Exploring Pilsen’s rich history: three new Themed Routes unveiled 

We are thrilled to announce that the LRE Foundation- in collaboration with the City of Pilsen – has created three new Liberation Route Europe themed routes through the Czech city steeped in World War II history. With a new network of hiking trails, anyone willing to discover the hidden gems of Pilsen gets the chance to experience the most significant sites, monuments and stories related to the city’s Occupation and Liberation.  

“Most foreign visitors are aware that Pilsen was probably the very last big city in Europe liberated by the US Army,” says Jan Engler, City of Pilsen’s marketing manager. “Not many know its role in the resistance, involvement with the airdrops of the Czechoslovak paratroopers from the United Kingdom or the story of the 2 613 Jews deported to the concentration camps. Thanks to the great cooperation and support of the LRE Foundation, tourists may discover the three new themed routes just by clicking on the Liberation Route Europe webpage. 

Starting at the symbolic Peace Square (náměstí Míru), one of the city’s first memorials, the path along the history of the Pilsen’s Liberation in May 1945 leads past numerous relevant sites like the Pilsen brewery complex, Klatovska Street 19 or the Patton Memorial Museum, honouring American General Patton, an important figure in the city’s liberation process.  

A second route takes you to the most interesting sites thematising the Pilsen Uprising against German occupiers on May 5, 1945. The trail showcases the triumphs and tribulations of Pilsen’s’ Resistance.  Notable landmarks include memorials like the Jindřich Křečan commemoration plaque at the Roosevelt Bridge.  

Allowing you to connect with the everyday lives and extraordinary stories of Pilsen’s inhabitants, a third themed route connects sites and monuments presenting the Civilian Experience in Pilsen. From the memorial plaque at Čechova Street to the Hotel Continental, the route encapsulates the stories of ordinary citizens, resistance fighters and the Jewish community during the Second World War. 

The new themed routes through Pilsen are opening the doors to a deeper understanding of the profound impact that World War II had on its streets and its people,” says Emerald Johnson, Project Officer at the LRE Foundation. “We are excited to share these new hiking trails, and we look forward to the meaningful experiences they will offer to all who embark on this historical journey with us.” 

Register now for the LRE Forum 2024 in Aachen 

Registration for the LRE Forum 2024 is now open. Register now to attend the LRE Foundation’s annual event, which will be held from the 26th to the 29th of February in Aachen, the first German city liberated during WWII. 

The four-day programme – organized by the LRE Foundation in cooperation with LRE Germany and LRE NRW – is designed to provide a varied range of activities for all attendees, including our members, partners, and tourism stakeholders. This includes dynamic panel discussions on contemporary subjects in WWII history and remembrance as well as various networking opportunities with organizations associated with WWII, historical tourism, cultural heritage, and international travel. 

The LRE Member Seminar on February 27 provides an opportunity for members to gather, exchange best practices, and receive Foundation updates. Following that, the LRE Conference has a diverse lineup of speakers, keynotes, panel discussions, and interviews delving into different methods for dealing with the complex legacy of World War II persecution. In the evening, the LRE Gala dining event serves as a valuable networking opportunity for Foundation members, key partners, and sponsors. 

February 28 will begin with the LREXPO, an annual exposition for remembering tourism that allows representatives from museums, memorial sites, cities, and regions to meet directly with travel industry stakeholders from Europe and North America. To complete the LRE Forum 2024, arranged site visits to some of the most notable historical locations in Aachen and its surroundings, including journeys to Vogelsang and the Hürtgen Forest, are offered. 

Take part in the LRE Forum 2024, register now here

Should you have any questions or doubts, don’t hesitate to reach out to event@liberationroute.com 

The fourth and final Persecution Through Their Eyes Youth Event was held in Buchenwald

The fourth and final Persecution Through Their Eyes youth event took place on November 7 at Buchenwald, marking a pivotal moment in the EU-funded initiative. This event, hosted at the Buchenwald Memorial, reflected the project’s main objective by encouraging young people to challenge historical misconceptions and contribute to the creation of a more empathetic and informed society. 

