Stand Where History Was Made
By mid-December 1944, the war in Europe appeared to be nearing its close. The Germans seemed finished after the hectic charge across France to the Siegfried Line on the German border, and few Allied commanders believed them capable of launching any sort of offensive. US soldiers stationed in Belgium and Luxembourg prepared to camp for the winter. Entertainers frequented the Ardennes, underscoring the mentality of the front-line troops and the officers. On December 14, Marlene Dietrich performed for boisterous troops in the small crossroads town of Bastogne. The next day, New York Giants right-fielder Mel Ott led a delegation of ballplayers on a visit to the First Division Headquarters in Spa, Belgium, finding many officers on leave in Paris. Little did any of them know that German assault troops were assembling on the German-Belgian border; Adolf Hitler had chosen this moment to launch his last great offensive of the war. Nazi Germany pinned its hopes for ultimate victory on one last attack in the Ardennes Forest.
The German offensive was code-named Wacht am Rhein (the “Watch on the Rhine”), but is better known in the United States as the “Battle of the Bulge.” An offensive by three German armies across a 75-mile front, the operation involved more than one million soldiers: 200,000 assault troops in the initial wave and over 800,000 in reserve, ready to exploit the initial success. It caught unprepared American forces on the front line by surprise, ruptured their defensive line, and headed west through the Ardennes towards the Meuse River and Antwerp, the principal Allied supply port in Western Europe. The question hung like a mist in the cold winter air: could the US Army recover?
Prepare to walk in the footsteps of those brave Americans who faced the German onslaught. Our comprehensive tour includes the principal battle sites in Belgium and Luxembourg. Visit Bastogne, where General Anthony McAuliffe of the 101st Airborne Division replied to a German demand for surrender with a single, pithy word: “Nuts!” Pay solemn tribute to the men massacred near Malmedy by the SS troopers of Kampfgruppe Peiper. Travel the “Bulge” from its north shoulder at Elsenborn Ridge to Diekirch, Luxembourg, in the south, while listening to the heroic stories of American soldiers who fought through bitter cold and snow to prevail against a hardened and desperate enemy.
- Full-time WWII Museum logistical tour manager
- Expert local battle eld and city guides
- WWII Museum oral history video presentations
- VIP access to sites not offered on other tours
- Personal listening devices on all included touring
- Five-star accommodations
- Five Breakfasts, four Lunches, and three Dinners
- Welcome and farewell receptions
- Free-flow wine, beer, soft drinks, coffee, water, and tea at all included meals
- Private, first-class, air-conditioned motor coach transportation with bottled water
- Roundtrip airport transfers (on scheduled group arrival and departure days)
- Included gratuities to guides, drivers, porters, and servers during included meals
- Informative map book to be used throughout your journey
- Document wallet and personalized luggage tags
- Personal journal and pen to document your journey
Full Tour Itinerary
September 7, 2020 - Day 1
Arrivals in Brussels and Transfer To Clervaux
Upon arrival at Brussels International Airport, guests are warmly welcomed by Museum staff. Depart for Clervaux, Luxembourg, with a lunch stop along the way. This evening enjoy a welcome dinner with the group.
Hotel Le Clervaux (L, D)
September 8, 2020 - Day 2
The Northern Shoulder
The first full day of touring explores the "northern shoulder" of the Bulge, where the outnumbered Americans on the Elsenborn Ridge offered unexpected resistance in the first days of the German attack. Visit the little village of Lanzerath, Belgium, where a small American platoon under the command of 20 year-old Lieutenant Lyle Bouck held back 500 German paratroopers for an entire day. Continue to the "twin villages" of Rocherath and Krinkelt, where superior German armor failed to break through the American positions. Enjoy a group lunch and finish the day with a tour of Camp Elsenborn.
Hotel Le Clervaux (B, L)
September 9, 2020 - Day 3
SS-Standartenfuhrer Joachim Peiper, commander of the lead elements of the 1st SS Panzer Division, and his men were at the tip of the German counterattack. On December 17, 1944, Peiper’s unit shot 84 US prisoners in cold blood near Malmedy—a crime that strengthened American resolve during the battle. The victims were machine-gunned in an open field, with a few survivors managing to escape to tell the tale of the massacre. After hearing the news, other American units knew that surrender was not an option, even if outnumbered or surrounded. Today, the tour will follow the path of Peiper’s attack and will hear the heroic stories of American GIs whose actions blunted, and eventually halted the main German thrust in the north. Other sites visited include Stavelot, Trois Ponts, and La Gleize.
Hotel Le Clervaux (B, L)
September 10, 2020 - Day 4
Starting at the Our River Bridge in Dasburg on the German/ Luxembourg border, follow the route of the German 5th Panzer Army on its way to Bastogne. In Bastogne Barracks, enter the “Nuts Cave” where General Anthony C. McAullife proclaimed “Nuts!” to a German demand for the surrender of the town. See the memorial to Renée Lemaire, a Belgian nurse who worked tirelessly at an American aid station in Bastogne. On Christmas Eve, the Germans bombed the aid station, and Lemaire died while evacuating wounded soldiers from the burning building. In the Bois Jacques, visit the foxholes used by Easy Company during their heroic defense of Bastogne. This afternoon, receive a guided tour at the Bastogne War Museum. Enjoy an evening and dinner on your own.
