Launch of the new Liberation Route Europe Walking Route “In the Footsteps of the Canadian Liberators”

Yesterday, May 29th, the LRE Foundation, in collaboration with Erfgoed Zeeland and Provincie Zeeland, proudly launched the new Liberation Route Europe walking route in the Netherlands, titled “In the Footsteps of the Canadian Liberators.” This project, funded by Vfonds, highlights the crucial role of Canadian soldiers in the liberation of the Netherlands during World War II. The route includes several Vectors of Memory, designed by American architect Daniel Libeskind, which serve as markers to highlight major historical events and stories. 

Spanning over 1,500 kilometres, the new national walking route stretches from Zeeland to Groningen. It includes various museums, cemeteries, and other historical sites, featuring well-known and lesser-known stories from the final phase of World War II, such as the Battle of the Scheldt, Operation Veritable, and the liberation of the Northern Netherlands.

This new route is a vital addition to the Canadian Liberation Route, enriching the Liberation Route Europe hiking trail network. It retraces the steps of Canadian liberators in the Netherlands during 1944-45 and explores the resistance’s role, the actions of secret agents, and the experiences of ordinary citizens.

Yesterday’s ceremony, supported by the Municipality of Sluis, Village Council Retranchement, and Village Hall d’Ouwe Kerke, included the unveiling of a Vector of Memory at the Hickman Bridge in Retranchement. The 1.80-meter-high Vector of Memory commemorates the bridge constructed by the Royal Canadian Engineers over the Uitwatering Canal in October 1944. Named after their fallen sergeant, the ‘Hickman Bridge’ allowed Canadian troops to eliminate the last pockets of resistance around Knokke.

The launch ceremony at the Hickman Bridge was a beautiful moment, featuring speeches from Marga Vermue, Mayor of the Municipality of Sluis, Alderman Patricia van de Vijver, and Military Attaché at the Embassy of Canada, Colonel Marc Lafortune. Reflections on freedom were also shared by the oldest and youngest residents of Retranchement.

Following the ceremony, all guests went to the local Village Hall for the opening of the fascinating photo exhibition “1940-1945 Retranchement Terhofstede” about the town’s history during WWII.

LRE Foundation’s branch in the UK welcomes two new partners in East Anglia

As the LRE UK branch continues to grow, we are pleased to announce two new partners, Parham Airfield and Bawdsey Radar Trust, located in East Anglia, one of the focus areas of LRE UK. Building on the Masters of the Air inspired Themed Route launched in January, work continues to bring this beautiful, historically significant area into the LRE network. 

Parham Airfield Museum opened in 1981 as a memorial to the 743 young airmen, mainly of the 390th Bomb Group (Heavy) United States Army Air Force (USAAF), who were based at Station 153 Framlingham between 1943 and 1945. The centre also houses the Museum of the British Resistance Organisation, dedicated to the men and women of the Auxiliary Units who were trained in underground resistance in case of invasion and occupation. The museum houses extensive collections of artefacts, archives and memorabilia relating mainly to the air war over Europe and the Resistance Organisation. 

The museum will soon commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, in which the 390th Bomb Group took part, flying three missions on 6 June. Additionally, several thousand auxiliaries joined the Special Air Service, with many sent to France for sabotage operations behind German lines. The museum maintains strong links with the families of US veterans and members of the secret resistance forces. 

We are proud to become part of LRE, which matches our mission to show visitors how an earlier generation were prepared to give their all to defend freedom. All is quiet on the old airfield now and dozens of B17s no longer lift off the runways, but we will not forget... [LRE] is great to become part of a movement that seeks to encourage visits to our site in a sustainable way.” – Peter Senior, Chair of Trustees at Parham Airfield Museum. 

The Bawdsey Radar Trust focuses on preserving the history of radar technology and was founded in 2003 as the Bawdsey Radar Group, following a high turnout of 950 visitors to the newly opened transmitter block in July 2003. The museum stands on the site of the world’s first fully operational radar station. This station marked the beginning of the construction of a chain of radar stations all along the coast, designed as an early warning system to protect Britain during World War Two. The Bawdsey Radar Museum tells the story of radar from its beginnings to modern times and is situated adjacent to the Suffolk Coast Path. This sixty-mile trail from historic Landguard Point in Felixstowe to Lowestoft is a path which passes along the length of Suffolk’s beautiful Heritage Coast” 

“The Bawdsey Radar Trust is delighted to commence its cooperation with the LRE Foundation in extending its memorial trail connecting WWII remembrance sites and stories across Europe.” – Peter Wain, Bawdsey Radar Trust Trustee. 

