LRE Forum 2021

The LRE Forum 2021 was held on 9-10-11 February 2021, for the very first time in an online form to make it a safe and accessible event for everyone. The LRE Foundation annual event was composed by the LRE Members Webinar, the LREXPO and the LRE Conference, and was streamed from a studio close to the famous John Frost Bridge in Arnhem, the Dutch city central to the Operation Market Garden. “Building the future of commemorations together” was the fil rouge of the event and the key topic for reflection. We are beyond grateful for the heartfelt participation of our members, partners and general public. Even if we would have preferred to meet everyone in person, we are happy that the digital format made us reach a wider audience with attendees from all over Europe, the US and Canada.

We would like to hear your thoughts and suggestions. If you attended at least one of the three events — Members Webinar, LREXPO, LRE Conference — please take a moment to fill in this survey. Your feedback will help us improve our future events! 

The LRE Forum 2021 opened its digital doors on 9 February with an event dedicated to the members of the LRE Foundation. In one hour and half, our Managing Director, Rémi Praud, and our Deputy Managing Director, Jurriaan de Mol, took the members through the latest projects and developments of the LRE Foundation.

We talked about the new governance structure and proudly presented the new chairman, former Dutch diplomat Ed Kronenburg. Then we introduced the new name of the Foundation — LRE Foundation — and the refreshed visual identity for both the foundation itself and the Liberation Route Europe initiative. Afterwards, Chance Williams and Joël Stoppels gave an update about the Liberation Route Europe hiking trails and Europe Remembers respectively. Moreover, the Members Webinar was enriched by the contributions of Lisette Mattaar, Director of vfonds, and Ingrid Jung, Deputy Head of Mission at the German Embassy in The Netherlands, who talked about the reasons behind their support to our foundation. Finally, we shifted the focus on our members, first by introducing the latest additions to our network — Municipality of Rheden (NL), Museum Federation Friesland (NL), National Institute ‘Ferruccio Parri’ (IT), Municipality of Torgau (DE) — and then giving the floor to three members that shared some exciting project news with the broader LRE network. With Mathieu Billa, Director of the Bastogne War Museum, Andrew Whitmarsh, Curator of the D-Day Story Portsmouth, and Carlo Puddu, Director of LRE Italy, we closed our first day of the LRE Forum 2021 and gave everyone appointment to the next day for the LREXPO.

The Forum 2021 continued on 10 February with the annual travel trade event, the LREXPO. A large number of professionals from the international travel trade industry had the chance to network with members and partners of the LRE Foundation. Before the one-on-one meetings started, the attendees followed a workshop on the future of remembrance travel with Jurriaan de Mol, Paul Reed, Ronnie Weijers, Joost Rosendaal, and Miguel Gallego. The speakers shared their experiences and perspectives on the current status and future of remembrance tourism.

On 11 February, the final event of the LRE Forum open to members, partners and to everyone interested in WWII history and remembrance took place. The LRE Conference was a great occasion to reflect on the challenges, opportunities and future trends pertaining to WWII heritage together with industry experts, scholars, and international students. 

Host Anouk Susan led the debates and the interactions with the audience that warmly engaged in the discussion. In the first panel discussion, with Linda Hervieux, Sebastiaan Vonk and Prof. Lucy Noakes, the speakers reflected on how WWII historical research and narrative can become more inclusive and tackle the present inequalities and discrimination towards minorities. Later on, the topic shifted to a different challenge that we are globally called to face: climate change. Nathalie Worthington, director of Juno Beach Centre, provided the audience with a great best practice the Juno Beach Centre is one of the first museums to have articulated a strategy to reduce its carbon footprint, as in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for 2030. In a second panel discussion with a specific focus on the link between sustainability and tourism, Massimo Turchi, Jan Engler, Jos Vranken, Jeroen Drabbe, and Rémi Praud brought their experience in a lively and insightful discussion. 

In the second part of the LRE Conference, we reflected on the legacy we would like to leave to the future generations and the best ways to transmit WWII history and stories. In this segment of the event entitled Can remembrance be fun? – Strategies for Youth Engagement, Lisette Mattaar, Peter van ‘t Hoog and Michael Dodds shared their ideas and reflections regarding the fine line dividing entertainment and education, and explained some of the initiatives organised in the Netherlands and in Normandy to engage with a younger audience. The words of the British veteran Mervyn Kersh, who talked about the kind of legacy he would like to leave behind, closed the section on an emotional note. 

Throughout the Conference, Joël Stoppels took us on a tour of Gelderland. First, he visited the Freedom Museum in Groesbeek, where he interviewed the director, Wiel Lenders. Then he met the mayor of Nijmegen, Hubert Bruls, and eventually joined the Sunset March initiator, Tim Ruijling. The LRE Conference 2021 wrapped up with the words of Managing Director Rémi Praud and the view of a breath-taking sunset over the river Waal. 

LRE Foundation establishes the LRE United Kingdom

The LRE Foundation continues to grow and it is with great excitement that we announce the creation of our national branch in the United Kingdom, the LRE UK!

The LRE Foundation is an international organisation behind various remembrance projects such as Liberation Route Europe – the certified Cultural Route following in the footsteps of the Allied advance in WWII – and Europe Remembers – the online portal for remembrance events and sites throughout Europe. By establishing LRE UK, the foundation intends to extend its network, and connect and promote the main sites of the WWII British history and heritage by including them in the Liberation Route Europe trails network.

Historian and battlefield guide, Ben Mayne has been appointed as director of the LRE UK and will help the LRE Foundation on setting up new projects in the country. Rémi Praud, managing director of the LRE Foundation, about this new step forward: “We are happy with the development of this new national branch. It is a great way to improve our work in the UK and to extend our activities. We thank Ben and those who supported this launch and we are looking forward to a fruitful cooperation with our members and new partners in the UK”.

The LRE UK’s main ambition is to develop the Liberation Route UK, a network of British remembrance trails that will link to the Liberation Route Europe hiking trails, an international route connecting sites that commemorate the British and Allies advance to liberate Europe in WWII. The Hampshire county and the city of Portsmouth will serve as a starting base, given their incredible role during the preparation and execution of the D-Day.

With this network of trails, the LRE UK will work to highlight a vast British cultural landscape that, for the most part, has remained hidden in the past 75 years. In collaboration with the LRE Foundation’s partners, in the country and abroad, the LRE UK will strive to make this core part of British history more visible and accessible to visitors from across the world.

Ben Mayne, director of the LRE UK: “It is with great honour that I have accepted the responsibility to create the LRE UK. As an historian and battlefield guide, I know the importance of creating a lasting legacy for the younger generations and prompting the history and heritage that surround us. LRE UK will look to work alongside councils, tourism boards, schools, forestry commissions and museums to develop further the Liberation Route UK trails network. As seen when developing the LRE Italy branch back in 2014, this initial phase will require time, efforts and funding. We hope that the National Lottery Heritage Fund will provide us with the support we need to develop this project further.

The national branch is off to a successful start since it will have four extraordinary ambassadors to support its development. Alan King, Mervyn Kersh, and Reg Charles, British veterans who took part in the D-Day and the liberation of continental Europe, together with Andrew Wright, son of the late Fred Wright, Royal Engineers, will form a committee that will provide the LRE UK’s network with suggestions and recommendations. This is the start of a long road, through which the LRE UK aims to promote the history and heritage of WWII and transmit the lasting legacy of the veterans.

LRE Foundation establishes the LRE United Kingdom –Press release (PDF)