Reflections on the LRE Forum 2024: A Recap from Aachen


LRE Forum 2024

At the end of February the LRE Foundation, together with LRE Germany and LRE NRW got to organise the LRE Forum 2024 in the beautiful city of Aachen.  Three rich days of activities, discussions and meetings about the heritage of WWII brought together international members and partners of the LRE Foundation, as well as tourism stakeholders from all over the world.

Welcome Reception

On February 26, the LRE Members and Partners were welcomed to the event centre Forum M for the start of the LRE Forum 2024. The veue, located in the very centre of the Aachener Old Town, set the scene for the official opening of the 4-days programme. The guests were greeted with speeches from Rémi Praud, LRE Foundation Managing Director, Gotthard Kirch, Director of LRE NRW and Heinrich Brötz, Deputy for the Education, Youth and Culture Department for the City of Aachen.

LRE Forum Welcome cocktail
Welcoming words by Rémi Praud, LREF Managing Director

LRE Member Seminar

On February 27th, the Foundation hosted its annual Member Seminar as the first event of the day. The event took place in the beautiful setting of the Aachen Altes Kurhaus ballroom, where members of the LRE Foundation gathered. The Foundation team began by providing an overview of the past year’s projects and developments, as well as outlining the plans for the upcoming year. Following that, five members of the Foundation were given the opportunity to present their own projects to the network, sharing their ideas and best practices for making WW2 history more accessible and relevant.

The event concluded with a lively discussion moderated by Rémi Praud, Managing Director of the LRE Foundation. With guest speakers from the WW2 heritage sector, the session explored the topic “The 80th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War. A Remembrance and Commemorative Crossroad”.

Caroline Belt (Brabant Remembers)
Dirk Backen (German War Grave Commission, Kassel), Simon Bendry (Commonwealth War Graves Commission, London), Femke Klein (National Committee 4 and 5 May, Amsterdam), Łukasz Kukawski (Museum and Memorial in Sobibór)  

LRE Conference

On the afternoon of February 27th, the LRE Conference welcomed around 160 participants to discuss the ways societies and individuals have tried to address the harms caused during World War II, specifically in attempts to make amends for persecution.

The Conference opened with a keynote speech by Dietmer Nietan, Member of the German Bundestag and Coordinator for the German-Polish cooperation about the shift from persectution to justice and accountability.

Led by British author and historian Keith Lowe, the following panel discussion included speakers from important international institutions active in the field. They deliberated on how their organizations and governments across Europe address the consequences of the persecution of the Second World War.
A crucial point of discussion was the extent to which the laws passed after the war laid a foundation for reparations for persecution and to what extent these laws reached their limits, especially in their implementation.

To conclude the Conference, we were deeply honoured to have welcomed Mala Tribich, a holocaust survivor, to the stage, who let us into her incredible life story. In conversation with Sharon Buenos, global director of the Zikaron BaSalon, Mala Tribich shared her personal experience with persecution, deportation, and the loss of dear family members, making us recall once again, why memory preservation and transmission, are such significant pillars in our society.

“We have to be vigilant and we must not be bystanders. If we see harm being done to people […] We should always stand up to it. We should always respond to it and not let people get away with it.” – Mala Tribich MBE

Keith Lowe (Historian and author), Dr Dominika Uczkiewicz (Pielicki Institute, Wroclaw), Dr Andrea Despot (Remembrance, Responsibility and Future Foundation, Berlin), Dr Carlo Gentile (Martin Buber Institute, Cologne), Anne Webber (Commission for Looted Art in Europe, London)
Rémi Praud, Mala Tribich and Sharon Buenos
Martin Schulz, Chairman of the Frierich-Ebert-Stiftung and Patron of the LRE Foundation

LRE Gala

The annual Gala Dinner was held in the magnificent Coronation Room of the Aachen City Hall, where a select group of guests gathered for an intimate get-together. Against the stunning backdrop of the medieval arches of the hall, a delectable dinner was served, followed by the official welcome ceremony for new members of the network, bringing the day to a joyful close. The evening was graced with speeches from the Mayor of Aachen, Sybille Keupen, Ed Kronenburg, Chairman of the LRE Foundation, and Martin Schultz, Chairman of the Frierich-Ebert-Stiftung and Patron of the LRE Foundation, all of which accompanied and delighted the guests.


As part of our annual thematic trade show on 28 February, Foundation members had the opportunity to network and connect with tour operators and other trade stakeholders from around Europe and North America. During this event, participants were able to exchange contacts and showcase their destinations to one another. During the event, participants exchanged contacts and showcased their destinations, while also learning from each other, sharing best practices, and proposing ideas for future collaboration. With over 100 attendees, the annual LREXPO is becoming a crucial appointment for those working in cultural heritage, remembrance tourism, and historical education.

Annual LREXPO Trade Fair at the Forum M, Aachen
Annual LREXPO Trade Fair at the Forum M, Aachen
At the German War Cemetery in Vossenack on February 28

Site Visits

After the Expo, on the afternoon of 28 February, members got the chance to visit some of the historical and remembrance sites in and around Aachen. As a first stop, the former military training area of Vogelsang, a camp used by the National Socialists to train future officers, gave an insight into the oppressive machinery of the NS Regime. Afterwards, the participants were taken to the Hürtgen Forest, the place that witnessed the longest Battle on German soil in the winter of 1944.

To conclude the eventful four-day Forum, a guided tour on the morning of 29 February introduced visitors to the important history of Aachen over the last centuries and during WW2. Aachen was the first German city to be liberated by the Allied soldiers.

FAM Trips

In addition to the site visits organised for the LREF members in the German Eifel Region, international tour operators took part in a Familiarization Trip in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The Belgian part of the trip, which mainly took place in the Ardennes region, included visits to the Bastogne War Museum, the 101 Airbourne Museum and Malmedy.

After spending two full days in the “Battle of the Bulge” area, the FAM Trip proceeded to the Limburg region in the Netherlands. The tour included visits to significant sites such as the Maastricht underground, the German War Cemetery in Ysselsteyn, and the War Museum Overloon.

As the final stop on this year’s FAM trip, the Airbourne Region in the Netherlands welcomed tour operators to explore their region’s crucial WW2 history. The visits included museums, sites, and memorials in Nijmegen, Arnhem, Hartenstein, and Ede, where the famous Operation Market Garden parachute landings took place.

At the Mardasson Memorial near the Bastogne War Museum
At Ginkel Heath in the Airborne Region