The Home Army Museum in Krakow joins the LRE Foundation Network

The LRE Foundation is delighted to announce that the Home Army Museum in Krakow (Muzeum Armii Krajowej) has joined its network. With the signature of the membership agreement, the Home Army Museum becomes the second Polish member, following the Museum of Gdańsk which joined in February 2022.

The Museum of the Home Army, located in Krakow, is dedicated to preserving the memory of the Polish Underground State and the Home Army established in Poland, as the largest resistance group in occupied Europe during the Second World War. The museum is a cultural institution with a large collection of historical artefacts and is operated by the City of Krakow and the Lesser Poland Province.

Rémi Praud, Managing Director of the LRE Foundation: “We are happy that the Home Army Museum decided to join the Foundation as a member. This new partnership offers us the possibility to further explore the heritage of the Polish Underground State and Home Army and to include the related remembrance sites and stories in our initiatives. Their participation will enrich our network, bringing to the table a new valuable Polish perspective on the Second World War, and we hope that their example will inspire other parties in Poland to join our mission.” 

As the Home Army Museum, we are honored to be a new member of the LRE Foundation and have the opportunity to expand our educational activities to the European level. We see great potential in this cooperation, for dialogue with other countries and exchange experiences, especially at a time when there is war going on beyond our eastern border. In this way, we hope to constantly keep history in mind and commemorate the past events, including the fate of the Home Army soldiers – the largest resistance movement during World War II.” tells Dr. Marek Lasota – Director of the Home Army Museum.


© Photo: M. Żak / Home Army Museum




New Liberation Route Europe theme routes in Limburg explore the liberation of the province

The Dutch province of Limburg becomes part of the international Liberation Route Europe hiking trails system with unique themed routes dedicated to its liberation. The itinerary runs for more than 300 kilometers from Mesch to Mook, through the whole region, and includes over 100 sites and stories linked to the final phases of the Second World War.

In September 2022, the trails will be presented in Mesch, where American troops crossed the Belgian-Dutch border for the first time in 1944. Meanwhile, the routes through Limburg and more than 100 stories can be explored on the Liberation Route Europe website. Besides two main itineraries connecting sites in Limburg, Liberation Route Europe also introduced four shorter hikes to explore the history in the region of South-Limburg and the towns of Gennep, Venlo and Nederweert. The website and newly launched Liberation Route mobile app allow visitors to easily plan their walks along the new theme routes and discover the rich WWII history of the province of Limburg.

The LRE Foundation, initiator of the Liberation Route Europe, has been working closely with Limburg Marketing, Routebureau Noord- en Midden-Limburg, Routepunt Visit Zuid-Limburg and historian Fred Cammaert on these walking routes about the Liberation of Limburg. This innovative sustainable project has been funded by the Province of Limburg, all municipalities in Limburg, Ons WCL Midden-Limburg and the vfonds (National Fund for Peace, Freedom and Veteran Care).

The Liberation of Limburg
As early as 12 September 1944, the villages of Mesch, Mheer and Noorbeek in the south of Limburg were liberated. At that time, nobody thought that the liberation of the rest of the province would take another six months and would entail brutal fights. Whereas the largest part of southern Limburg did not suffer significant damage due to the lack of Nazi resistance, a fierce battle soon broke out in the central and northern parts of the province. Thousands of soldiers and civilians lost their lives. Artillery shelling, bombardments, looting, raids, deportations and forced evacuations determined everyday life for months. Places like Venlo, Venray and Gennep changed into a wasteland of rubble.

Only on 3 March 1945 did the Allied troops arrive in the villages of Arcen, Velden and Bergen, and Well in North Limburg. Their arrival marked the end of the Nazi occupation in the entire province. The price of freedom had been immense and had left an indelible sign. Today, hundreds of monuments, museums and memorials keep this painful yet crucial memory alive.   

To follow in the footsteps of history in Limburg and discover more locations along the Liberation Route Europe, visit the website or download the new Liberation Route Europe mobile app here. 

The LRE Foundation’s Historical Advisory Board welcomes three new members

The LRE Foundation is delighted to introduce three new members to its Historical Advisory Board: Prof. Katja Makhotina, Prof. Kees Ribbens, and Dr. Benoît Niederkorn. The three new historians from different countries and backgrounds, share distinguished careers in WWII memory transmission and remembrance.

The Historical Advisory Board, comprised of leading historians, works to define the Foundation’s historical scope and supervises the content and research development. Together with the International Supervisory Board, which oversees the organisation’s administration, this body holds a crucial role in the LRE Foundation and its doing.

Prof. Katja Makhotina is a Professor of History at the Department of Eastern European History at the University of Bonn (Germany). Her main research areas are remembrance culture of WWII and Stalinism in Russia, Central and Eastern Europe and Lithuania. Prof. Makhotina is a member of several advisory boards of memorials in Germany and a founding member of a working group to establish a new Documentation Centre about the German occupation in Europe (to be located in Berlin by the German Historical Museum). About her new role as part of the Historical Advisory Board, Prof. Makhotina said: “The LRE Foundation keeps the civic spark of memory alive – an important prerequisite for a critical view of the past and the present. I am pleased to be able to accompany this concern as part of the advisory board.”

