Three new French members are joining the LRE Foundation

The LRE Foundation network is constantly expanding, and we are excited to announce that La Coupole – History Center, the D-Day Museum Arromanches, and the City of Calais have joined us and our French national branch, LRE France.

These three new members are an important step in the activity of LRE France which just started this year. Each one represents an important part of our common history. With their own specificities, they will be able to contribute to the development of LRE France and benefit from the international dynamics of our network. I am delighted to welcome them and to be able to work with them on projects that make sense to them and that illustrate our common ambitions to raise awareness and make the history of the Second World War accessible.”, says Isabelle Lebreton, LRE France Director. 

Located five kilometers from Saint-Omer in northern France, La Coupole is one of Europe’s most impressive Second World War historical monuments. Today, La Coupole is home to the History and Memory Center, where visitors can learn about the historical and scientific stakes of WWII, from the Occupation to the hidden side of space conquest. In addition to transmitting information in the fields of memory, history, and science, La Coupole is the bearer of humanist values, making it a place for reflection, awareness raising, and citizenship education. 

La Coupole is currently developing content and ideas for the Liberation Route Europe Trails as a first step in its collaboration with the LRE Foundation. Furthermore, on 19th April, it will host the first LRE France outreach event. 

La Coupole is pleased to join the LRE network. Located in a former V2 rocket base, it is the main history centre dedicated to the Second World War in Hauts-de-France. With a resource centre, memorial spaces and a planetarium, it aims to transmit history, science and memory, particularly to the younger generations.”, says Philippe Queste, La Coupole’s Director. 

As a major cultural facility in Calvados and Normandy, the D-Day Museum Arromanches ‘s mission is to present its collections – particularly the construction of the Mulberry B artificial harbor, the remains of which can still be seen outside the museum – while developing an accessible discourse about the history of the D-Day landings. It is the first museum built in the aftermath of WWII to commemorate D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. The establishment will be renovated in 2023 and will open on 1st April.  

As with La Coupole, the first step in the collaboration between LREF and the D-Day Museum will be the integration of the Liberation Route Europe Trails with the museum’s projects and activities. 

“Following the inauguration of the Liberation Route Europe in Arromanches in 2014, the museum is now pleased to join the LRE Foundation and LRE France and thus associate itself with their actions.”, asserts Frédéric Sommier, D-Day Museum’s Managing Director. 

Because of its strategic location, the city of Calais in northern France was heavily impacted by the Second World War. From 24th to 26th May 1940, the city led a valiant fight resistance and it was later transformed into a preparation and embarkation zone for Operation Seelöwe (which planned the landing of German troops on the United Kingdom). Eventually, it was incorporated into the development of the Atlantic Wall.

Calais offers a WWII City Tour, and – as one of the new partnership’s first goals – some of its historical content will be integrated into the Liberation Route Europe Trails. 

The city of Calais is happy to join the LRE Foundation, to work together on the Liberation Route Europe trails, on the paths of Memory, and to recall the high places of resistance and the courage of the population of Calais, and the continuous homage to the liberators.”, Natacha Bouchart, Mayor of Calais, stated. 

The LRE Foundation holds outreach events throughout Europe

In the coming weeks, the LRE Foundation along with members and partners, will hold outreach events in several European countries, including the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and France. These events are being funded by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in the Hague. 

The primary goal of all these outreach events is to present the work of the LRE Foundation and the Liberation Route Europe project, with a particular emphasis on its interaction with local history and tourism, and to raise awareness among both regional and national stakeholders. Each event features different speakers and topics, providing a diverse range of perspectives.


On Monday 13th, our Programme manager Peter Kruk was in Maczek Memorial Breda, West-Brabant Region, where numerous WWII-themed cycling and walking routes are held. There, the LRE Foundation, Brabant Herinnert, VisitBrabant, and VisitBrabant Routebureau co-organised the first of three outreach events in the Netherlands to present the Liberation Route Europe project. The same event took place seven days later, on 20th March, in the Museum Wings of Liberation, East-Brabant Region.  

Earlier this month, similar events took place in Terneuzen, Kapelle and Flushing in Zeeland-region. Many organizations debated how to link sites and stories commemorating the Battle of the Scheldt. Our new Battle of the Scheldt Hiking Trail was an inspiring example. 

Krakow, Poland 

The first outreach event in Poland took place on 16th March. This was a critical step in involving stakeholders in the development of the upcoming LRE branch. Joanna Roman, LREF Project Manager, organised the meeting, which was hosted by the Home Army Museum in Krakow. Local and regional authorities and institutions from Krakow and other cities were present, as were current members of the LRE Foundation: Museum of Gdansk and “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Center in Lublin. The Liberation Route Europe Hiking Trails project was highlighted as part of an informative session dedicated to introducing those present to the activities of the LRE Foundation. The following guest presentations and Q&A session explored the feasibility of implementing such a project in Poland. A closing discussion demonstrated the participants’ commitment and initial ideas for collaboration. 