The third Resistance Through Their Eyes youth event took place in Munich last week 

From 10 to 13 May 2024 the Weisse Rose Stiftung e.V. hosted the third edition of the “Resistance Through Their Eyes” youth event at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) in Munich. More than 100 students from four different schools participated in various workshops teaching them about stories of resistance during the Second World War. 

Coordinated by the LRE Foundation and funded by the European Union, Resistance Through Their Eyes is a collaborative project that aims to broaden a multi-perspective, transnational understanding of the theme of resistance during the Second World War. Alongside theLRE Foundation, key partners including the Milan Municipality (Italy), the Institute Ferruccio Parri (Italy), the Resistance Museum Amsterdam (The Netherlands), The White Rose Foundation (Germany) and the Home Army Museum Krakow (Poland), have come together to bring this initiative to life.  

On Wednesday, 15 May 2024, LMU Professor Michele Barricelli gave a public lecture on resistance to National Socialism as a historical root of Europe. The lecture was followed by a panel discussion introduced by Dr. Hildegard Kronawitter, featuring Stefanie Fehlhammer, Dr. Edith Koller and Jos Sinnema and moderated by Isabella Schmid. The discussion focussed on the exhibition “Resistance Through Their Eyes” which was displayed at the university from May 4 to June 20, 2024, and will be shown from October 13, 2024, to April 21, 2025, at the Badehaus Memorial Site in Upper Bavaria. The exhibition portrays 16 individuals from the Netherlands, Poland, Italy, and Germany who resisted the National Socialist regime.

The nephew of White Rose member Alexander Schmorell, Markus Schmorell, and the grandson of Professor Kurt Huber, Stephan Weiß, were present during the discussion. Another participant was Mirosław Kosior whose father Henryk Kosior is one of the exhibition’s protagonists. A more detailed version of the exhibition containing 32 biographies can be viewed online by anyone wishing to find out more about people’s resistance during the Second World War. 

These kinds of events are extremely necessary and impactful, and having the family members of the exhibitions’ protagonists present gave the participants the opportunity to immerse themselves even deeper into their stories.” says Joanna Roman, Project Manager at the LRE Foundation. “The youth event in Munich serves as a great example of what can be done in the remembrance sector by organising meetings with people who are personally involved in the topic and with an audience that craves this type of content.”

By illustrating different perspectives of real-life war experiences, young people are encouraged to take a stand against the oppression of minorities and injustices in society. “Resistance Through Their Eyes” aims to promote civil courage, personal responsibility and democratic awareness and fosters a young generation that stands for tolerance, acceptance of others and respect for human rights. 

The fourth and last “Resistance Through Their Eyes” youth event will take place in Kraków, Poland.

We are thrilled to announce the establishment of LRE Poland!

The LRE Foundation is a growing international organization responsible for projects that aim to preserve and valorize the cultural heritage related to the Second World War. It has national representations in multiple European countries including Brussels, Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy and UK. The newly created LRE Poland has recently joined this group with Joanna Roman, a historian and project manager being in charge of it.

LRE Poland aims to explore the projects of the LRE Foundation such as Liberation Route Europe or Europe Remembers within the Polish context, including the creation of a new Polish network of trails and the establishment of lasting collaborations in the region.

Rémi Praud, Managing Director of the LRE Foundation, commented on this significant step: “The establishment of LRE Poland marks a milestone in promoting remembrance activities in this country. We are proud of Joanna and those who supported this launch, and we look forward to future cooperation with our Polish partners.” Over the past years, successful collaborations have been established in Poland with institutions such as the Museum of Gdańsk, the Home Army Museum, the Sybir Memorial Museum and the Grodzka Gate-NN Theatre Centre in Lublin. In addition, LRE Poland is also cooperating with universities and other WWII institutions to further develop its network.

Future plans include coordination of partnerships in Eastern Europe, covering Czechia, Slovakia, the Baltic States, Moldova, the Balkans, and beyond. Joanna Roman, the new Director of the LRE Poland: “I’m thrilled to commence this meaningful and responsible journey of creating and implementing WWII remembrance initiatives and to cooperate with local partners and authorities. I believe it will play a vital role in making the complex Polish WWII history a coherent part of European memory. I’m honoured to be working on building bridges between great institutions and regions as we collectively strive to make WWII history accessible to everyone.”