Prof. Kees Ribbens is a Senior Researcher at NIOD (Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies) and Professor of ‘Popular historical culture of Global Conflicts and Mass Violence’ at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Ribbens joins the LREF Historical Advisory Board and enriches it with his knowledge and interest in public history, commemorations, museums, history education and social imagery linked to war experience. “Contemporary encounters with World War II can occur in various forms. Tourism too plays a role in this, in which curiosity can lead to greater knowledge and a better understanding of this dramatic twentieth-century past. In my research on the culture of remembrance of the war and the Holocaust, I have noticed the opportunities tourism offers for keeping this history alive, particularly in an international context. That makes it valuable to be involved in the ongoing work of Liberation Route Europe.” Prof. Ribbens stated, “The NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies has played a role in documenting and analysing the history of the Second World War ever since the Liberation of the Netherlands. Drawing on the knowledge acquired here about what happened then and the post-war impact and significance it has, I look forward to contributing to the Historical Advisory Board.”, he concluded.

The last addition, Dr. Benoît Niederkorn, is the curator and director of the National Museum of Military History in Diekirch (Luxembourg) since 2017. Niderkorn’s main research interests are the history of war and society and the history of the Luxembourgish Armed Forces in the 19th and 20th centuries. “Luxembourg is rich in WWII history and cultural heritage. Many monuments and stories linked to the Battle of the Bulge and more are worth being researched and conveyed. I am glad to be joining the LREF Historical Board. LRE Foundation’s experience, combined with the archives of the National Military Museum, can help the Luxembourgish Ministry of Culture in its mission to improve the country’s hiking trails and provide valuable stories for those hiking along the Liberation Route Europe theme routes.”, Dr. Benoît Niederkorn said regarding his entrance in the LREF Historical Advisory Board. 

LRE Foundation signs Memorandum of Understanding with the Maison de la Randonnée – GTA Belgique

We are delighted to announce that the LRE Foundation (LREF) and the Maison de la Randonnée – GTA Belgique have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and partnership to promote the Freedom Trail (Chemins de la Liberté ®) in the Belgian Ardennes.

GTA Belgium has been active in the Ardennes since the 1980s and has developed many famous touristic trails, such as the Transardennaise. The organisation’s expertise in outdoor recreation represents an excellent asset for developing the LRE Foundation’s European trail system – the Liberation Route Europe hiking trails – which follow in the footsteps of the Allies during the latter phase of the Second World War (1943-45).

The LRE Foundation and GTA Belgium will work together to promote the Freedom Trail, a 68 km signposted loop trail starting in Bastogne that will lead hikers to discover various remembrance sites in the Bastogne region and part of the history of the famous Battle of the Bulge. This route crosses the municipalities of Vaux-sur-Sûre, Sainte-Ode, Bertogne and Bastogne. The Freedom Trail is identified by a 1:25,000 IGN map and Road Books translated into three languages (FR – NL – GB). The Freedom Trail becomes a core part of the Liberation Route Europe, together with the recently launched themed route in the Ardennes. Together, LREF and GTA Belgium will also work on the touristic promotion of the many historical sites present in the area and a unique visitor experience.

“The Freedom Trail is a mythical route that leads us to the events of the Second World War,” explains Denis Jusseret, president of the Maison de la Randonnée – GTA – Belgium. “A route that expresses the deep meaning of this history. It connects the main sites of the Memory of the Second World War located among others on the perimeter of the Battle of Bastogne. Its path between forest and countryside, over hills and valleys, can only fill us with wonder in the middle of nature.”

“The signing of this partnership will allow us to further extend the Liberation Route in the Belgian Ardennes, and the major GTA hiking trails we developed at length to commemorate the Battle of the Bulge will also gain more visibility”, stated Rémi Praud, Managing Director of the LRE Foundation. “In that respect, working with GTA – Belgium is a valuable asset, and I am very much looking forward to this important collaboration”, he added.


© Photo: IJusseret / Bois de la Paix

LRE Foundation receives Belgian National Lottery grant for the development of the Liberation Route Europe

At the beginning of 2022, the Belgian National Lottery decided to support the Liberation Route Europe hiking trails by granting part of its yearly subsidies to the LRE Foundation. The significant amount allocated to the project helps the foundation move forward in the route expansion and historical research in Belgium. Furthermore, the grant will help develop the Liberation Route digital platforms, including the website (and online travel planner) and the recently launched mobile app (now available for Android and iOS!).  

Every year, the Belgian National Lottery devotes a significant portion of its game revenue to financing numerous social projects on the Belgian territory in various fields such as culture, sport, research, development, solidarity and more. 

Sammy Mahdi, Secretary of State Asylum & Migration, in charge of the National Lottery of Belgium: “Thanks to our players, every year we are able to support significant causes all around Belgium. The National Lottery, its players and I are pleased to support such an important project as the Liberation Route Europe hiking trails. We wish you every success.” 

Liberation Route Europe is the transnational itinerary that links the central regions that marked the end of the Second World War. Since 2021, people can experience the route in a new way, by walking or hiking, thanks to an extended network of trails connecting WWII remembrance sites and stories across Europe. Thanks to the new digital offer consisting of a renewed website and mobile app, people can easily plan their trips along the Liberation Route by exploring the trails and reading many stories about the end of WWII in Europe.  

Rémi Praud, Managing Director of the LRE Foundation: “We would like to deeply thank the Belgian National Lottery for the support and trust. Thanks to the grant received, we will be able to expand and promote the hiking trails system in Belgium and add new stories and sites to the Liberation Route Europe website and mobile app.”