The day kicked off with the official opening of the project exhibition by representatives from the Buchenwald Memorial and the LRE Foundation. German students were the first to explore the various personal stories related to persecution during WWII in the exhibition at the Buchenwald Memorial, collaboratively prepared by all four project institutions: “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre in Lublin, Camp Vught National Memorial, Sant’Anna di Stazzema National Park of Peace and Buchenwald Memorial.  

Educational sessions for students were centred around these stories, with a primary focus on fostering critical thinking and a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding World War II events and their enduring impact. A meaningful highlight of the day was the engaging discussion among participants, delving into the causes and consequences of Nazi ideology. The debate provided a space for reflection, emphasizing the importance of remaining vigilant to radical ideas that might resurface in contemporary society. 

The project exhibition, along with its associated educational activities, will remain accessible at the Buchenwald Memorial until the end of March 2024, with the goal of reaching the widest possible audience. The culmination of the Persecution Through Their Eyes project is set to take place during the Conference at the LRE Forum 2024, scheduled in Aachen, Germany from 26-29 February. 

Joanna Roman, Project Manager at the LRE Foundation, said: ”It was a great privilege observing the growing engagement of students and their keen interest in discovering the stories featured in the project exhibition. Their feedback holds immense value for us – learning that they are enthusiastic about sharing these exhibition panels in their schools and realizing its potential proves our success in meeting the project’s goals to make WWII history accessible and relevant for young people.” 

In October, the third Persecution Through Their Eyes Youth Event was held in Lublin 

The third youth event part of the EU-fundend “ Persecution Through Their Eyes” project was organised throught the month of October in Lublin by “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre and integrated in a wider programme of activities designed to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the end of the devastating “Reinhardt” operation. This is the third youth event of the series, following the ones in Camp Vught National Memorial and Sant’Anna di Stazzema National Park of Peace.  

Operation Reinhardt resulted in a mass murder of Jews, the liquidation of ghetto and the execution of 40,000 prisoners in the Majdanek camp and its branches. The 80th anniversary of its conclusion served as an occasion for reflection on the subject of persecution during World War II

Over 100 students took part in educational activities that integrated the historical theme of WWII persecution with contemporary experiences of war, particularly in Ukraine. Several workshops were held that drew upon the biographies created for the “Persecution Through Their Eyes” project exhibition, which recounted a wide array of stories and experiences related to persecution during WWII concerning people from four different countries. Additionally, participants attended the theatrical performance “Borders of War”, which was created by young artists and told the stories of those experiencing war in Ukraine.  

The youth event concluded on October 30th at the Catholic University of Lublin. The halls of the university hosted students, teachers, representatives from the Lublin town, cultural institutions, and historians. The official launch of the exhibition was preceded by a panel discussion titled “The Experience of War,” organized in collaboration with the Department of History and Historiography of Central and Eastern Europe.  

On this occasion, students were able to listen to a unique recording featuring Rose Lipszyc, one of the exhibition’s protagonists. At the age of 94, Ms. Lipszyc shared her own wartime experiences, emphasizing the enduring importance of freedom and democracy after years of suffering and conflict.  

Overall, the youth event and educational activities provided an excellent opportunity to go further into a multi-perspective understanding of history and past and present conflicts. 

Joanna Roman, Project Manager at the LRE Foundation, highlighted the significance of events like the one in Lublin. She said, “Events such as the one organised in Lublin allow us to see the particular need for similar educational activities, which meet with great commitment from young participants and help to see the individual stories and perspectives of directly suffered the atrocities of WWII”. 

The “Persecution Through Their Eyes” project does not end here; another youth event is planned for November 7 at the Buchenwald Memorial in Germany. 

A new LREF body is brought to life: The Member’s Council  

On Wednesday, 11 October 2023 a selected array of representatives of the LRE member organisations came together to hold the first Member’s Council Meeting. In total thirteen members joined online, representing organisations from eight countries. 

The Member’s Council is an advisory body of the LRE Foundation recently established by the International Supervisory Board. It aims to give the Foundation’s members a representation in the organisation’s decision-making process. The Council enables the representatives to give feedback on current LREF programs, contribute to LREF strategies and conceptualize common projects. It is composed of at least one representative per country in which the LRE Foundation has one member organisation. If the country has more than one member organisation, at least two representatives will be welcomed.  