Hotel Le Clervaux (B, L)
September 11, 2020 - Day 5
Explore the Luxembourg Ardennes today by visiting Wiltz, where the 28th Infantry Division endured a major German attack on December 16, 1944. Retreating toward Bastogne, the 28th engaged in one of the largest individual battles of the German offensive near Café Schumann. A memorial trail leads to numerous foxholes and reminders of the battle. Continuing to the south, visit Diekirch and the National Military Museum of Luxembourg, which was founded by our guide, Roland Gaul. This museum tells the story of the Battle of the Bulge within the story of Luxembourg’s own military history.
Hotel Le Clervaux (B, D)
September 12, 2020 - Day 6
Luxembourg American Cemetery
Luxembourg City served as the headquarters for General George S. Patton’s Third Army. Visit the La Fondation Jean-Pierre Pescatore—home of the chapel where Patton prayed for clear weather on December 23, 1944. The tour continues to the Luxembourg American Cemetery, the final resting place of 5,076 American servicemen, including Patton himself, where the tour ends with a special wreath-laying ceremony. This afternoon, transfer to Brussels and enjoy a free evening prior to your international flight in the morning.
Sheraton Brussels Airport Hotel (B)
September 13, 2020 - Day 7
Independent departure flights home from Brussels International Airport.
Battle of the Bulge Guide and Founder of The National Museum of Military History in Luxembourg
Born in Diekirch, Luxembourg, Roland Gaul has collected Battle of the Bulge artifacts since childhood. Growing up with the remains of one of history’s largest land battles in his backyard, Roland developed a keen interest in military history at a young age.
A graduate of the Diekirch “Lycée Classique,” Roland continued his studies at the Royal Military Academy (ERM) in Brussels, Belgium. In 1982, he founded the Diekirch Historical Society and the Diekirch Historical Museum, which became the National Museum of Military History in 1993. He developed countless contacts with American and German civilians, veterans, and eyewitnesses of the Battle of the Bulge for the museum’s oral-history archives.
Roland also served as the public affairs assistant at the American Embassy in Luxembourg, where he was deeply involved both professionally and privately in the organization of many international, national, regional, and local commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge.
In 1996, Roland began working for the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and was appointed coordinator for all national and regional ceremonies for the 60th and 65th anniversary commemorations of the Battle of the Bulge, as well as for the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. Roland assumed full-time direction of the National Museum of Military History in 2012, which he founded as a volunteer.
Scholar, lecturer, historian, consultant, author of several books, and the field guide Battle of the Bulge in Luxembourg, Roland has led many tours in the Ardennes over his 25 years as a guide for international audiences. He has also served as a consultant on many Battle of the Bulge films and documentaries.
Le Clervaux Boutique & Design Hotel
A Trip Advisor 2017 Travelers Choice property located in the center of Clervaux, in the heart of the Luxembourg Ardennes, Le Clervaux Boutique & Design Hotel provides its guests the highest level of service in a stylish, boutique environment.
This all-suite property offers multiple dining venues, a spacious spa with numerous treatment options, as well as a fitness room, a swimming pool, and a sauna. Guests may take advantage of a wide range of cultural and recreational activities, including golf and cycling.
The 22 large, uniquely designed rooms offer handcrafted queen beds with comfort mattresses, spa-style baths with exclusive Fairtrade bath products, bathrobes and slippers, flat-screen TVs, iPhone docking stations, and complimentary WiFi.
“The property in Clervaux was outstanding. In the center of the small town, it made walking around very easy. The rooms were spacious and kept very clean & tidy by the staff. Breakfasts were excellent, with a wide variety of meats, breads, and sides, with plenty of coffee and juice.”
“Roland Gaul was superb. His knowledge of the areas and sites we visited was incredible. He displayed a graciousness and gratitude towards the veterans, and to all of us Americans for what our parents and grandparents did for his country. I found that very profound and moving.”
—Katie M., New York, NY
“The guides were professional, knowledgeable, approachable, and personable. The same goes for the logistical management of the tour. Very well done.”
—Grace C., Houston, TX
“Roland lives and breathes WWII. He exudes knowledge and excitement; plus, he's a nice guy.”
—Vern A., Houma, LA
“Perfect!! I loved eating with the group… great food and wine!”
—Tina T., New Orleans, LA
“This tour was thoroughly enjoyable and was an excellent experience in bringing history to life.”
—Eloise M., New Orleans, LA
“Overall, I was very pleased and impressed with the tour. Roland's knowledge of the battle is encyclopedic, and he is very pleasant and fun to talk to.”
—John B., Boise, Idaho
“Roland Gaul is an excellent guide/historian whose insights and anecdotes made the experience for us--we could not have done this on our own. We've been saving up for this trip, and it was worth every penny.”
—Jan L., New York, NY
“This is a great tour led by a knowledgeable, professional tour guide. Anyone who has studied the Battle of the Bulge will love this tour.”
—Logan W., Washington, D.C.
“This was a great, memorable tour… My wife and I both loved Clervaux and thought the location was perfect for all the places we went to. It was nice to come back to that village after a long day... Everyone at the restaurants provided friendly and good service.”
—Connie A., Baton Rouge, LA