorial, that was inaugurated in 1950 to bear witness to Belgium’s gratitude to the American soldiers who risked or lost their lives on Belgian soil. The monument takes the form of a star. Engraved in gold lettering, the story of the battle can be read on the walls of the open gallery. A walkway situated at the summit offers the visitor a panoramic view of the defensive positions held during the siege of the town. The Memorial is endowed with a crypt, decorated with a mosaic by the French artist Fernand Léger.
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.
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.
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.
Like the other children in La Roche, Andrée Collin was eagerly looking forward to Christmas of 1944. In September the Americans had liberated the Belgian town from Nazi occupation. There were plans for a banquet and a ball on 25 December. Hitler’s counteroffensive in the Ardennes brought a nightmare instead.
Augusta Chiwy was a Belgian nurse who risked her life treating badly wounded American soldiers in the Battle of the Bulge. Her story remained unknown until very late in her life when the Belgian king awarded her the highest honor and a documentary about her courage won an American Emmy.
Fred Glavan left high school in Minnesota to join the elite American airborne forces. It took a long year of rigorous training before he received the proud paratrooper’s wings. Early in 1945 Fred’s unit was thrown into the Battle of the Bulge. In less than a week he was dead.
Hubert Pierlot, born in Cugnon, Belgium, was Prime Minister of the Belgian government in exile in London from September 1940 to September 1944. During the war he played an important role in the negotiations between the Allied powers. After the liberation of Belgium Pierlot returned to Brussels, where he headed a government of national unity until February 1945.
Melvin ‘Bud’ Biddle was a soft-spoken young man who adored pretty Leona, his childhood sweetheart. War tore him away from his quiet Midwest town and plunged him in the middle of the ferocious fight for the Belgian Ardennes. Much to his own surprise, Bud returned home a hero.
1944 was the year in which Horst Helmus turned eighteen. For several years, the German from Gummersbach, a town east of Cologne, had been spared the worst effects of the Nazi wars of aggression. But Hitler’s last gamble in the Ardennes changed all that in the blink of an eye.