In the meeting, all the present representatives were given the opportunity to introduce themselves and get to know each other. In several rounds of discussion, the members shared their opinions and ideas on the composition of the Council, the possibility of a rotation system of mandates as well as deciding on the format and structure of future meetings. 

What became once again clear is that the experiences and perspectives of the represented organisations and countries on the Second World War and Liberation are very multifaceted, which should be reflected in the bodies functioning. To contribute to the diversity of the Council, the Members intend to form several Working Groups, organised based on their expertise, priorities, and current projects in such fields.  

By common agreement, it was decided to hold the next Members Council meeting during the LRE Forum in Aachen from 26 to 29 February next year to discuss further steps.

We are thrilled to finally kick off the Member’s Council.“, says Rémi Praud, Managing Director of the LRE Foundation. “This is a great opportunity for us to get a more in-depth collaboration with our member organisations and countries. We are looking forward to receiving some feedback on our recent programs and initiating some new joint projects. Furthermore, the regular meetings will also strengthen our network, as we will have the opportunity to see each other more often and exchange information.” 

The second Persecution Through Their Eyes youth event took place in Sant’Anna di Stazzema

The second Persecution Through Their Eyes youth event took place successfully on October 13 in Sant’Anna di Stazzema National Park of Peace. Following the triumph of the first event in Camp Vught, participants had the chance to visit the ‘Persecution Through Their Eyes exhibition, and the National Park memorial sites and watch animations created by students from the St. Joost School of Art & Design.

Persecution Through Their Eyes, a European Union-funded project, aims to offer a multi-perspective and transnational view of Nazi persecution, spotlighting the experiences of victims and perpetrators. Victims included Jews, Roma/Sinti, political prisoners, homosexuals, prisoners of war, civilians, and resistance fighters among others.

The project is organised by the LRE Foundation in partnership with organizations such as Camp Vught National Memorial (Netherlands), Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation (Germany), the National Peace Park of Sant’Anna di Stazzema (Italy), LRE Italy, and Grodzka Gate –  NN Theatre Centre in Lublin (Poland).

Over 100 students explored Sant’Anna di Stazzema’s square, church, Historical Museum of the Resistance, and other remembrance sites connected to the massacre, which happened on August 12, 1944, in the small town. The event’s key moments included the unveiling of the Persecution Through Their Eyes exhibition and the screening of short films created by the students of the St. Joost School of Art & Design.

The exhibition, located at the Factory of Rights in the Sant’Anna National Park of Peace, will be open to the public until the end of December 2023 and can be visited by appointment only.

Persecution Through Their Eyes is the third in a successful series of European Union-funded projects targeted at improving young people’s awareness of World War II.”, noted Joanna Roman, Project Manager at the LRE Foundation. “This youth event was fascinating in a variety of ways. We had the opportunity to share previously unknown personal stories with the students and to visit places of memory that must be protected and fostered.”

Persecution Through Their Eyes will continue to inspire young people with upcoming events organized by project partners. The next youth event is scheduled for October 30 at the Catholic University of Lublin in Poland, and the last one will be held on November 7 at the Buchenwald Memorial in Germany.

The Airborne Museum in Sainte-Mère-Église is now part of our network 

We are excited to announce the expansion of our network as we welcome the Airborne Museum in Sainte-Mère-Église in France as the newest member of LRE Foundation and LRE France.

Situated just a few kilometres from Utah Beach, the Airborne Museum holds the distinction of being Europe’s largest museum dedicated to the American paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions who took part in the Normandy Landings in 1944, during the Second World War. 

These paratroopers, who were the first Allied soldiers to land on the night of June 5-6, played a crucial role in the success of the Battle of Normandy. After liberating Sainte-Mère-Église, they fought Nazi soldiers across the Cotentin region, eventually establishing a substantial bridgehead that would allow France to be liberated from German control. 

The Airborne Museum in Sainte-Mère-Église, located directly across from the bell tower where paratrooper John Steele became famous for being hung during the D-Day landings, aims to provide an accurate account of the events leading up to D-Day, from preparations in England to the conquest of freedom. 