Vogelsang, Germany 

Another outreach event took place on 17th March in Vogelsang IP in the National Park Eifel, Germany. Gotthard Kirch, Managing Director of LRE North Rhine-Westphalia and board member of LRE Germany, and Peter Kruk introduced the Liberation Route Europe project, followed by an interesting speech on the concept of “liberation” by Dr Heiko Suhr (City of Wesel Archives and board member of LRE Germany). Dr Suhr illustrated the various stages of the WWII memory-building process in Germany, pointing out that there is no single liberation experience, neither in Europe nor in any single country. At the same time, he explained “Liberation makes a common remembering in Europe possible […] and creates one of the foundations for a united Europe”. The Vogelsang outreach event concluded with attendees participating in three thematic round tables about future developments of LREF projects.

Upcoming outreach events 

This round of outreach activities doesn’t end here! Four more are scheduled for the coming weeks. 

Following one in Portsmouth and later Lincoln earlier this year, on 24th March the Churchill War Rooms in London will host the third outreach event in the UK. The goal of this event is to involve future key stakeholders in the country and raise awareness to the creation and aims of the LRE hiking trails project and the UK national branch, LRE UK. 

Another outreach event will take place in the Netherlands on 29th March, this time in Huyskamer De Daaltjeshoeve in Nederweert. Limburg Marketing is organising this meeting in collaboration with Routebureau Noord- en Midden-Limburg and Visit Zuid-Limburg to promote the Liberation Route Hiking Trails in Limburg.  

On 30th March it is Belgium’s turn: an outreach event will be organised at the Bastogne War Museum in collaboration with asbl Bastogne Memorial to present the Liberation Route Europe project in the Ardennes to political representatives, institutional actors, and associations involved in remembrance tourism both in Belgium and Luxembourg. 

Finally, on 19th April, the LRE Foundation will be in France with its national branch for an outreach event at La Coupole Museum. 

We are pleased to see the enthusiastic responses of many European regions to the Liberation Route Europe Hiking and Cycling Trails project, and to see our network expanding across Europe.  

Follow us on social media to stay up to date on the upcoming outreach events! 

The LRE Foundation welcomes a new prominent member: the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge

The LRE is delighted to announce the recent addition of the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge to its network.  

The Volksbund (German War Graves Commission) is dedicated to the task of locating and recovering war dead abroad, providing a dignified burial for them, and maintaining their gravesites, in more than 46 countries. Moreover, it is committed to the culture of commemoration and remembrance and offers international youth initiatives such as the ‘Peace Line’ project, which promotes the education of young people at the final resting sites of those lost to war.  

The LRE Foundation and the Volksbund will work together on developing and expanding existing projects in Germany, such as the Liberation Route Europe, its network, and the Europe Remembers platform, as well as new programmes and projects based on shared ideas. In particular, the two organisations will cooperate on youth engagement through a combined effort, with the aim of reinforcing each other’s initiatives. 

Rémi Praud, Managing Director of LRE Foundation, said of the new membership: “We are very happy to welcome the Volksbund into our foundation, and look forward to working with such a committed and impactful organisation. We desire to expand our partnerships in Germany, and with Volksbund as a member, a cooperation is established, which will enrich the LRE network and pave the way for valuable exchanges on memory transmission and the future of commemoration, as well as more awareness of the many war graves across Europe”. 

“The cooperation with the LRE offers the Volksbund the opportunity to draw attention to the war graves abroad. Here, visitors get to feel and experience the changing history of the historical sites, and learn about the value of peace in Europe”, Dirk Backen, Secretary General of the Volksbund, added.

LRE Forum 2023: a look back at this very special edition! 

Two weeks ago, the LRE Forum 2023, organised by the LRE Foundation and LRE Italy with the contribution and patronage of Regione Toscana and Toscana Promozione Turistica, was held in the picturesque city of Florence. For three days, events and activities brought together a variety of international members and partners of the organising institutions, as well as tourism stakeholders from across the World War II remembrance sector. 

We are extremely grateful for the considerable turnout at all the Forum events. Indeed, one of the main goals of the LRE Foundation is to bring together international WWII memory stakeholders to facilitate international cooperation and multi-perspective discussion on WWII history and remembrance. It makes us proud to see that this goal was reflected in our annual gathering. 