Currently, the efforts of the Foundation focus on building a network of members and partners and organizing the LRE Forum 2025, which will take place in Krakow between March 10 and 13.

This is just the starting point of an exciting journey, through which LRE Poland aims to promote the history and heritage of WWII and to commemorate its veterans.

SAVE THE DATE | The LRE Forum 2025 will take place in Krakow, Poland, from 10-13 March

After the successful LRE Forum 2024 in Aachen, Germany, we are thrilled to announce the upcoming LRE Forum 2025, jointly organised by the LRE Foundation and LRE Poland, to be held in Krakow, Poland, from 10 to 13 March. The city’s historical significance, particularly during the Second World War, makes it an especially interesting location for the annual gathering of the LRE Foundation. 

Each year, the LRE Forum serves as a platform for the Foundation’s members and partners, as well as tourism stakeholders from across the globe, to engage in various activities aimed at sharing innovative ideas and best practices. It provides a unique opportunity for participants to learn, network, and foster new collaborations. This year marks the 9th edition of the LRE Forum, initiated in Brussels back in 2017. Since then, it has grown in terms of participation and is increasingly becoming a central networking event within the World War II heritage sector.

Starting on Monday, 10 March, the LRE Forum 2025 promises a diverse agenda of lectures, panel discussions, and interactive sessions, providing attendees with insights into the best practices and opportunities within the remembrance sector. As with previous editions, the participants will have many opportunities to connect with fellow LRE Foundation members. However, networking and idea exchange will take on an even more important role this time, with multiple networking sessions planned to encourage connections and collaboration across the network.

In addition, the LRE Forum will facilitate networking with travel industry stakeholders during the annual LREXPO (12 March) and offer site visits to significant local museums, and memorials. To further enrich the experience of our participants during their time in Poland we are also organising a guided tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.

Save the date for the LRE Forum 2025 in Krakow, Poland, and get ready to exchange innovative ideas and best practices with the network! Stay tuned to our website and social media accounts (LinkedIn and X) for further details and updates.

Launch of new Liberation Route Europe trails in the Rivierenland  

Today, May 3rd, the LRE Foundation, together with four municipalities in the Rivierenland and the province of Gelderland, launches four new hiking and cycling trails in the Rivierenland in the Netherlands. This project shed light on the lesser-known history of the western Gelderland River area, that was among one of the hardest-hit regions in the Netherlands during World War II.  

The project aims to create a network of trails that informs the public about local history and create a better connection between different parts of the region. This collaborative effort involves the municipalities of West-Betuwe, Neder-Betuwe, Tiel and Buren, along with the Regionaal Archief Rivierenland, represented by Sil van Doornmalen, and the Flipje en Streekmuseum/ WO2 Informatiecentrum Rivierengebied. Local historians have also contributed to highlighting important POIs and stories about the wartime period in the Rivierenland. 

Today, May 3, marks the official launch of the five Liberation Route Europe trails: a themed hiking route in Tiel, three cycling routes spanning West-Betuwe, Neder-Betuwe, and Buren, and a comprehensive regional route for both hiking and cycling, covering over 230 kilometres and linking all aforementioned municipalities. 

The day’s agenda includes ceremonies across each municipality. Attendees will include local and national journalists, reenactors, Scottish pipe drum players, and representatives from the LRE Foundation, notably Honorary Chairman Jurriaan de Mol and LREF Project Officer Wout van Aalst. 

The ceremonies will feature the unveiling of a Vector of Memory, sharing historical anecdotes, commemorations, and most importantly, underlining the significance of the new Liberation Route Europe trails in the Rivierenland area. The day’s events will culminate in Tiel at the WO2 Informatiecentrum Rivierengebied. 

The impressive content and stories that have been collected, represent the impact the Second World War had on the people living in the Rivierenland.” says Wout van Aalst, project officer at the LRE Foundation. “Different perspectives and stories came to light: fighting in the resistance, the mobilization of the Dutch army, collaboration with German troops and the total destruction of certain areas, only to name a few. Collecting these stories together with the different partners and people involved, made working in the Rivierenland a real pleasure.”