I’m delighted to join this network, which is working across Europe to raise awareness of the history of the Second World War and create links between people.”, said Magali Mallet, Director of the Airborne Museum Sainte-Mère-Église. 

The Museum is committed to modernizing its spaces to provide creative tours that are accessible to all while still maintaining its educational purpose. Visitors to the museum will be able to interact with screens and holograms, as well as hear music and sound effects to obtain a deeper understanding of the major events that shaped the twentieth century. 

Announcing the new addition to the network, Isabelle Lebreton, Director of LRE France, said “It is a great pleasure to welcome the Airborne Museum to our network. This museum is a key player in the understanding and transmission of the memory of the Second World, and it is undergoing major renovations to make it as innovative and accessible to as many people as possible. I am delighted to see it joining our international network today, where it has its rightful place.” 

Discover the upcoming Liberation Route Trips in Italy 

LRE Italy, one of the Foundation’s national branches, has launched a new initiative in collaboration with some national tour operators: the Liberation Route Trips!

Set to commence in the autumn of 2023, the Liberation Route Trips aim to shine a light on the significant sites that played pivotal roles in Italy’s liberation, resistance movements, and the broader backdrop of World War II. Additionally, the journeys will help spread awareness of the Liberation Route Europe walking routes which are located all around Italy. 

The LRE Italy’s Scientific Committee designed the first season of these travels and includes three different multi-day tours in various Italian cities and regions. The first trip, from 5-8 October, will take participants to Emilia Romagna and focus on Resistance Movements between the Po River and the Gothic Line. The second will be hosted in Rome from November 2-5, following the Liberation Route Europe themed route “Rome: Open City”, while the third will be held in Milan from November 17-19, following the “Milan, Capital of Resistance” themed route.

A guide and a historian will accompany the groups. This dual presence aims to meticulously reconstruct past events while providing a comprehensive and enjoyable cultural experience. 

The Liberation Route Trips will provide an immersive investigation into Italy’s historical legacy, as well as an opportunity to learn about, commemorate, and deepen the Italian experience of liberation and resistance. 

I am very pleased with this first round of trips, which I believe are critical to our Association.”, says Carlo Puddu, LRE Italy Managing Director. “Visiting the locations of the historical events described on the Liberation Route Europe website allows tourists and visitors to witness them firsthand. I hope this is the start of a long line of such initiatives.” 

A new themed route was launched in France: The Saint-Raphaël Memory Trail

The Saint-Raphaël Memory Trail was launched on August 14, as part of the “Saint-Raphaël, City of Remembrance” project. This themed route, which is part of the Liberation Route Europe and is available on its website and app, offers a captivating journey into the city’s history, with a special focus on the Provence Landings. 

The city of Saint-Raphaël joined the LRE Foundation network in 2021, demonstrating its dedication to preserving and sharing historical narratives. The collaboration between the City and the Foundation has resulted in the creation of the Saint-Raphaël Memory Trail.  

Spanning approximately 20 kilometres, the new themed route guides visitors through a dozen noteworthy historical sites. These locations reveal lesser-known aspects of the city’s history, such as residents’ resistance to occupying forces, strategic pre-landing bombardments, the Estérel coast’s crucial involvement in the Resistance, and the monumental Allied landings on August 15, 1944. The path includes ten Vectors of Memory, a first-of-its-kind initiative in France, as well as educational tables that improve the visiting experience.

I am delighted to see the Saint-Raphaël Memory Trail inaugurated today.”, said Alain Dubreuil, Director of the “Saint-Raphaël, City of Remembrance” project. “The themed route will play a very important role in raising awareness of the town’s history among Saint-Raphaël residents and tourists, compensating for the disappearance of eyewitnesses, and, most importantly, assisting in the transmission of memory to future generations. This route will serve as the initial link in a dense Liberation Route Europe’s network of trails in the south of France.” 

The Memory Trail’s launch is the culmination of several years’ work and a rich collaboration between the city and the LRE Foundation.”, LRE France Director Isabelle Lebreton added. “Close bonds have been formed, and I am honoured to be present today to witness this achievement. The themed route will hopefully pave the way for future collaborative projects.”