The welcome cocktail

The LRE Forum 2023 began on Thursday 28th February, with a welcome cocktail on the B-roof, the famous Hotel Baglioni’s rooftop. This beautiful venue welcomed us with one of Florence’s most breath-taking views. Rémi Praud, LREF Managing Director, and Carlo Puddu. LRE Italy Director, greeted all LREF members and partners with welcome speeches, officially opening the LRE Forum 2023.

The Member Seminar 

The Member Seminar began the following day at the Auditorium al Duomo. During the first part of the event, Rémi Praud and his team spoke to LREF members and partners about the LREF Governance and Network, discussing the latest news on the Foundation’s National Branches, the Member Council, and the LRE Guide Network. The LRE Foundation Team, alongside project partners’ representatives, then provided updates on some of the most important LREF projects, including the Liberation Route Europe Hiking Trails, Europe Remembers, the LRE Youth Programme, and “Resistance Through Their Eyes” project. Later, some members and partners presented their organisations’ best practices and most recent news. Finally, Jordi Guixé, Scientific Director of the European Observatory on Memories, led a thematic session on the diverse challenges of WWII Memory in Europe. 

The LRE Conference 

That same afternoon, the LRE Conference welcomed more than 110 participants from all over Europe and North America. The event was moderated by British author and historian, Keith Lowe, and opened with a keynote speech by Georgiy Kasianov, Head of the Laboratory of International Memory Studies at Maria Curie-Skodowska University in Lublin. Professor Kasianov spoke about the use and abuse of WWII Memory and its repercussions in the Ukraine Region, in Europe, and globally. 

This speech was followed by a panel debate on the complex relationship between nationalism and WWII memory. The panel featured Áron Máthé, Deputy Chair of the Committee of National Remembrance of Hungary, Guri Schwarz, Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Genoa, Jade McGlynn, researcher at the Department of War Studies, Kings College, and Kees Ribbens, Professor at the Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam. It was fascinating to hear various approaches and points of view on such a complex subject. 

For the second part of the LRE Conference, the main topic was the political pressures that museum curators and museologists must contend with in order to frame WWII memory in a particular way. The panel discussion included current and former museum directors such as Gundula Bavendamm, Director of the Documentation Centre for Displacement, Expulsion, and Reconciliation in Berlin, Paweł Machcewicz, Professor at the Institute of Political Studies in Warsaw, and Kaja Širok, researcher at the University of Nova Gorica’s School of Humanities. 

To conclude the conference, Keith Lowe interviewed Katrin Himmler, German author, Political Scientist and great-niece of Heinrich Himmler, head of Hitler’s SS. During the interview she discussed how crucial it was for her to confront her family’s story honestly, how her research changed her perspective on her relatives, and the significance of her work with students and young people. 

The Gala Dinner 

The second day of the LRE Forum 2023 concluded with a Gala dinner at the luxurious Palazzo Borghese. The stunning palace halls formed the ideal setting for presenting and welcoming the LRE Foundation’s new members and partners, networking, and enjoying each other’s company over some delicious Italian cuisine. 

The LREXPO and Site Visits 

On 2nd March, the LRE Forum 2023 continued with the annual thematic trade show, the LREXPO, allowing Foundation members and partners to connect and showcase their destinations to international tour operators and travel trade stakeholders. The EXPO was followed by the first part of the site visits. Participants visited the Museo Gotica Ponzalla at Giogo Pass, and then a surprisingly snowy Futa Pass for a visit to the German Military Cemetery. The weather made for an atmospheric visit, imagining the troops enduring so much in similar conditions during WWII. On the second day of site visits, participants had the opportunity to see the Florence American Cemetery, explore the Military Geographical Institute Florence, and participate in a Florence WW2 City Tour. 

FAM Trips 

Aside from site visits, FAM trips were organised for both European and North American tour operators. Following the Italy part of the FAM trip, which included visits to the Florence American Cemetery, the  Museum of Memory in Borgo a Mozzano, Lucca, and the Gotica Ponzalla Museum, tour operators from the United States and Canada then continued the trip from to the Netherlands and Belgium. Here they were greeted by several museums, hotels, and attractions along the Liberation Route Europe. This extended FAM trip was organised in collaboration with the European Travel Commission (co-funded by the European Union) and included visits to the Liberation Garden Museum in Leopoldsburg, Geronimo Museum, Fletcher Hotel Erica, the Canadian War Cemetery and Freedom Museum in Groesbeek, the beautiful Kröller-Müller Museum, and Gemeente Apeldoorn. 

We would like to express our gratitude to all attendees and supporters for helping to make this edition of the LRE Forum particularly special. We sincerely hope you had as wonderful of a time in Florence as we did, and that you returned home feeling inspired by the events and armed with fresh perspectives on how to raise awareness of World War II and make history more approachable to a wider audience.